I am writing today to thank you for your continued efforts and significant accomplishments in adapting to unprecedented change for our students and our university over the last six weeks. While the COVID-19 crisis has presented a wide variety of challenges and hardships, I remain impressed with what you have been able to accomplish in such a short time. Since Spring Break, you have moved nearly 2,600 sections online, transitioned from work on campus to work at home, implemented multiple new policies and procedures to assist our students and faculty, and, overall, responded exceptionally well to the call to “Keep Teaching.”
At its April 13th meeting, Appalachian’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution addressing issues caused by COVID-19. I am fully supportive of this resolution, and wish to assure you that the administration most certainly recognizes the significant disruptions to your teaching, research, and service that have been caused by this crisis. The time and resources that you have expended to move your courses online and to work with your students during these stressful times have been immense, and the Chancellor and her leadership team greatly appreciate your dedication to continued academic excellence in the face of a global pandemic. This is not only a testament to your professionalism and hard work, but to your dedication to students and to Appalachian’s endurance.
We are working with the Senate and academic departments to create flexibility with regard to interpretations of the Faculty Handbook on issues of contract renewals, reappointment, tenure, promotion, and post tenure review. More specifically, over the past few weeks, we have been working with our deans and chairs to make adjustments to deadlines for annual reviews and post-tenure reviews. We have also worked with the Faculty Senate on a temporary policy to extend the tenure clock for our pre-tenured faculty, to be voted on at the next Senate meeting. We will certainly continue to work with the Senate and our academic colleges and departments to ensure flexibility.
Additionally, I ask that you begin, or continue, conversations in your departments regarding how to best evaluate faculty performance given the significant impact on teaching, research, and service that has occurred this semester and that may continue. The Faculty Senate resolution called upon individual departments to enact policies associated with the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Finally, regarding research and professional development programming, I assure you that, to the greatest possible extent, deadlines and services will be adjusted to address the COVID-19 disruptions.
Again, I thank you for all that you’ve done and continue to do for our students and this university. I will work closely with the Faculty Senate and with our academic colleges and departments to ensure that your excellent work can continue as smoothly as possible during this crisis, and always.
On a more personal note, I have been at Appalachian for nearly 17 years. As a faculty member, I chose to come here in 2003 because of our clear mission and accomplishment of teaching excellence. I am so proud to be part of a group of faculty who continue to be dedicated to students and to each other, to excellence in teaching, and to excellence in research and community. While I have been greatly impressed with and humbled by what you have accomplished in these six short weeks, I am not at all surprised. You are Appalachian and Appalachian is excellence.
With deep appreciation,
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor