Dean's Update - September 2020

Hi Applied Arts,

Well this has been an interesting week, hasn’t it. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns, or just thoughts to share, in response to the unexpected departure of Mike DeGagne. While his resignation is a setback for the organization, we need to stay focused on our main priority—the students who have chosen to study with us despite all the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Winter 2021

It feels like we’re only just out of the gate with the fall 2020 term, but we need to start looking to winter 2021. Discussions of course creates and adjustments to the online registration process have begun. We’re aiming for a smoother process overall for winter, but it will take a lot of communication. Please note:

  1. The plan for the winter term is to continue delivering courses and programs through a blend of online modes (e.g., a percentage via Zoom + a percentage via Moodle) as much as possible.
  2. Health labs, science labs, and trades shops, as well as practicum components, will continue to be in-person.
  3. Janet has asked Ernie and I to compile and assess requests for in-person delivery beyond these experiential components. If you believe a winter term course you teach includes a component that cannot be delivered via a combination of Zoom and Moodle, or fully online via just Moodle, please send me your request and supporting rationale by the end of the business day on Sept. 25. I will assess these requests on a case-by-case basis and try to be as consistent as I can with my decision.

Winter 2021 Zoom classroom bookings

We will have the same five Zoom rooms available for winter term course delivery. If you know you will require a Zoom classroom to “broadcast” from, please make this known to your admin assistant and chair no later than Sept. 30.

Faculty Evaluation

Last year, I led a consultation process on the subject of faculty evaluation, with stops along the way at faculty development and peer review. With help from Transitional Faculty Council a tentative process was worked out by the end of the academic year, but it did not gain support from Senior Executive Committee—and then COVID sidetracked the initiative. Despite those bumps, we need to get back to it. Ernie and I will be working to have a process in place this year. At this point, this is just a heads up that more is to come.

Revising Student Course Evaluations

In light of the fact that we are operating in a markedly different course/program delivery mode this year, the COVID-19 Academic Response Team (CART) has sparked a discussion of our student course evaluations. The conversation only got going this week, but the tentative plan is to (1) develop a set of questions, appropriate to an online delivery context, that can be distributed to students via Moodle sites around midterm and (2) revise our current student course evaluation instrument to be more appropriate to our present circumstances. Although our usual practice is to send out midterm evaluations only for new courses or courses taught by new instructors, I’m encouraging all faculty who are teaching courses in a new mode this fall to consider surveying their students at midterm on the quality of their experience of course delivery via Zoom and Moodle.

Faculties and Faculty Councils

For the past year, a small group of faculty have been meeting with me to discuss faculty councils and sort of pretend to be a faculty council. The time has come to move more swiftly to the real thing. Our Senate and Board of Governors now share power in a bicameral system of governance, and Senate is quickly rolling out its various subcommittees. With those pieces in place, the time is right to complete another key step in the development of a university governance model—forming faculty councils. The trick is that we need faculties first. According to the Yukon University Act, the Board of Governors establishes faculties. In the nearest term, a recommendation for what faculties should look like, at least initially, will be put forward by the Transitional Faculty Council, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I want to thank all the members of TFC from the past year for their hard work, wisdom, and good humour—even after the pandemic set in: Erica Bourdon, Amanda Graham, Catherine Bradbury, Rodney Hulstein, Ernie Prokopchuk, Annie-Claude Letendre, Janna van Kessel, Doug McCrae, Drew Lyness, Jordan Aslett, Colleen Grandy, Hillarie Zimmermann, and Kim Diamond.

Planning for the worst

As long as there is a pandemic going on, I’ll keep reiterating that the situation with COVID could worsen to the point where we are ordered off campus again. It is, then, crucial for everyone to have a Plan B (or even C) when it comes to course delivery and how you will continue to communicate/engage with students if that happens.

Have a great weekend everyone. As always, feel free to get in touch with questions 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.

Take care,

Andrew