THE PROVOST'S UPDATES
April 29, 2020
Many of you are conducting your last two days of remote instruction and I am sure you feel as if these are the last two steps in the marathon of quickly moving from face-to-face instruction. You have certainly risen to the challenge of maintaining an effective learning environment for our students and for that I thank you. Uncertainty continues to plague us as we look forward to the fall 2020 semester. There are many factors that we continue to examine as we look at the various scenarios that we may possibly encounter. The university has launched an Emergency Operations Team which has been tasked with examining how we can address the safety for our community upon our return to campus. I can assure you that we are planning for the recovery and adjustment to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move into final examinations, I have a few updates related to final grades, preregistration, summer school, and a faculty survey.
Prospective Graduating Senior class rosters will be sent to department chairs and deans before noon April 30. Faculty are to enter all grades into Banner as normal. Since seniors will have the option to elect Pass/Fail for their courses it is extremely important that grades are submitted on time so degrees can be conferred. The deadline for submitting ALL grades is MAY 11TH BY 3:00 P.M.
Pre-Registration is scheduled to end on May 8th. Currently 77% of our students are registered which is outstanding given that all registration activity has been done remotely. Thank you for the work you have done and will continue to do as enrollment growth is critical to our institution.
Summer Tuition Assistance
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Successful Retention grant is a need-based grant program for students who demonstrate substantial financial need and are enrolled in a Summer School session. Eligible students may apply to receive support of up to 75% of the cost of tuition for their summer courses. Students will be notified of this opportunity today and must complete an application by Thursday, May 7.
Faculty Wellness & Remote Instruction Check-In Survey
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) would like to survey faculty about their technology access and course design, wellness and home life impacts, as well as examine faculty opinions about remote instruction and the way ECSU responded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey answers are anonymous and will be used to provide you with more effective programming options and more useful updates, tip sheets, and tools to enhance your work experience. Your experiences and opinions are vital to CTL’s programming goals. The survey will be open from April 29, 2020 until 11:59 pm on May 15, 2020. If you have questions about the survey, please contact Dr. Kacey DiGiacinto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to respond: Faculty Wellness & Remote Instruction Check-In Survey
As we make our transition from face-to-face interaction to teleworking and online course delivery, I think it is important that I communicate with you regularly to ensure the dissemination of accurate and timely information. At a minimum, I will send a weekly Provost’s Update out on Wednesdays providing general information on how the university is proceeding and answering questions that may arise. As we prepare to launch online instruction for all students on Monday, March 30, 2020, please be reminded of the following:
Change in Assignment Due Dates
All students began their Spring Break on March 18, 2020; therefore any assignments or assessments that had, been originally scheduled during the time of March 18 – 20, 2020, should be rescheduled and offered online after March 30, 2020. I ask that you not penalize students for work that was originally assigned for the dates of March 18-20, 2020. On Tuesday, March 17, per the direction of the UNC System office, students were asked to vacate the Residence Halls as soon as possible, so several students were likely in transit between the dates of March 18-20. In addition, since students will also have to adjust to this new normal, I ask that you be compassionate and flexible with them during this transition.
Modification of Syllabus
As we transition to online delivery, I am requesting that each faculty member modify his/her syllabus to reflect the change in delivery of instruction from face-to-face to online. As our commitment to SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation are always at the forefront of our minds, it is important that we are able to demonstrate that we are in compliance with their standards. Based on a recent SACSCOC memo, institutions need to be able to demonstrate student achievement of course outcomes/competencies. While “in-class time” is certainly a component of a course, I encourage each of you to shift your focus away from “course minutes” and begin to think about ways in which students can demonstrate achievement on the remaining outcomes/competencies in your course. Sometime next week we will send a template to assist you in the modification. Dates for the modified schedule should reflect the period of March 30 – April 30, 2020.
Faculty Resource Shell
For those who have not taught online or those who need assistance in transitioning classes to the online format, we are creating a series of short videos that will walk faculty members through copying the modules so they have one for each week and then editing the module for each week so that the content will be available. There are also step by step how-to directions with screenshots available in the Distance Education tab of the Faculty Resources shell in Blackboard.
Help is available through virtual office hours (faculty should see this shell in Blackboard) from 9 a.m. - 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Faculty can also email email@example.com to schedule an appointment with Kim Stevenson, Trina Gregory or Joy Smith to get one-on-one assistance in updating their shell.
There is also a curated list of resources in the Distance Education Tab in the Faculty Resources shell that can assist you in sourcing materials or generating creative ways to engage with your students.
The Department of Education has provided guidance for work study students during this time. All students will be able to be paid for missed hours due to campus closures. Students can work remotely if their work can be performed off campus at their supervisor's discretion. Students will receive their bi-weekly payments based on established hours and their remaining award allocations. If your students have any additional questions regarding their work study status, please have them email the Director of Financial Aid, Mr. Jeremi Watkins,firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to personally thank Dr. Scott Bradshaw, Faculty Senate Chair, for his continued support during this tough time. I will speak with Dr. Bradshaw weekly to make sure that faculty concerns are being addressed as we make this transition. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to your chair or dean.
The movement of COVID-19 is rapid. The numbers are increasing and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for us to follow the guidelines issued by our public health experts and government officials. We are working hard to adapt to the rapid changes that have occurred in our nation. As we move towards remote instruction on next week, I wanted you to be aware of decisions and changes that have been made since my last correspondence. It is anticipated that these changes will enhance the effectiveness of our transition to remote learning, and at the same time maintain the quality of instruction and delivery of academic support services.
Pre-registration-April 6th- Originally students were scheduled to begin pre-registration on March 30, 2020, which coincides with the first day of the new remote learning platform. In order to provide adequate time to allow students to become familiar with this new learning environment, the date for pre-registration will be moved to April 6, 2020.
Assignments During Spring Break - We continue to receive emails from students concerning assignments given during Spring Break, March 18-29, 2020. I thank all of you who have already made modifications to your schedule. For others, please be reminded again that no assignments should be given or have due dates during this week of Spring Break.
Student Access to Remote Instruction - It is important to remember that many of our students are without computers and/or internet access. Our initial poll indicated that a total of 90 students had no access to computers and approximately 45 had no internet access. My office has been working diligently with Student Affairs and IT (Information Technology) to deliver computers and internet to students. As there is a nationwide backlog on purchasing technology, I ask that you please be patient with your students during the next two weeks as we work to deliver the requisite tools for remote access to this population as some students will not be able to connect on March 30, 2020.
Enhanced Delivery of Instruction and Campus Engagement - We have initiated a contract to purchase Zoom licenses for videoconferencing services that could be used in addition to our Microsoft Teams licenses. We are also purchasing DocuSign to facilitate the rapid transmission of documents that require signatures. While we were already planning to implement DocuSign beginning Fall 2020 as a result of faculty requests, the current crisis has moved this initiative to the forefront.
Commencement Update - ECSU is currently surveying students who have submitted graduation applications to determine their feedback for when and how they would like to celebrate their graduation. It is important in the meantime, that you assure seniors that degrees will be conferred in May upon completion of this semester regardless of when the commencement ceremony will be held.
Emergency Grading Accommodation and Academic Record Notation Due to COVID-19
As we adjust to our new normal that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic we continue to explore ways to address the varying concerns from faculty and students related to the migration to remote learning. For the Spring 2020 semester ONLY, ECSU will implement an emergency grading and academic record notation policy and procedure. Faculty will continue to submit letter grades for all courses, but students will have the option to retain their letter grade or choose to take their course pass/fail. Below I provide a brief rationale for the emergency grading accommodation and have attached a memo outlining the full details of the plan.
Rationale: Many of our students are not only adjusting to remote learning, but are struggling with various challenges including finding a safe place to study, computer and internet access, loss of employment, assisting siblings with coursework, and being several time zones away. The implementation of this temporary grading policy and procedure will provide greater equity for students who would be unfairly disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I would like to thank the Faculty Senate Executive Committee for their suggestions, input, and approval of this emergency grading and academic record notation policy and procedure. It has been a pleasure to work alongside a group of faculty whose primary objective is to maintain the academic integrity of the institution while also addressing the concerns of our students during this unprecedented time in our world.
The COVID-19 Syllabus Template will be uploaded in the Faculty Resource Blackboard Shell by Monday, March 30. A modification of syllabi is necessary to document and acknowledge to our external accrediting and licensure organizations that we migrated from face-to-face to remote learning. As a result of this migration, the template provides an opportunity for faculty to modify office hour delivery and other components that require change as a result of remote learning. Faculty will be asked to submit their modified syllabus to their department chair by Friday, April 3.
As you prepare to resume classes via remote learning, the institution has acquired Zoom licenses to assist with videoconferencing. If you are interested in using this tool for your classes, please complete the survey sent out yesterday by Mrs. Barclift in her email by noon on Monday, March 30, 2020. For your convenience, I am attaching the link to the survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HXDBKDL.
We continue to explore various ways to engage our community and each other in an attempt to adjust to our new normal. Many of you have taken advantage of our Zoom license and hopefully this has assisted you in your instructional delivery to your students. We are continuing to identify and distribute technology and hotspots to students. This process has not been completed so we ask that you remain patient with your students as they enter back into your classes via remote learning. I cannot express to you how grateful I am for the level of commitment and support you have demonstrated during this COVID-19 pandemic. My updates this week are primarily focused on support services for students and faculty.
Virtual Academic Advising
Pre-registration for summer and fall courses will begin on Monday, April 6th and end on Thursday, April 30th. Please see the attached virtual academic advising protocol for support on how to set up virtual advising appointments for your students. There are a variety of options on how to conduct your appointments via phone, Blackboard, Zoom or Microsoft Office Teams. Ms. Kenya Hinton will be holding a live demonstration of how to use e4u for your advising appointments on Thursday, April 2, at 2:00 pm.
Please use this link to join the zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 902 909 338
For those unable to attend, the session will be recorded and posted in Bb. If you need additional support please email Ms. Kenya Hinton, email@example.com, and she will set up a time to work with you one on one. If your students have questions regarding other areas that you cannot advise, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Melinda J. Anderson will be able to provide support and guidance.
Online Tutoring Available via Blackboard
Tutorial Services will continue in a new online format. This service is provided for all students to have access to tutoring services to support academic success as we migrate to online learning. To access online tutoring, go to Blackboard and login. Students and faculty will see a new course with the title Tutorial Services on the Blackboard page.
Students will be able to:
Schedule virtual tutoring sessions;
Connect with tutors for assistance in a variety of subject areas;
Access online resources for student success;
Get one-on-one or group tutoring using Bb Collaborate;
Connect with peers in online ‘study rooms’ for virtual study sessions;
Tutoring is available in the following areas: Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics I, Economics, Intro to Business, Business Statistics, Finance, Spanish, Writing, Composition I and II, Social Work, Criminal Justice Statistics, Aviation, Engineering, & History.
Students can also submit their papers to email@example.com for review. There will be a 24-hour turnaround time during the week.
Students and faculty can email their questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Limitations of Proctoring with Respondus Lockdown Browser
Respondus has offered test proctoring as a free service until May 31, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon further investigation, we will not be able to use this service during spring 2020 due to the following reasons:
The LockDown Browser cannot be used with Chromebooks.
Respondus does not work with Smart Phones.
Many of our students do not have webcams.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Kimberly N. Stevenson, Director of Distance Education.
Telework for nonessential employees has been extended to April 30, 2020.
ETS Major Field Test
ECSU will not administer the MFT during the spring 2020 semester. We will follow guidance provided by SACSCOC as it relates to assessment data for spring 2020.
Addendum to Syllabi
Due Friday, April 3, 2020.
We have completed one week of remote instruction and I am extremely pleased at the low number of concerns we have received from students and faculty. Although this is not an ideal situation, I feel that we are adjusting well to our new teaching and learning environment. Many of you have been instrumental in this smooth transition and volunteered for tasks that were not a component of your regular jobs and for that I thank you! I have always known that ECSU has some of the most dedicated and talented faculty in the UNC System, and over the last 3 weeks you have truly demonstrated both innovation and adaptability. Below are a few updates for this week.Class Attendance
As indicated in earlier updates, many of our students have obtained part-time jobs or are sharing their home computers with their siblings who are also taking their courses remotely. Since there are a variety of reasons that students may not be able to attend your synchronous classes, attendance should not be taken in E4U during this period of remote learning. Students are receiving E4U alerts that they have missed class which has caused a bit of anxiety. Faculty should continue to hold classes during their scheduled course times, but I ask that you record and post all of your lectures in Blackboard so that individuals who are unable to attend your class have an opportunity to watch the videos at a later time. Although you will not be recording attendance through E4U, if a student shows no evidence of class engagement, please send an alert to Dr. Melinda Anderson at email@example.com.
Promotion and Tenure Extensions due to COVID-19
ECSU’s Tenure and Promotion Policy 300.2.1.1 provides eligible faculty the opportunity to request an extension to their promotion, tenure, and reappointment clock by one year under extenuating circumstances. I have determined that the COVID-19 pandemic is an extenuating circumstance and have agreed to grant eligible faculty an additional year if requested. All eligible faculty have been notified of this option and provided with a deadline for their response.
Summer Enrichment Camps/Programs
Face-to-Face Summer Enrichment Programs have been suspended until June 30, 2020. Updates will be provided if this restriction changes. If possible, it is highly recommended that you think about virtual experiences for your summer camps.
April 10 – Good Friday – University Closed
April 13 – Easter Monday – Classes Dismissed
I realize that this is an overwhelming time for many of us as we address year-end demands. Please find some time to relax between the numerous obligations of taking care of family and our students. I know many of you are receiving feedback from your students about their stress levels as it relates to our return to campus. In your communication with students, please emphasize that the university would not jeopardize the safety of our students, faculty, or staff. Every decision we have made has been with the primary goal of keeping our community safe. My updates this week are focused mainly on end-of year tasks that must be completed.
All Faculty Course Evaluations will be administered online during Monday, April 20 – Friday, May 1, 2020. The Office of Institutional Research, Effectiveness and Assessment will email the evaluation to all students for each course. In addition, a link to the evaluation will be posted in Blackboard for each course. Course evaluations given during the Spring 2020 semester will be automatically excluded from use in annual evaluations, tenure and promotion, or post-tenure review. Faculty will have the option to elect to use Spring 2020 course evaluations in annual evaluations, tenure and promotion, or post-tenure review if they desire.
Annual Faculty Evaluations
An Annual Faculty Evaluation Blackboard shell has been created for all full-time faculty to upload evidences of their teaching, scholarly endeavors, and services for the 2019-2020 academic year. This shell will be made available on April 20, 2020 and will close on May 8, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Adjunct faculty will upload their teaching evidences into a modified evaluation form. A live demonstration of the online evaluation tool will be shown during the Faculty Senate meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 21, 2020 and recorded and posted in Blackboard.
Due to COVID-19 disruptions, many of our students will not be able to participate in synchronous final examinations. In addition, since all students have transitioned to online learning it is extremely important that we still provide structure for the final exam schedules. As such, regardless of the delivery format or timeframe, faculty should adhere to the Spring 2020 Exam Schedule for completion of final exams. For clarification, below is an example outlining two different scenarios.
Original Course Meeting Time: MWF 10:00 am
Original Final Exam Time: May 6, 2020
Desired Online Final Exam Delivery Format: Online Exam; students will have 2 hours to complete the exam
New Online Delivery Time: Exam should remain open for at least 24 hours and should close no earlier than 11:59 pm on May 6, 2020
Original Course Meeting Time: TR 11:00 am
Original Final Exam Time: May 7, 2020
Desired Online Final Exam Delivery Format: 15 page paper; students will have 1 week to work on paper
New Online Delivery Time: Students should receive the final exam on April 30 and the exam should be due no earlier than 11:59 pm on May 7, 2020
I continue to extend my thanks and gratitude to all of you for your display of commitment during this time. As you continue to serve our students, departments and units, I want to assure you that we are fervently working on completing the final draft of our SACSCOC Compliance Report. Your diligent work and responsiveness to our requests have made our efforts to document compliance much easier. My updates today are primarily focused on concerns expressed during the Faculty Senate meeting held on yesterday, April 21, 2020 with one additional request.
Final Exams for Graduating Seniors
Due to the rescheduling of Spring 2020 Commencement exercises, graduating seniors will not take final exams early. All final exams will be administered beginning May 2, 2020 and will end on May 8, 2020. Please make sure you communicate your final exam format and time to students, including graduating seniors, as soon as possible. As a reminder, regardless of the delivery format or timeframe, faculty should adhere to the Spring 2020 Exam Schedule for completion of final exams. The deadline for posting grades for all students will be on May 11th by 3:00 p.m.
Annual Faculty Evaluations
According to ECSU Policy 300.2.9.1, the annual faculty evaluation is “separate and distinct from the comprehensive cumulative post-tenure review process for tenured faculty members”. The third-year review for tenure-track faculty who are in a probationary status along with portfolios submitted for tenure and promotion also represent a comprehensive cumulative review. Thus, all faculty must participate in the annual faculty evaluation process. As noted last week, faculty will have until May 8, 2020 to submit their annual evaluations via Blackboard. Faculty and Chairs may work together if additional time is needed to complete evaluations.
Academic Affairs is working closely with IT to transition all of our student forms to AdobeSign so that we can begin accepting electronic signatures. The full implementation of AdobeSign will allow students and faculty to initiate signature requests, but is still under development. However, we have developed a temporary procedure which will allow us to process electronic signatures. Faculty and students should submit completed forms without signatures to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once received, Academic Affairs will send the form to the appropriate student, advisor, chair, and dean for electronic signature.
E4U Enrollment Census Campaign
Academic Affairs monitored student activity in Blackboard during the initial transition to remote learning. Since faculty have chosen innovative methods to deliver their courses remotely, I recognize that solely monitoring student activity in Blackboard is not the best way to capture their engagement in their courses. While I recognize that this is a busy time of year, I am asking that each of you complete an upcoming enrollment census campaign to assist us in identifying students who you have not heard from, that is, students who have not completed assignments, engaged in any course material, or have not reached out to you via email or phone since March 30th. Faculty will receive an email directly to their ECSU email address and the link will close on Thursday, April 30. If you need assistance completing the campaign please click here to watch the 2 minute video How to Respond Enrollment Census Campaign or email Kenya Hinton,email@example.com.