Provost McCarthy's Communications 

Provost McCarthy's Communications 

Announcing the Interim Dean of the College of Natural Sciences - May 12, 2022

MEMORANDUM

To:        Deans
From:    John McCarthy, Provost, and Tricia Serio, Provost-Elect
Date:     May 12, 2022
Re:        Announcing the Interim Dean of the College of Natural Sciences


We are pleased to announce the appointment of Nathaniel Whitaker, head and professor of mathematics and statistics, as the interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences. He will start on July 18.  

Whitaker is an applied mathematician, with wide research interests that span fluid mechanics, mathematical biology, and numerical analysis.  Whitaker’s contributions in fluid mechanics include numerical solutions for multiphase flow of Hele-Shaw equations. His work in mathematical biology includes modeling the growth of vascular networks associated with tumors, and modeling the processing of sodium in the kidney. He has also contributed to the study of two-dimensional turbulence and nonlinear Schrödinger equations using methods from statistical mechanics. 

Whitaker has served as head of the department of mathematics and statistics since 2018.  Over his career, he has demonstrated a significant commitment to diversity and community service. For example, for nine years, Whitaker was part of the Amherst school system’s AIMS program, teaching accelerated math to African American students, and more recently he has been part of the program providing college courses to incarcerated students in the Hampshire County House of Corrections. 

Whitaker earned his B.A. in 1974 from the Hampton Institute. He received his M.S. in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati in 1981, and he received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1987. He has been a member of the UMass Amherst faculty ever since. 

In accordance with Faculty Senate processes, Interim Dean Whitaker was selected after receiving recommendations from the College Personnel Committee and others. We are immensely pleased that he has agreed to accept this critically important position. 

A national decanal search will commence in the Fall.  

Please join us in welcoming Interim Dean Whitaker.  

 

Announcement of MSP Collective Bargaining Agreement - May 9, 2022

May 9, 2022

 

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that President Meehan recently approved the collective bargaining agreement that was reached between the campus administration and the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP). The agreement covers the period beginning July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023.

Although the negotiations took a long time to complete, the new agreement ultimately reflects a collaborative and solution-oriented process between the administration and the MSP.  I want to acknowledge publicly the excellent work of the bargaining teams in reaching this new agreement while simultaneously addressing countless employment-related impacts associated with our ever-evolving response to the pandemic. Among other things, the new agreement confirms our collective commitment to educational excellence, competitive wages and working conditions, and equitable treatment of faculty and librarians.  We are particularly enthusiastic about the collective commitments we have made to advance diversity, equity and inclusion through professional development programming, a renewed emphasis on Title IX enforcement and response, more holistic evaluations of teaching, improved annual reviews and activity reporting, and workload guidelines at the departmental level that will emphasize equity. 

All provisions with the exception of the across-the-board salary increases, are now fully operational. The across-the-board increases will not become effective until a supplemental appropriation is approved by the state legislature, but they will be fully retroactive.  

Implementation of the new and changed provisions is currently underway in consultation with the Department of Human Resources and other campus partners. I encourage you to review the agreement as well as the summary of key changes currently on the Provost’s website for more information.

Any questions about the collective bargaining agreement should be addressed to Academic Personnel at Academic.Personnel@umass.edu. 

Thank you.

John McCarthy
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor 

A Message from Provost McCarthy - Supporting our Black students - May 5, 2022

May 5, 2022


Dear Colleagues,

As you saw from the Chancellor’s message, an anonymous email containing anti-Black racist statements was sent to several Black students and a campus office on May 3rd. I reiterate the Chancellor’s condemnation of this hate-filled, slanderous, and repulsive attack on our Black students and community members in the strongest possible terms. This latest attempt to disparage the numerous accomplishments and talents of our Black students is a further call for us to come together as faculty and staff to support them. 

As students prepare for final exams, it is important for us to keep in mind how hurtful these events are and to stand ready to provide support. If you are approached by a student who wishes to discuss the impact this incident has had on them in completing their remaining work in your course, please be compassionate about their experience and provide appropriate support to assist them in this time of need. 

Thank you for all that you do for our students.


John McCarthy
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor

 

Provost's Annual AFR Announcement - May 5, 2022

May 5, 2022


Dear Colleagues:

If you are a faculty member with an appointment at 50% FTE or greater, you must complete the Annual Faculty Report and Evaluation (AFR) and submit it through the online Academic Personnel Workflow System (APWS). Your AFR for AY 21-22 activities will be due on or before October 14, 2022, so you have ample time to submit it. Faculty with appointments at less than 50% are not required to submit an AFR. Nonetheless, departments should institute some means of evaluating the performance of those faculty who are not required to submit an AFR whether it be the AFR or some other instrument of the department’s choice.

The AFR provides the official record on which many faculty personnel decisions are based, and it is vital to faculty development, both as an opportunity for self-reflection and as a basis for discussion among departmental and other colleagues. In the AFR, faculty must document their teaching, student advising, research and creative activities, and service -- as appropriate to their appointment. We also want to encourage faculty to list any faculty mentoring they provided, including peer mentoring, in the service portion of the AFR.

The University and MSP are in the process of implementing bargained improvements to the AFR form (and the ALR form for librarians) and annual evaluation process.  As such, positive changes to the process are anticipated for upcoming review cycles. In the interim, however, the formerly collectively bargained review process will continue.   

Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, many faculty across the University have continued to experience a significant disruption to their work. As a result of the health crisis, many faculty continued to experience limited access to research facilities, field sites, study populations, exhibition and performance venues, and more. In recognition of these exceptional conditions, we again invite you to include an optional Pandemic Impact Statement with your AFR describing challenges to your research, teaching, and service obligations, the adjustments you have made, and your contributions to the University’s response to the pandemic. A section has been added under the Additional Activities portion of the online AFR form for this purpose. The UMass ADVANCE team has prepared a pandemic impact statement tool to aid faculty in documenting the scope of impacts on their work.

Faculty, particularly those newer to UMass, should consult with their department chair or head and DPC chair to clarify departmental expectations regarding what should be documented on their AFRs. In addition, having a colleague review a draft of your AFR before submitting it can be very helpful.

AFR deadlines:

  • Faculty submit completed AFR in APWS by October 14, 2022
  • Department head/chair uploads job descriptions for NTT faculty only by October 28, 2022
  • DPC adds its review to each AFR and advances all AFRs to the department chair/head by December 16, 2022
  • Chair/head completes reviews of all AFRs in APWS by January 13, 2023
  • Faculty member responds to DPC and chair/head reviews or releases the AFR without response by January 27, 2023.

Questions:

Please contact academic.personnel@umass.edu.

 

Thank you.

John McCarthy (he/him)
Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished University Professor



 

Provost's Annual Promotion and Tenure Memo | April 2022 - April 27, 2022

MEMORANDUM 

TO: Deans, Directors, Department Heads/Chairs, Department and School/College Personnel Committee Chairs, and Faculty

FROM: John McCarthy, Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor

DATE: April 27, 2022

SUBJECT: Annual Promotion and Tenure Memo - April 2022


I am writing with the annual update of my Promotion and Tenure Recommendations for Tenure-Stream Faculty memo, with changes highlighted.

For more information and resources related to reappointment, promotion, and tenure, visit the Provost’s Office website, or contact academic.personnel@umass.edu.

Thank you.

Religious Observance | April 2022 - March 28, 2022

March 28, 2022

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

I am writing to remind you that the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will begin in the evening of Friday, April 1, and will end in the evening of Sunday, May 1. Students who observe Ramadan will fast from all food and drink, including water, from dawn until dusk every day. I encourage you to work with any student who would like to request an accommodation based on their religious observance of Ramadan.  For example, one reasonable accommodation would allow them to take their exams earlier in the day, rather than towards the end of a day of fasting, and to be required to take no more than one exam in a day. Students and faculty should work together to reach a reasonable accommodation that fits with their particular situation and abides by the University policy on religious observances, which can be found on page 32 of this document: https://www.umass.edu/registrar/sites/default/files/academicregs.pdf

There are other major days of religious observance during the month of April. Christians will observe Good Friday on April 15 and Easter Sunday on April 17. The Jewish holiday of Passover extends from the evening of Friday, April 15, until the evening of Saturday, April 23. Again, please work with your students who observe these holidays to arrive at reasonable accommodations when needed.

