Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:
The end of the 2020-21 academic year is upon us and so is the hope for a return to some normalcy in our lives.
It has been a tough year – working and living under the shadow of COVID-19. I’m sure many of you are exhausted and relieved to have this year almost behind you. The work you’ve done individually – and collectively – to keep our institution going since last March is absolutely amazing. Your commitment to our students, your colleagues and our University over the past 13 months has been a source of motivation and inspiration for me and the entire University leadership team. For that, we thank you.
As we round out this academic year, I wanted to share a few updates and reminders about the following:
- Commencement weekend
- Awards and recognition
- Professional development opportunities
- Childcare emergency relief fund
- Summer activities for children
- Vaccine verification
- Fall return-to-campus parameters
- COVID-19-related accommodations
- Academic Transformation ongoing process
As always, Remember that each of these messages is archived on the Office of the Provost website for future reference.
We are looking forward to this weekend when we will celebrate our first in-person commencement since December 2019! Under the guidance of our COVID-19 advisory team, ceremonies will be held at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium – rain or shine – on both May 15 and 16. The events will honor our 2021 graduates, along with our May, August and December 2020 graduates.
For those of you who are attending – or watching the livestreamed versions – be sure to visit the WVU Graduation website for the full schedule and webcast link. Remember that COVID restrictions will be in effect, and masks and social distancing will be required.
Awards and Recognition
Over the past two months, we have announced our internal awards honoring exceptional teaching, research, service, innovation and mentorship. Some were mentioned in my last message, but I’ve included a complete list below. Please join me in congratulating the recipients who were recognized:
- Benedum Distinguished Scholars: Cari Carpenter, Lisa Holland and Cheryl McNeil
- Digital Learning Awards:Matthew Heap, Graham Andrews, Susan Jennings Lantz, and Kimberly Floyd
- Distinction in Graduate Research Mentoring: Earl Scime
- Distinction in Undergraduate Research Mentoring: Matthew Kasson, Amy Gentzler, Justin Legleiter, and Megan Leight
- Ethel and Gerry Heebink Award for Distinguished State Service: Eloise Elliott and Lauren Prinzo
- IDEAS Faculty Fellows: Ajay Aluri, Alison Peck, Elizabeth Shorrock, Krista Sarraf, and Crosby Hipes
- James and Karen Caveney Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award: Andrea Taliaferro
- Long-Form Scholarship Celebration: View the online showcase
- Nicholas Evans Awards for Advising Excellence: William (Hal) Gorby, Sharon Tenenholz, Emily Roush, and Vivian Céspedes
- WVU Foundation Awards for Outstanding Teaching: Jody Crosno, Marina Galvez-Peralta, Alan Goodboy, Yogendra Murti Panta, and Karen Woodfork
A final round of our COVID-19 Most Valuable Player Awards were also awarded earlier this month. In addition to our Spring 2020 Teaching MVP and Fall 2020 Service MVP awards, we also acknowledged an extensive list of Research MVPs honoring faculty, staff and students who contributed a wide range of COVID-19-related scholarly activity and applied research since the onset of the pandemic. Visit the Office of the Provost’s MVP Awards website for a complete list of honorees.
Professional Development Opportunities
The WVU Teaching and Learning Commons will continue to offer a number of professional development opportunities throughout the summer:
- Applications are still being accepted for the Faculty Associates and Faculty Associates for Assessment. Faculty Associates focus on teaching support and advancement activities, while Faculty Associates for Assessment will engage in activities and projects related to the assessment of student learning. Application deadline is June 1.
- The EDGE (Educators Designing Great Experiences) Teaching Institute will run June 21 to July 2 and will guide participants through the iterative process of creating and improving upon quality course design. Highlights include a focus on curating content, engaging students and delivering hands-on learning experiences for in-person and virtual teaching modes.
- The TLC is also offering Universal Design for Learning Grants in partnership with the Office of Accessibility Services. The $3,500 stipends will support course design or re-design following Universal Design for Learning instructional goals and methods. Grantees will be assigned a course design team with representatives from TLC and OAS who will provide consultation and support. Grants are limited and submissions will close when the program is full.
Childcare Emergency Relief Fund
Faculty are reminded that 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 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.
Summer Activities for School-Aged Children
WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development Program will be running several virtual STEM camps and classes this summer for youth entering third through sixthor seventh through twelfth grade in the fall. The virtual series has free weekly STEM classes, as well as eight different four-week STEM camps that cost $20 each and include a kit of materials for the hands-on activities. Camps and classes will cover a wide range of topics, including the nature of science, the engineering design process, coding, citizen science, astronomy and much more.
There will also be a wide range of non-STEM virtual camp themes, such as cooking and civic engagement, as well as virtual camps for youth in kindergarten through second grade.
A complete list of and registration links can be found on the Extension website.
All students, faculty and staff who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 must verify their vaccination with the University by August 1 through a new COVID-19 Vaccine Verification System. Employees and students can access the Vaccine Verification System and complete the acknowledgement form via StarRez (WVU’s housing portal): myhousing.wvu.edu. Full instructions are available on the Return to Campus website. Those who do not complete the verification process will be considered unvaccinated this Fall.
Preparing for Fall
As was announced earlier this month, we plan to return to a vibrant campus experience this fall and provide in-person instruction for our students. Classes begin August 18, and the full 2021-22 academic calendar is on the Provost’s Office website. Many health and safety guidelines will still be in effect for our campus classrooms, such as mask wearing, as well as assigned seating and required attendance to facilitate contact tracing efforts. The University will continuously monitor public health guidance and disease transmission rates to make final determinations on all policies in the weeks ahead.
Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Accessibility Services to request accommodations, and employees will continue to work with Medical Management and the University’s ADA coordinator. Please refer to the specific details regarding COVID-19-related accommodations.
The Office of Global Affairs will continue to review and evaluate any proposed study abroad trips on a case-by-case basis, allowing for appropriate travel preparation. Any member of the University community (faculty, staff or student) who chooses to travel outside the country for any reason should register their travel at https://international.wvu.edu/travel/registration to ensure they receive necessary travel alerts and can receive available support.
Read the full details of the May 4 announcementon WVU Today.
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.
It is strongly encouraged that all requests for Fall 2021 be submitted by June 1. Formal decision notifications for requests submitted in this timeframe will be sent to applicants by July 1.
Academic Transformation Update
I trust that most of you have read the latest update about our Academic Transformation process. The ENEWS story also includes a video interview conducted by April Kaull, executive director of communications with University Relations and Enrollment Management.
With guidance from EAB, a higher education consultancy, we are focusing our efforts on three areas of consideration:
- Review the University’s entire academic portfolio to evaluate the “health” of its academic programs and to realign resources to support areas of growth and opportunity
- Identify areas of possible academic restructuring or consolidation that may result in cost savings but also lead to new opportunities for multidisciplinary academic programs, research and impactful outreach
- Identify instructional efficiencies and develop policies and practices that support student success, ensure consistency across faculty teaching assignments and make the best use of the University’s instructional capacity
We also have University-wide committees addressing other areas of growth and opportunity, including a Student Success Committee, a Faculty Rewards and Recognition Committee and a Graduate Education Taskforce. In addition, we have been meeting regularly throughout the Spring 2021 semester with our academic deans and Academic Advisory Committee, comprised primarily of faculty members, to review our processes and gather feedback.
While work will continue this summer with college deans and department chairs to address the initial findings from the program review and restructuring recommendations, there will be many opportunities for faculty and staff to engage in the process in the Fall. We hope that each of you will embrace the opportunities to transform and re-envision WVU’s future.
Complete details about our Academic Transformation efforts can be found on the Provost’s Office website.
We know that we asked a lot of you this year, and you more than rose to the occasion, putting the success and well-being of our students first — often at the expense of your own. While we are already looking toward the Fall semester, please take some time this summer for self-care. I hope you can spend time with family and friends, enjoy the warm weather, refill your depleted energy “bank,” and reflect on your own growth during this most extraordinary year.
Congratulations on your own graduation from the year of COVID-19! And thank you for all that you do to make our students and University successful and strong.