Dean's Update - June 2020

Hi Applied Arts,

Technically, a Dean’s Blog posting is scheduled until this coming Friday, but there are a few items that I need to bring to everyone’s attention sooner rather than later.

New student advising process

Fall 2020 might still seem a long time from now, but the University will be rolling out a new approach to advising in order to help us compete with other institutions that have well-established online learning programs. Erica Bourdon, Janna van Kessel, and Wally Rude have been organizing a more structured approach to first points of contact with students. While this will not replace the kind of in-depth program advising that students have typically gone to chairs and instructors for in the past, it will help triage the full range of questions students might have—from “How do I apply/register?” to “What kind of tech support is available to me?” to “Who do I speak to about my program in more detail?” to “How much of my program will be online this fall?” to all stops in between. Frontline advisors will have an overview of each program to work from, and each overview will include contact information for further discussions. The overall aim is for us not to leave prospective or current students hanging. Postsecondary institutions across Canada are projecting significant drops in enrolments heading toward the fall, so we cannot afford to lose students.

Vacation leaves & student advising

A key part of the advising process described above is accurate contact information. Frontline advisors will, by default, have contact information for chairs and schools. Ideally, I’d like to provide them with more. So, if you haven’t done so already, as your vacation leave plans firm up, please let your chair and admin assistant(s) know the specifics. We stand a much better chance of attracting and retaining students if folks handling first-point-of-contact questions know they link students up with instructors who are at work and available.

Info for students about online delivery

Students have already been asking questions about the fall term, and a repeat question has been about the extent/nature of online learning we’re going to be doing. With many of our programs, we’ve indicated we’ll be delivering them through a blend of web-conferencing and online learning activities but not necessarily provided a sense of how much time will be spent on each. I realize it is not always easy to determine the balance between different distance-delivery modes within a course if you have never taught in such a way before, but even if you have a rough idea, please make sure I or your chair (or both) know about it as soon as you can. We’ll in turn make sure this level of detail is available to frontline advisors, so students can have a clear picture of what their fall term will look like. There is also an internal reason this information is helpful: ITLC and the VPA are trying to get a handle on how many Zoom licenses and how much cloud storage the University will require this fall.

Workloads

With the Union’s blessing, the deadline to complete workload agreements has been extended to the end of June (it is normally end of May). As we’re already well into June, that means a lot of conversations in a short period of time—with a degree of uncertainty hanging over everything because of COVID. I want to build on efforts from last year’s workload process to make the language in workload agreements more consistent across the division. Two things come to mind in this regard: (1) Section A (Direct Instruction) must include only courses or course releases (referencing other work documented in Section B or C); and (2) common language introduced last year for line items in Section C (Non-Instructional Duties) will be maintained. At this point, I cannot guarantee course releases anywhere in the division, because budget created by having faculty across both academic divisions on full teaching loads will be pooled and then allocated where need is greatest. That might mean work accommodated via course releases in the past might need to be accommodated by a reduction in non-instructional duties in 2020-21. The only new element in this is, arguably, that I have less discretion to agree to course releases than in the past.

Academic Support Unit

A proposal to combine several units into one super-unit focused on student academic support was approved by the Board of Governors recently (the student advising process mentioned above will be centred in this new unit). This will mean the Academic Support Centre will move to the new unit and out of the School of Academic and Skill Development. ASD will continue to provide adult basic education and university preparation curriculum.

Thank you, Erica!

Erica Bourdon’s term as chair of ASD will end later this month, and she’ll be moving to the new academic support unit along with the Academic Support Centre. It has been a pleasure working with Erica since ASD came into the Applied Arts family a few years ago. She is a passionate voice for ABE-level and university prep programming; for high-quality, holistic student support; and for French-language curriculum (indeed, this past year she literally became a citizen of France!). Thankfully, this is only a partial goodbye. As the new unit takes shape, we’ll all still be able to work with Erica and the great team she has helped build around the Academic Support Centre. Pursuant to Erica’s move out of the chair, ASD role, a posting for a .5 FTE chair of ASD position will be going out shortly.

I think that’s enough text for today. There are other items to pass along, but I’ll aim to send those out in another blog posting this Friday. As always, feel free to get in touch with question you might have. You can email them, connect via Teams during my “virtual water cooler” times on Fridays, 9-10 am, or request a meeting via Carolyn Kauth.

Take care,

Andrew