College of Arts & Letters (CAL) Meeting (June 23, 2020)
From Danielle Nicole DeVoss on June 24th, 2020
Complete transcripts available at:
Partial transcript appears below.
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss (2019-2020 CAC Chair):
All right. Welcome. I think we'll go ahead and start. Thank you all for being here. After May 4th college meeting, we discussed a mid summer meeting to continue our conversation and to look to a fall semester. CAC distributed a Qualtrics Survey to gather questions and concerns before this meeting and we'll try to address as many of those as possible today.
A theme that has also emerged since our May 4th meeting is a wired faculty being consulted, or how can faculty participate more actively in all of the processes, and questions, and changes, and conversations happening right now? I wanted to mention, if you happen to miss it, Melissa Staub sent out an email yesterday inviting faculty to today's faculty senate meeting, which will start right after this meeting. It will start at 3:15, it is an open meeting.
On the agenda include an update from the Campus Reopening Task Force, discussion of DEI concerns, a discussion of campus policing, and Mark Largent is also going to talk about undergraduate course delivery. Faculty senate is where and how faculty have a voice in current university issues. I'd encourage everyone who can attend after to please attend. If you're not able to, reach out to faculty in your unit to touch base with those who were able to join.
Again, faculty senate's going to meet right after this. Melissa included the Zoom information password on your email yesterday. If you, for whatever reason, can't find that email, zip me an email and I'll be happy to send it along.
Our plan for today is similar to our May 4th meeting. We plan to first ask the deans questions and issues that CAC gathered and compiled via the Qualtrics Survey. And then we'll move into live discussion. Sarah Jackson is here to help moderate the meeting today. Please use the Q&A button at the bottom of your Zoom window to pose questions for our live discussion.
With that, Dean Long, do you have any opening remarks or would you like to go right into questions?
Chris Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters:
I appreciate that, Danielle. Yeah. I would like to ask everybody if you would begin with me with a moment of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, and the history of anti-black violence in this country.
Thank you for that. We are in the midst of a very painful period in multiple ways in this country, and so we're gathering now virtually as we've been doing for the past few months to continue our conversation about where we are as a university, some of the issues around the reopening, some of the issues around the budget situation. And also importantly, the ways in which we as a college are trying to face the reckoning that we all have to face with regard to systemic and structural racism in this country, and at this university, and in our college.
So I want to begin with that and I want to also say that I'm going to give you the best I have at the moment with respect to the information that we have, and I'm going to just admit upfront here that we don't have all the answers we need to have for some of the questions with respect to the details around the reopening process. And we'll get into some of those with regard to the specific questions, Danielle, I know you have prepared here.
But I want people to know that we're working very hard on all of these questions and we are committed in our work to living up to our expectations of ourselves with respect to shared governance, with respect to open dialogue and transparency, equity, community, and inclusion that we've talked about. So we'll try to talk about how we're doing that recognizing too that now…
Dean Long: I muted myself, sorry. I pointed to my computer, I muted myself. We have about 105 people on this call and I know a number of people are not on contract, so I'm grateful for the time that people are dedicating to be here with us this afternoon.
I'll kick it over to you, Danielle.
Danielle: Excellent. Thank you. Recognizing that there's a lot shifting right now, and you like us have only so much information to share, the first set of questions that we gathered have to do with the reopening and teaching in the fall. And the first question is the biggest one, and it's a timeline question.
Is there a timeline for more detailed and concrete guidelines on what face-to-face instruction and on campus work for all faculty and staff might look like in the fall?
Dean Long: Let me say a little bit about where we are, and then I'm going to absolutely ask Cara to talk about some specifics with regard to the teaching side of that. As many of you know, and can I put paste something into the chat here? Because I copied the number... Yeah. Oh, maybe it only goes to... Oh, all panelists and attendees. All right.
This is the link to the reopening campus subcommittees, the 22 subcommittees, just in case you like I do need to remind ourselves, first of all, what subcommittees that I'm on, and second of all, what are the other subcommittees? You'll see that the university has established a long list of subcommittees, and the approach here is actually really very heartening from my perspective.
I've had a lot of conversations with Norm Beauchamp and with Dave Weismantel, all the co-chairs of the task force. And if you notice, the task force itself, if you look at the reopening campus link, which I will also paste in here, it is oriented around some values that for those of you who are following closely to what the deans were talking about in the wake of the survivor impact statements in 2018, that those values for this task force are animating the work right now.
They create a culture that's transparent, open, trusting, and safe to cultivate caring and accountable leadership, and to empower everyone to be engaged in a community that's inclusive and equitable, and the actions must be responsive to all members. So this is both a commitment and an aspiration, I would say. So there is a lot of work being done by a variety of subcommittees.
I'm co-chairing the DEI subcommittee and I will tell you that there's not a subcommittee among the 22 where the work that we're doing doesn't have a connection. So we are working very hard to have the conversations cut across these various subcommittees. And I know Norm, I think they'll talk this afternoon too and faculty senate about trying to have more faculty voices in those subcommittees to the degree that people have the time and willingness to participate in that over the summer. That's been a challenge that we've had on the DEI subcommittee.
We have added a number of faculty members, not from our college, but from other colleges and we're moving forward with that. Sonja, and Bill, and Cara are all on subcommittees and are working together to facilitate the process. Now, there are a lot of things that are up in the air about timing. There are some things we know, for example, we are going to be starting classes in September as the president's message has said.
We are planning to have students that when they go home at Thanksgiving, not to return to campus, so we will complete the semester in an online modality as planned. But there are so many questions, and we can get into some of them associated with this and it's a little bit like quicksand from my perspective. As soon as you get into one set of things, there's layers of different challenges that we have.
Let me pause there with the broad picture and turn it over to Cara to address some of the more specific things around some of the timeline issues.
Cara Cilano, CAL Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies:
Okay. Hi everybody. I can speak to some of the timeline issues when it comes to instruction. I don't necessarily have a larger timeline for on-campus work if we can see the distinction. The staff have been working really, really hard these past two-and-a-half weeks to submit our courses, especially if they're going to be modality changes by which I mean, if they were originally on the schedule for the fall semester and only the fall semester, not talking the spring. They were originally on the calendar or the schedule for fall semester as in-person and it's being shifted to hybrid online synchronous or online asynchronous.
Our staff colleagues have been inputting that information, and thanks to Beth as of this morning, I understand that we've had 907 courses submitted to signal some kind of change. And in total we're offering 1084 courses, so we've pretty much gotten through most of our courses. The deadline, according to the registrar's office for those submissions is this Friday.
So by this Friday, actually Monday, probably the better day, the university as a whole and all of our students, new students who are coming to the university and returning students will be able to see on the registrar's system how the courses will be delivered, the modality in which they'll be delivered. So the 29th of June is one really important date here because that's when we'll start seeing students making decisions about their fall schedule.
We understand too that by mid July, if not, maybe a little bit later, we'll be able to see pretty clearly how well the students have been able to put together their schedules, and whether any conflicts have risen because of the shifts in modality. Through the month of July, the facilities, staff in OPB working with the registrar's office will be locating classes, the face-to-face and the hybrid classes, in-classroom spaces or other kinds of that are being reclaimed for instruction so that they have proper social distancing.
So if a class now is capped at, say 25 and it's going to be in-person or hybrid, the registrar will work with facilities to find a location on campus that can support that number of students in a socially distanced way. So if you are teaching hybrid or in-person, you should know, hopefully by the end of July where exactly that course will be. So that information follows in terms of a timeline, the actual location information follows from when we've submitted the modalities by the end of this month.
We are also working in terms of instructions and maybe your chair, director, colleagues have already signaled this information to you. We're also working to provide additional professional development opportunities for colleagues who want to be better at teaching online, so you've seen the SOIREE and the ASPIRE programs.
Just yesterday, I was able to announce a special intermediate program being hosted by the College of Ed and this is for people who've already done SOIREE or ASPIRE who want to get even better. And there'll be opportunities for the month of July and opportunities through the month of August. It's a four-week long asynchronous training. We're also trying to schedule again, coming back to timeline, the opportunities for faculty so that they're feeling prepared before the students are starting their coursework.
There are still a lot of questions like where things will happen, that's going to be a hell of a game of Jenga to figure that out. And hopefully we won't have to shift times for schedule of classes, face-to-face or hybrid classes, which may be some of the sciences that have labs are looking to have and to switch their times because they need to expand the availability of the space. Hopefully we won't be in that situation.
Dean Long: One thing that I wanted to add here just as a way of framing, and by the way, we're also working to try and get Bill here into the Zoom meeting, so there's some multitasking I know going on. Thank you, Danielle, for doing that.
One thing that I wanted to talk just briefly about is the real challenge that we're facing. We really want in our college, we've said this from the beginning, we want to maximize the agency on the part of all members of our community, from our staff, and students to faculty as well. And so we have been asked by the university to have a balance of modalities between 50% of the courses should be delivered in an online format, whether synchronous or asynchronous, 25% in a hybrid format, and 25% in an in-person format, 25% each.
Those are guidelines and we are working really in a focused way to balance two competing values. One is the value of giving our faculty agency over the kind of experiences they need with regard to their pedagogy and their teaching. We really want to maximize that. We also have the very important value of making sure that students have the courses that they need in the modalities that they need to be successful.
And one constraint that we have in this regard, and there are others, but one important one is with international students. The international students are a really important component of our student population. They are 11% of our population and the account for 18% of our tuition revenue, and they can only take one class online per 12 credits they take.
And so we need, if we're going to be mindful of the success of our international students and to say nothing of students who need different modalities, we need to balance that. We're going to work with everyone to manage the balance, and I am not interested in having a hard mandate. That's a 50, 25, 25 is that kind of guideline. I've already been clear with people.
If we don't get exactly that, that's okay. We want to have the values that we talk about driving this both in terms of faculty agency to think about these issues, and with regard to student success recognizing that we are going to have to do some balancing, and we hope for people's flexibility and generosity in this context.
Danielle: I might have missed this. I'm sorry if I did. The 50, 25, 25 guideline, is that per unit per program for the whole college?
Dean Long: Yeah. There's been this talk of this guideline and I have not pressed the APUE to be the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, Mark Largent to be very strict and specific about it partly because I don't really want him to tell me something specific and concrete about it. What I want him to say is, "This is our general guideline," which is what he said.
They're not going to come out with, "You must do X, Y, or Z." We will not do that also as the Dean's office. But what we're asking for is just, could we work together to be collaborative in trying to get where we need to go recognizing that each unit and with faculty governance and faculty shared decision making are going to have to shape that process.
I think one of the things that we're working really hard to embody in this moment, in this very difficult moment is how are we doing things with a real sense of shared governance, shared decision making. That means things take a little longer, and that also means that the conversations you all are having at the unit levels are going to shape the decisions.
But they also have to be shaped by the bigger macro pictures of what we're dealing because if it were up to me and we didn't have to worry about student success issues, I'd say, "Yeah, everybody go online." But we've got student success and we also have parents who are unhappy with the idea of sending their child to MSU physically, and then having them take all their courses online.
Now, we need to have a major portion online, as Cara said, because of the distancing piece. Then we need to explain that to parents too, like we're not just deciding to put everything online because we want to, it's a health and safety issue as well. So these are some of the issues we're trying to focus on.
Danielle: Thank you.
Dean Long: Oh, and welcome Bill. Glad to see you. I'm glad you got in here.
Danielle: Thank you. The next two questions also have to do with our COVID context. I have a feeling they're going to be questions that we're going to have to lean on the subcommittees to keep an eye out for, but I'm going to ask them anyway because I think they're important and these surface to the Qualtrics Survey.
First access to personal protective equipment. If masks are required, will we be provided masks? Will students be provided masks? Will departments be provided with resources and equipment to install plexiglass shields for their offices? So personal protective equipment, and the other question is to testing and quarantine; will testing be made available on campus?
Will it be openly available only for those with symptoms? What happens if a student tests positive? It's a big set of questions.
Dean Long: Yeah. Let me start, and then I know Bill is on the health and safety subcommittee, so he can chime in on some of these. One thing I will say is the President Stanley has been pretty consistent about saying, yes, the expectation will be that people when they're on campus will be wearing masks. And there's a lot of conversation about, well, does mean all the time on campus? What about when you're outside walking between campus?
I think at minimum there is the very strong expectation and dare we even say requirement that students in classrooms and faculty in classrooms will be wearing masks. We know enough about how the virus spreads, we know that having masks, especially in enclosed spaces without a lot of airflow is a very effective way of mitigating the spread of the virus.
But again, on the DEI, the subcommittee, as you can imagine, especially in a time when the role of police and policing is a significant issue for everyone, for us on campus and how that plays out with respect to minoritized groups, we are hesitant to use coercion and enforcement language. We really want to try to address a lot of this with regard to community norms and modeling behavior, recognizing that as many of you will have seen, the lines outside of Harper's with everyone not distancing and not masking.
And then what I think is coming out in the news today, 10 cases of COVID-19 coming out of…
Bill Hart-Davidson, CAL Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Studies:
Dean Long: Oh, 14. So Bill will be able to... But Bill, do you want to talk a little bit about some of the issues around PPE? My understanding is that every employee at MSU will be given at least one mask. That will not be sufficient for what you need if you're coming into campus regularly, I will say that. Yesterday we had a reception to wish Teresa Sullivan a fun farewell to her position as interim provost and at the end of the month.
We had the first reception that the University Club ever did since COVID-19 on the terrorists there, and all deans, and the president, and probably everybody, we were all in masks. It was pretty surreal on the one hand and we made it through, but it's also everybody as I did, when I got into my car, it was like, whoa, okay, great. Take this thing off. So it's going to be a challenge for us.
Go ahead, Bill.
Bill: Yeah. As Chris said, all the employees are getting a mask and students will each get a kit that includes some PPE as well as some information. That's the plan currently. Chris is right, in the health and safety subcommittee, we talked a lot today about... It seems pretty settled that mask wearing in classrooms is going to be the requested norm and we're brainstorming already now about ways to work on adherence and behavior change to talk about that. So stay tuned for that.
The question of who bears the cost is an interesting one. In the research space, which is the only place I've seen that's mostly decided is that public areas will be the responsibility of the university and IPF. So building entrances and so forth, we'll have sanitation and hand sanitizer. IPF will also engage in the enhanced cleaning protocols for those spaces, but any special facilities, labs et cetera that belong to units, the units are going to bear the additional costs for equipment and PPE for those spaces.
You can imagine there's some head scratching going on about, okay, so what does that exactly mean? I would say, it's still getting worked out, which spaces are which. I saw on the list, one of the questions is, "What about computer labs?" I think that's one of the questions still. We don't quite know about those yet.
Dean Long: So some good questions, Danielle in the Q&A about issues of accessibility with respect to clear masks. And I mentioned to Yohanna that we definitely, and I know Cara has been working on this too, we definitely have that on our radar and we've made sure that they're ordering a significant number of clear masks.
Bill: One other point, the question also asked about testing and contact tracing and not to punt, but those are two separate subcommittees. I was in contact with someone on the contact tracing committee today, they met today. They are planning a robust testing capacity and it will probably include into individual testing for both well and healthy individuals, and also some manner of group-based testing.
That may be testing the wastewater and population level monitoring to see if there are indications of the virus in specific buildings like residence halls, for example.
Danielle: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. The next set of questions aren't very too far away. They specifically have to do with the budget impacts of our current crisis. And the first question is, are there layoffs planned right now related low enrollment sections or related to the overall budget? And if no layouts are planned, when will decisions be made?
Dean Long: Okay. Thanks, Danielle. Let me give the brief part answer first, and then go back up and give a little bit of context. So the brief answer with respect to academic year 21, which is this academic year coming up 2021, we are not planning layoffs. But I want to give you a little bit of background and we'll have more communication around this in the days to come.
I was trying to figure out how best to send a communication around the budget issues to everyone in the wake of the communications that we've had recently from the president, the first and last Friday, the Steven Hsu communication, and then yesterday, the communication around salary reduction. Then I figured we were going to be meeting, so let us have this meeting, and then we'll do some more... I'll give a communication around the budget issue.
Let me just give a little bit of context. The president's letter from yesterday mentioned a 3% budget cut to the units. I would say actually it's a 4% budget cut because he didn't include the ongoing 1%, what we call the give-back… this tax that we give back to the university in strategic investment, which in our case it's good that that's continuing on because of some of the resources that we're getting for the department of African-American and African Studies is coming from that re-investment pool.
But it is a 4% cut that we have to take as a unit. We were asked to do that with a deadline of, I think, a week and a half or two weeks to get our spring budget letter in. So what we did was we talked to the chairs and directors, and we had been focused during early May on outlining a contingency planning document that would operationalize our values and priorities in terms of a set of principles.
That document is available on the website, and I will post the link to it after I'm done talking so that you can see it. It tries to outline the ways in which we're going to put our values into practice and making decisions about the budget. We had a short turnaround with respect to this current budget year, and so what we had to do in consultation with the chairs and directors was we... So we had to come up with basically a $1.4 million cut in recurring dollars. That's what that 4% really looks like for us this year.
And recurring dollars means not temporary money, not OCCI money. This is money that it is a part of our recurring general budget, so these are real cuts that hurt. We were able to identify about $670,000 of recurring money through retirement savings that we returned to the university. So that cuts that number of $1.4 million down to a little over $800,000 or so.
The remaining of that, we were able to identify temporary funds, and basically thinking about this as bridge funding for the year, and a lot of that is predicated on the suspension of travel that we had to implement. So we were able to come up with the resources that way. We've had to figure out a way to give us a little more time to both identify more cuts, but most importantly, to engage the broader community, you all.
To engage our chairs and directors, to engage the CAC, to engage our faculty senators, and to engage our faculty more broadly in making recommendations around budget cuts that are recurring and then have an impact on all of us. I'm going to talk a second about the process we're putting into place to empower that, but I want to mention that this $1.4 million that we've now basically bridged, remember now we still have about $800,000 that from this year, fiscal year 21 coming up, that we still have to find recurring monies for.
So add to that and anticipated cut in Fiscal '22, which would be academic year '21/'22, and we're anticipating that we are going to need to find about $1.9 million in recurring money in Fiscal '22. That means, and there are a number of things around that that are really unknown. We don't know the impact of the virus with respect to whether we'll have a vaccine or not.
We don't know what the State appropriation is going to be given that MSU and... Oh the Michigan State government funds are in severe deficit at the moment. And we don't know the impact on tuition with respect to the virus. So there's a huge number of unknowns with respect to that Fiscal '22 budget number.
But what we're going to do is we're going to... We've established what we're calling a College Budget Reduction Taskforce and that has three subcommittees. And we're going to ask chairs, directors, and some associate deans, and then some members of the faculty through the CAC, maybe some faculty senators to come on to, help us with this.
The three subcommittees with regard to the budget reduction taskforce are focusing first on curriculum and programs, looking across the curriculum, where are there ways that we can make substantive curricular adjustments that will lead to lasting savings over time? Another is around personnel and staffing that will look at generally appointments, and assignments, and things like that, both in the academic side and in staff side of it.
Then the third one will be broadly speaking, academic structures. Are there some structural changes that we could make that would lead to both high quality educational programming and work, as well as budget reduction? So all of these subcommittees will be working...
First of all, during the summer work, we're going to be doing a lot of data gathering and things like that, and as faculty come back in the fall, we're going to have more faculty engagement onto those subcommittees so that we're not asking people to do work while they're off contract. And we're going to have an end of September, early October deadline for recommendations to the dean, to me, and to the Dean's office about where we might find some of these more permanent cuts.
It's going to be painful and that's why it's critical from my perspective to have it be inclusive and dialogical in terms of how we do this. And the idea will be then to pull the recommendations up through the conversations that you are having through the subcommittees.
I will say another piece of this is that we have not, unlike other colleges just decided to pass the 4% budget cuts down to the units and just said, "Okay, hey, you deal with it, you find 4%." We don't think that's equitable. We know different units have different affordances and limitations. So part of this budget reduction taskforce will also be working with our financial advisory board and with our chairs and directors to try to identify what's the right number, what's a reasonable number we could ask from units to contribute to this reduction.
But to be clear, the Dean's office projects and work is on the table with regard to all of this has to be because what we can get at some scale that you can't get at the units. A lot of this is going to require some really creative thinking. That was a long answer, but I wanted to get at least the general thrust out there technically.
Danielle: Thank you. That was really helpful in thinking about the ways in which these broad budget cuts will impact the college and impact units and departments. This next question, I'm going to ask a bit differently, and that means nothing I know to a lot of you who haven't seen the list of questions. The question was, "Can you provide clarity on which budget cuts will be temporary and which will be permanent?"
And I'd like to toggle that to, how can faculty and staff get involved in university level decision making about cuts, for instance, the 10% to 5% retirement margin? How can we advocate for ourselves and enter in those discussions? The reduction of non-union faculty and academic specialists cut between 0.5% and 7% depending on your salary, what are the best venues for us to have a voice in those conversations and those actions?
Dean Long: Thanks, Danielle. I think in terms of the broader conversations, we have such awesome faculty senators, and I know that they are engaged with this. We really need to model for the university what shared governance is going to look like at that level as well. And I know they've been so proactive in pushing on a variety of issues. And I think we need to make sure that we are working with our other college senators as well, senators in other colleges so that we can create solidarity across colleges to try to mobilize big changes in the voice that are needed.
I will say just personally, and then I'll actually kick it over maybe to Sonja for a few minutes to talk a little bit about how some of those conversations about the budget, and assignments, and things are happening at the unit levels. But when the president mentioned this idea about the budget, the retirement reductions, the benefit reduction, so retirement moving from 10% to 5% contribution from MSU, as you can imagine, the deans were not happy with respect to the competitive advantage it took away from us.
Because one of the things we struggle with is our salary. Those aren't always as high as our competitors, but we've been able to rely on this higher contribution. Now, the various things that they're facing at the university level with respect to the budget issues, they're massive; sending all the students home, giving refunds for housing, all of the resources around the auxiliary services. By that, I mean the residence halls, and IPF and all of that. There's huge budget challenges in that regard.
They are garnering about $30 million of recurring money with that reduction, and that was a big, important number from the president's perspective. We did argue for, and did not win the argument for a prorated way of doing that, so that those making more would receive a higher reduction than those making less, and also try to push on, well, what about people who are earlier in their career versus those who are later? So we did push on those.
I just want to be on record of saying that, but decisions had to be made and the decision was made to do this and across the board, the way that happened. We did get traction on the budget reductions for salaries and having that be at a prorated level, which I think is really important.
Maybe I could turn it over to Sonja to talk a little bit about some of those questions around how we're documenting for people who have had amazing years and aren't going to have the salary increases because we don't have to the American market.
Sonja Fritzsche, CAL Associate Dean of Academic Personnel and Administration:
Yeah, thanks and I really appreciate this question. I wanted to just start a little bit with how the raise process works because I think maybe not everyone is... That's clear to everyone. You go through the annual review process, there's a merit raise process that takes place in your department. Then also every year there's a potential for the chair to put forward people for a market raise, which money for that is taken from the dean's withhold, which is a piece that is withheld from the overall raise pool.
This is a tenure stream and continuing academic specialist raise pool. Then also there's a provost market fund, so the market raises come out of those two. So every year, raises have to do with the merit recommendations that come from the department, and then the chair recommendations that are the market recommendations to the dean.
Then in addition, you have people who are being promoted or tenured and promoted or promoted for whatever appointment on type that they are, and those raises that are associated with promotion are still going to happen this year. So be rest assured that that raise is still in place. I think what's concerned about is for people who've had an extra really good year, a concern there is that the potential that they would have had to get a market raise on top of that, or really high merit raise due to the fact that those raise pools are not present this year.
That's a challenge and I completely understand that, but do know that they were always dealing and chairs are always looking at issues of race compression. We look at that every year. We look at where people are with regards to their peers in the department, in the college across the big 10 in all of the R1 institutions. And so we're constantly looking at this and making sure that people are where they need to be.
Then also if you have a really great year, document this. Please make sure that that goes into the information that you submit. And that can be potentially considered in a subsequent year or subsequent years. This is a topic that thinking about workload, we need to... I think we've been so focused on the fall at this point and putting all of our energies into that, but I know there are a lot of other questions surrounding, what about my workload?
I'm not getting to the research that I need to. I had a sabbatical and oh, it went really well for some people and others had real challenges. So there's a lot of variation. We will be having these conversations, but we need to figure out the fall first. And there are a lot of ideas and thank you for all of the input that you've been sending me, continue to send that input. And I'm collecting all of that and we will be having these conversations.
Also, I want to go back to what Chris is talking about is, these are conversations that you need to be having in your units too about how will you address this in your own unit? Please feel empowered as faculty members, as academic staff to be, not just waiting for a decision to come down. That's not how we're doing this, that we need your input so we can collectively make the best decision.
Because if we don't have that input, then we're not always aware of what some of the issues are.
Danielle: Thank you. I would imagine too College Advisory Council would just be one mechanism for sharing information and continuing these conversations in the fall. Are there other groups or college committees for people to bring the advocacy work that they're doing in their departments to the college?
Dean Long: Well, I think we have a number of... It depends a little bit on which set of issues that we have. So we have CIPC, the Inclusive Practices Committee where we can bring issues around inclusive practices. We have the curriculum committee, we have the graduate committee, so there's a number of committees that we can bring things through.
I would say, I'm very interested in working with you, Danielle and the CAC around seeing how we can engage the faculty senators and their various assignments within faculty senate in conversations so that we can be coordinated in some of the things that we're advocating for. Because if I was aware of... One thing that I've always known, but it was made very clear to me in the last couple of weeks was the power of the advocacy that you all can do with respect to something like, for example the former vice President for Research, Steve Hsu and the work that I as a dean can do.
It's not always public letter, signing and writing, it's behind the scenes, and Bill I know is working on, and a number of us are working on that in a different kind of way that's not always visible. So this kind of coordinated effort is really very helpful and I'll try to be candid with everyone about where I'm seeing challenges with respect to my own ability to navigate the upper administration.
Because the fact of the matter is I need to have working relationships with everybody up there, and the better my working relationships with them are, the more effective I think we'll be with it.
Danielle: Thank you. I am hoping to be able to pour your and Sonja's responses to that previous question to this next question. And by that I mean, I hope that this is something that departments and units are engaging their faculty in conversations around, and the question is, what will the university do to or for employees, including faculty staff, grad students who can't be on campus, or if they don't feel comfortable or safe being on campus?
Are there guidelines for assigning teaching assignments? What is the chain of command?
Dean Long: All right. I'm going to start, and then Sonja, I think will talk a little bit about this. As I said earlier, yes, I see the language of chain of command, and yeah, we are in an institution with a hierarchy, and that's an important thing. And when we get to a situation where it's completely intractable, we're going to have maybe some harder conversations.
But I really want to be working with everyone with the chairs, with the directors, with the faculty who are in the teaching assignments to try to figure out a way to live up to the two values I said earlier, we're in conflict, namely... We could be in conflict at least theoretically. The need to have some portion of our courses in hybrid and in-person environments, and the need and the desire to have a portion online.
The decision was made, the president made the decision to bring students back to this campus, and this is related a little bit, I think to Julie Lindquist had asked a question about the diversity equity and inclusion, questions that arise from that very decision itself, because we know that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts minoritized groups. And it has a disproportionate impact on those who are above the age of 60, one third of our faculty fall into that category.
I think all of those things were considered. I think what the president ultimately came to was the impact on the university for not trying to bring students back this fall in some form would be too destructive to allow. And so we might disagree with that, we might have made a disparate decision if we were in that place, but from my perspective, now we have to think about, okay, what can we do to navigate into that with an eye toward student success and an eye toward as much agency for faculty as we can?
And I think those decisions and that process is best facilitated at the unit level with support from us. We are very much supported, but what we're... Sometimes the support from the dean's office means fine cover for, okay, the dean mandated this, and now you will do this. I want to avoid that modality as best we can. On the other hand, when it's a time when we have a specific case where we know students will be adversely impacted, we really need to make sure that there's advocacy for the student experience as well.
So this is going to be a balancing issue, and I'll kick it over to Sonja who is well versed in dealing with these dicey situations.
Sonja: I'm getting better and better versed. I also want to point out I am in Linton today and the reason I am, and I'm not wearing a mask because nobody's here. I do want to say that. But I'm also here because I love my son, but he has gotten to interrupting me so much and I wanted to be able to put full attention on this meeting instead of having half of my attention with my son at the same time.
So that is why I'm here, so I am in the middle of a lot of these challenges that people are having an also want to recognize the variety of challenges that people are having. I am on the HR subcommittee task force for the return to campus task force, and so we are actively dealing with these issues, and I'm bringing all of the concerns that we have in the college to that task force.
I'm on a subcommittee of a subcommittee that's on policies and the word compliance, which is an interesting thing to be thinking about here too. But to speak directly to this, I do want to say that it's important, first of all to recognize that we want to keep people safe and healthy. Then I'm going to quote my associate dean colleague, Bill Davidson, who also says, "There's a second priority there that we have a high quality education to our students."
And these align quite often, but sometimes they're going to come and dialogue with each other and we're going to have to figure out how do we do both at the same time? Just remember there, we still have the normal standard processes of accommodation in place. The American for Disabilities Act, one of my favorite acts by the way has provision, not just for people with disabilities, recognized disabilities, but also chronic health conditions.
And also then a coverage for people who are caregivers. That coverage is not always mandated, but it's an optional interpretation by the university. And I will certainly be working to make sure that that is honored and also we will absolutely be working with that in the college as well. There is also the FMLA as an option still, and through December 31st, we have the emergency FMLA leave. Please do remember that.
But what's I think important getting back to the question of health and safety and pedagogy, when these are in dialogue with each other and potentially there is a challenge with how do we meet both of the goals, this is where we have to have these unit level conversations. This is not something that can be met with a directive. That's not the human thing to do and we need them to be helping you with some structures.
There's a flexibility work plan that the Work-Life office uses already, actually just for flex work plan, it helps to focus on what's the work that needs to be done. There are a couple of guidelines that we can provide. Those will be part of a college return to campus plan as well that we will have faculty and chairs and directors feedback on that.
So the important thing here is that we continue to have conversations so that we can be talking about how are we best implementing and considering the values and the priorities that we have. And also then how can we ensure the safety of the people in the college.
Danielle: Excellent. Thank you. Thank you very much. We don't have too much time left before we go into open discussion. I know there's some great questions in the Q&A right now, but two questions, important ones that shift our gears a bit, and the first has to do with Arts and Arts representation. And again, this was collected via Qualtrics by CAC.
Chris, could you talk with us a bit about how you're planning to continue to work on your and the college's attention to an understanding of the Arts, perhaps, including but beyond of the establishment of the Dean's Arts Advisory Council?
Dean Long: Thanks, Danielle. I would first want to say, thank you and to the CAC and to everyone who participated in the reappointment process. I am honored to be able to continue to be the Dean of the college and had a really good conversation with Provost Sullivan about... Which I took to be a formative process where I got to hear real feedback about my leadership of the college and the challenges that we've faced, and that I'm that I have faced personally too in leading the college.
One issue that she raised is this issue around the Arts and the profile of the Arts and leadership from the Arts in our leadership team, and also how we're prioritizing that with respect to the work that we move ahead. So I appreciate this question, Danielle.
I am very grateful to have Alison Dobbins serving as FEA and she has been really wonderful to work with over the last few months. And I am committed to making sure that we're mindful of art representation and leadership opportunities in the college moving forward. I will say that we have made the art strategy, which is admittedly had a little bit of, I wouldn't call it a launch yet at all because of all of the changes at the university.....