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Weekly Update: Making It Work

Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:

Congratulations! You’ve made it through your first week of the “new” online semester. Based on what we’re hearing from faculty and students, the online instruction and experience are off to a good start. This has everything to do with your can-do spirit, willingness to adapt and pivot, and dedication to our students’ success. We truly appreciate your effort!

Below are a few updates and reminders as you begin another week of course delivery online.

Finals Week

Final Exams week has been extended to accommodate the added load on eCampus. A more detailed schedule will be announced (and shared with students) on April 10, 2020. A few points of general information:

  • Final Exams will run Friday, May 1, through Sunday, May 10.
  • Final Grades will be due at noon on Wednesday, May 13.
  • There will be exams scheduled on Saturdays – May 2 and May 9.
  • There will be make-up exams only on Sundays – May 3 and May 10.
  • eCampus will need to be locked down for large testing blocks only from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on May 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. This will accommodate large course sections.

HP/P/F Grading Option

As I mentioned in last week’s email, we have adjusted some of our academic policies to provide leniency for students during this unusual semester. The revised pass/fail grading option for undergraduate students is now available upon their request. They are able to select High Pass/Pass/Fail (HP/P/F) grading on a course-by-course basis.

Undergraduate students considering this option should discuss HP/P/F grading with their academic advisor before filling out the online request form. Some departments require advisor approval before the change is implemented. It is important that students understand the impact of this grading option on GPA, degree progression and graduate or professional school applications. Once the HP/P/F option has been selected for a course, it cannot be reversed.

Complete details about HP/P/F grading, along with FAQs and the online request form are available online. The deadline for requests is April 24. This revised policy is for undergraduate students only.

Copyright Concerns

Many faculty members and instructors have raised questions regarding copyright restrictions and concerns with moving content to remote delivery. There appears to be increased flexibility regarding what constitutes “Fair Use” of copyrighted works. Faculty are encouraged to review the information found on the WVU Libraries website. Please direct any questions to your dean’s office.

Communicating with Your Students

You may recall my February message about taking an “all in” approach to student retention and success. That message rings true even more so in our current situation. The Faculty Senate Teaching and Assessment Committee – or TaCo for short – recently encouraged faculty to “take the pulse” of their students.

Ask how your students are doing, what’s working and what has been challenging for them. Listen to their needs and suggestions and be flexible where you can. The WVU Teaching and Learning Commons website has tools and templates for communicating with your students.

Also, remind students of the resources available to them through the website. The site will direct them to virtual support services through the ITS help desk, Carruth Center, WVU Libraries, tutoring, the Office of Accessibility Services and the Mountaineer Hub. It also provides best practices for online learning, as this may be some students’ first attempt at an online class.

Celebrating Successes

While the majority of our messages and news stories have been focused on COVID-19 planning and mitigation, we need to balance that information with stories that highlight our achievements – and resiliency – during this time.

Congratulations to Usha Sambamoorthi, interim department chair and professor in the School of Pharmacy, for being named the recipient of the 2020 Faculty Award for Distinction in Graduate Research Mentoring. In addition, four faculty members were named as the recipients of the 2020 Faculty Award for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research – Cole Vonder Haar, assistant professor in the Eberly College; Daniel Panaccione, Davis-Michael professor in the Davis College; Travis Stimeling, associate professor in the College of Creative Arts; and Jessica Hoover, associate professor in the Eberly College. These honors highlight the faculty members’ exceptional commitment to mentoring our students in research and creative endeavors.

I also want to recognize the creative approaches that our faculty have applied to this situation. Many of you are taking your original plans for events and services and shifting them to a virtual format.

One example is the annual Three-Minute Thesis Grand Finale, sponsored by the Office of Graduate Education and Life. Usually a face-to-face event, event organizers asked the top 10 finalists to upload videos of their three-minute presentations. Judging took place online, including the People’s Choice Award, which garnered more than 2,000 votes. Watch E-News for the winners to be announced soon.

Some faculty have adapted their Transform This! Challenge Grants to the online environment as well. While we extended project completion deadlines to next fall because of the COVID-19 crisis, faculty leading two of those projects decided to keep their momentum going.

  • The Ambassadors for Change class, led by Kathryn Williamson with the Honors College, will hold a Virtual Campus Conversation about first-generation collegiate issues. The goal of the Ambassadors for Changeclass is to further the education of first-generation students and gain a better understanding of the challenges those students face in college. The event will be on April 13, 6-7:30 p.m., and include student presentations and a QA panel. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate.
  • Mountaineers Move, a program developed by the Exercise is Medicine on Campus leadership team in the Division of Exercise Physiology, originally planned to host exercise education and fitness classes across the Morgantown campuses during the spring semester. Led by Miriam Leary in the School of Medicine, Mountaineers Move has gone online instead! Their YouTube channel offers free online exercise programming to all Mountaineers across the WVU system – and beyond. Users can subscribe to the channel for daily “Fit Tips” that highlight strategies for increasing physical activity during social distancing.

These examples and more demonstrate to me the resiliency of the Mountaineer spirit. We have always been scrappy and resourceful, doing more with less and finding ways to differentiate and excel no matter the circumstances. We should all take pride in how quickly we have adapted to this crisis and kept our spirits up and our University moving forward.

And finally, even though it is not “business as usual” at WVU, my office is working hard to ensure the success of our faculty and students – both this semester and into the future. Take time to browse the information and resources on our website and let us know how we can help.

Reed signature
Maryanne Reed
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs