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Wrapping Up Spring 2021 and Looking Ahead

Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:

April showers bring May (and even April!) flowers. And this year, the spring season feels even more like a renewal, with the clouds of COVID-19 beginning to lift.

As we wrap up one of the most challenging school years on record and look ahead to the warmer days of summer, I want to be sure that we take time to celebrate your achievements and provide the resources you need to plan ahead.

Please refer to the following updates and join me in celebrating your colleagues and students as we round out the 2020-2021 academic year. The following message includes:

  • Reminder about vaccination clinics
  • Updates on awards and recognition efforts
  • End of the semester reminders
  • Reminder about the Refresh Employee series
  • Details about the extended Childcare Emergency Fund
  • Update on the COVID-19 Faculty Accommodations Requests
  • Notification of upcoming 12-month pay survey
  • Update on Academic Transformation

Remember that each of these messages is archived on the Office of the Provost website for future reference.


Vaccine Clinics Available

COVID-19 vaccines continue to be available to faculty, staff and students. As was announced in ENEWS earlier this week, WVU will host its next COVID-19 vaccination clinic next week on Tuesday, April 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center. WVU will provide the Pfizer vaccine at the clinic. The second dose will be administered at the clinic on Tuesday, May 11. Complete details can be found in ENEWS and the Return to Campus website.

Many of you are asking what Fall will look like — whether vaccines will be required, whether we will continue wearing masks and whether social distancing guidelines will continue to be followed. Please know that the University administration is working with our medical experts and our COVID-19 planning committees to determine the best course of action for the Fall 2021 semester. We will soon have an update to share.


Awards and Recognition

During Spring semester, we recognize and celebrate our faculty and instructors who have demonstrated excellence in their teaching, research and service. This week is WVU’s third-annual Research Week – a partnership between the Office of the Provost and the Research Office to showcase the volume and caliber of research across our institution. The week has been filled with events highlighting the research by faculty, staff and students that shapes us as the state’s only R1 institution.

Also part of Research Week is the Office of the Provost’s annual Long-Form Scholarship Celebration, which was shifted to a virtual showcase last year in the hopes of reaching a wider audience and continuing the celebration despite the pandemic. Work included in the 2021 showcase was published, released or produced between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

This year’s Research Week also features a celebration of Sarah Burke-Spolaor, who was named as a 2021 Sloan Fellow and emerging leader in science earlier this year. Join President Gee and Vice President for Research Fred King for a celebration toast later today.

Over the next month, we will continue to announce our internal awards honoring exceptional teaching, research and services. Please join me in congratulating the recipients who have been recognized to date:


Finally, be sure to mark your calendars for the first annual WVU Adviser Appreciation Day on April 20, a partnership between the Academic Advising Council and the Office of the Provost. We are encouraging WVU students, faculty and staff to show their appreciation for our academic advisers and to celebrate their colleagues across all WVU campuses.

Continue to watch ENEWS for more upcoming award announcements!


End-of-Semester Reminders

Drop Date

Faculty and instructors may want to remind their students that today (Friday, April 16) is the last day to drop an individual course for the full Spring term with a “W” or withdraw from all courses for the Spring term. Students should note that drop dates may differ for different term calendars. Students should refer to the add/drop dates calendar and the withdrawal policies on the Registrar’s website for details.


Ramadan and Finals

Please also keep in mind that a number of our students are celebrating the Islamic month of Ramadan from April 12 – May 12. As final exams occur during this time, students may ask to reschedule exams. If so, please consider using a time on Saturday, May 8, as it has been set aside for make-up exams. Please see an earlier March message for additional details on rescheduling exams and proctoring availability.


Refresh Series

While I know that you each are committed to the overall wellbeing and success of our students, please know that WVU is committed to yours as well. There are still upcoming events through the WVU Refresh Employee Series, including Dorie’s Dinner Party and WVU Employee and Family Day at Mylan Pool. Be sure to visit the Refresh website for details!


Resources and Information for Planning Ahead

Childcare Emergency Relief Fund

The Provost’s Office will continue to offer its WVU Faculty Childcare Emergency Relief Fund to eligible faculty members through Summer 2021.

Eligible faculty members across the WVU system can apply to receive up to $1,000 of childcare funding between Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. Summer funding eligibility will continue to be based on need but will expand to include teaching Summer courses or preparing for Fall courses, focusing on research the faculty member was unable to complete this past academic year due to COVID-19 (for untenured faculty only), or completing significant service obligations.

Complete details and application information are available on the WVU Women’s Resource Center website.


COVID-19-Related Accommodations

Last summer, the Office of the Provost, in consultation with General Counsel, Medical Management and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, developed a process for managing requests for COVID-19-related accommodations for the Fall and Spring semesters. In many instances, the University elected to temporarily exceed certain legal requirements imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act in granting accommodations related to or required because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approved accommodations may have temporarily relieved certain essential functions of an employee’s job during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as being required to be physically present on campus. As these accommodations were intended to only be temporary in nature – and given the changing nature of the pandemic, including treatments, vaccines and changing state and federal guidelines – the University is reviewing the need for employee accommodations specific to COVID-19 for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Faculty, instructors and graduate assistants will be required to renew any request for a COVID-19-related accommodation for the 2021-2022 academic year and should be aware that future adjustments may differ from past or current accommodations.

Please visit the COVID-19 accommodations page on the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website for updated information and the revised request form.


Twelve-Month Pay Survey

At the request of WVU Talent and Culture, the Office of the Provost will soon be sending out a survey to gauge faculty interest in moving to a 12-month pay structure. We encourage all faculty to participate in the survey.


Academic Transformation Update

As was shared with Faculty Senate earlier this week, we are making good progress on Academic Transformation. A more detailed outline of the process for program portfolio review and an updated timeline are now available. This process will help to identify which academic programs should be considered for future action — to create, grow, reduce or sunset. Both the Academic Advisory Committee and Deans Committee have provided invaluable feedback on the criteria to be used when evaluating the “health” of academic programs.

It is important to note that, while adhering to relevant BOG policies, this is an accelerated process, separate from the regular five-year program review. However, academic units whose programs may be identified for future action will be notified and given time to respond before any program recommendations are made to the BOG. Academic leaders, faculty and staff in those units will be able to provide a narrative and other contextual information that will be considered in the decision-making process.

As a reminder, the goal of Academic Transformation isn’t just about reducing costs. It’s about refocusing our efforts and realigning our resources to support new areas of growth and opportunity that will make our University stronger and more resilient. This work will likely continue over the next several years, and faculty will have many opportunities to engage in the work and help the University envision its future.

Updated information on the other areas of Academic Transformation will soon be available. Please watch your email, ENEWS and the Academic Transformation website for additional updates. Questions about academic transformation can be sent to academictransformation@mail.wvu.edu.


Final Thoughts

With vaccines now becoming widely available in West Virginia, there is hope on the horizon for a return to a more “normal” Summer and Fall. But I recognize that there is still some uncertainty and generalized anxiety about the future. Please know that both President Gee and I – and the rest of the WVU administration – are doing everything we can to position the University for success. We will continue to work with you to make the University a place of opportunity, possibility and hope.

Thank you for all you have done during this difficult year. And good luck as we head into the home stretch of the Spring semester.


Sincerely,


Reed signature
Maryanne Reed
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs