Image of COVID-19 virus



As has been announced, the Board of Regents has suspended face-to-face instruction from Monday, March 23 until Monday, April 6. The assumption is that courses will move to an online format during this time period. However, with the ever-evolving information we are receiving, I am considering this a fluid situation. As such, I would suggest developing an approach for your classes that may potentially carry to the end of the semester in the event the return to face-to-face classes will be later than April 6.

I will have three guiding principles during this period. They are principles that I try to hold all the time, but I intend to elevate them even more for the remainder of the semester.

Principle 1: Be kind. People are under extreme stress right now. Part of the stress will be caused by the change in our professional lives. But other parts of the stress are caused by disruptions to other parts of our daily lives, concern about our loved ones, and concern about our students. As I encounter people, I will work to remember the stress that they are facing and will work to be kind and understanding.

Principle 2: Support of faculty and staff. I am aware that this change creates incredible challenges for our faculty and staff. My pledge is that I will provide as much support as I can in this situation. I am developing a list of questions and ideas for support of faculty. This support may look different for each department or even each faculty member, but we will work to provide that support. (Some of the ideas for support are after my signature line in this email.)

Principle 3: Student success. The overarching goal of our strategic plan is student success. This is an incredibly challenging and stressful time for our students. Some of our students are planning to graduate in May and will be wondering what will happen to them. Others will be facing financial challenges due to the changes in their employment. And, as we announce moving classes online, many will not have access to our classes. And, some will be facing health issues, including mental health issues, which will not be related to COVID-19.

I am asking each of you to help ensure that students will continue to progress toward graduation. Each class may have a different solution to keeping people on track to graduation. And, in many classes, multiple solutions may be required for students who face very different situations.

This is a challenging situation, but especially for our faculty. The good news is that, as one of the Department Heads said about the faculty in his department, “We are smart people. Let’s figure it out.”

So… Principle 4: We are smart people. Let’s figure it out.



John Fritch

Dean, College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences

Professor, Communication Studies


Faculty and Staff Support Issues:

1.       Faculty Travel. Faculty travel cancelled or impacted during this time will be reimbursed up to the amount of lost funds as if the travel had actually taken place. This is true whether the travel was cancelled by the university or a decision made by the faculty member.

2.       Faculty Presentations at Conferences. Faculty members will be unable to make presentations at conferences for a variety of reasons. The CHAS Dean will treat such work as having been presented.

3.       Laptop Checkout. Laptops should be available for some faculty to check out. CHAS has several laptop computer labs, as do other colleges. I have asked IT to allow faculty to check these computers out to faculty and students. Laptops will be re-imaged before being checked out, so the process will take some time. However, we hope to have several available for faculty.

4.       Cameras for Computers. CHAS will be purchasing some cameras for computers. Currently, we are exploring the options for what kind to buy. My intention is to provide some to departments for checkout and also to keeps some in CHAS for checkout should a department run low.

5.       Technology for Lecture Capture and Courses. One suggestion I have seen is to consider using YouTube to deliver lectures as it has Closed Captioning. Also, YouTube is likely the largest platform, so it may be the most likely to remain stable as many universities are making the move to online teaching.

6.       Pass/Fail option for courses. I am encouraging departments to consider allowing faculty to determine if a course should be completed in a pass/fail option. I also am working with the Registrar’s Office to see if this is possible.

7.       List of online resources. Several people have submitted to CHAS articles about teaching online, especially in a crisis. We will develop a list of such resources and make them available by the end of the week. However, one of the best pieces of advice I read was from a faculty member at the University of Washington who said that the goal should not be to develop the ideal pedagogical approach, but to try to determine a way to get across the most critical information in the course.

8.       Student Assessments of Teaching. I am aware of concerns about mandated student assessments for the spring. I hope to have an answer soon.

9.       Intellectual Property of Faculty. I am aware of concerns about intellectual property rights of content posted on UNI sites. I hope to have an answer soon.