 

John McCarthy

Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

A Message from Provost McCarthy - March 16, 2022

March 16, 2022


Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying our beautiful spring weather. Last week, based on the significant improvement of the public health environment on our campus and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the University lifted its indoor mask requirement for most settings. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight information specific to the in-person teaching taking place on campus.

Mask Welcome Campus:

With this recent transition in lifting the mask requirements, we will have campus community members who choose to continue wearing their masks. We are encouraging everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask and participate in weekly testing, and anyone else can choose to wear a mask and participate in our voluntary testing program. Individuals and departments cannot create mask requirements separate from or more restrictive than university requirements, nor should they attempt to influence mask wearing through signage.

Faculty/Instructor Accommodation Requests:

Faculty and graduate student instructors can seek reasonable accommodations by contacting Disability Services (graduate student instructors) and Accessible Workplace Office (for faculty and librarians). The University will consider requests for reasonable accommodations if the faculty member provides documentation from a health care provider that they, or a member of their household, has a medical condition that places them at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Requests for accommodation due to the medical condition of a household member must also demonstrate that the household member is not attending school, daycare or otherwise being exposed to congregate settings.

Student Accommodation Requests:

Undergraduate and graduate students may also seek reasonable accommodations in their classes for their own medical conditions with appropriate medical documentation by contacting Disability Services. Faculty/instructors will be informed if a student in their class has been approved for an accommodation. Disability Services will work with the faculty/instructor on an appropriate accommodation for that student.

Please share this information with any teaching assistants helping you with a class or overseeing their own discussion/lab section of a course.

I wish you all a wonderful Spring and conclusion to the semester.

John McCarthy
Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished University Professor

 

 

 

Provost's Message to All Instructors March 9, 2022

MEMORANDUM 

 

Date: March 9, 2022

To: All Instructors 

From: Provost John McCarthy

RE: Accommodations 

 

As yesterday’s message from the Public Health Promotion Center said, “Individuals may seek reasonable accommodations for their own documented health conditions by contacting Disability Services (for students) and Accessible Workplace Office (for staff & faculty).” Instructors who intend to seek such an accommodation but cannot do so before spring break can move their courses remote for the remainder of this week.

An Announcement - January 20, 2022

January 20, 2022

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

At the end of this semester, I will have completed five years as Provost and a total of 10 years in upper academic administration.  I was appointed Provost for a term of five years, and I have decided not to seek reappointment. My term will end on June 30, 2022. The Chancellor will endeavor to name a new provost as soon as possible, and I will work closely with that person to facilitate as smooth a transition as possible.

In my years as Provost and as Graduate Dean before that, I have tried always to be guided by my moral compass, particularly by the belief that we are called as educators to help all of the members of our university community to realize their full human potential. I have tried, as well as I am able, to lead in a spirit of kindness, empathy, and transparency. Before moving into administration, I was very successful in my scholarship, and I have done what I can to support and honor others’ successes. I brought to the role of Provost a long career as a member of the UMass Amherst faculty, and I kept that in mind as I dealt with the challenges that have faced us, especially during the last 22 months. I have not always been able to live up to my ideals, but you can be sure that I am my own harshest critic.

Here are some of our collective achievements during my time as Provost:

Students

  • Instruction. In the 2020-2021 academic year, we provided our students with nearly three quarters of a million student credit hours of instruction. Despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic, this number is only one-tenth of one percent less than in the previous year, and it is 2.5% more than the year before that. It took the efforts of the entire campus, both staff and faculty, to pull this off. I am supremely grateful to every one of for what you did to provide our students with as normal an experience as possible under the circumstances.
  • Performance. Despite the pandemic, our students have continued to perform superbly on key metrics: the first-to-second year retention rate for the cohort entering in Fall 2020 is 91%, the same as pre-pandemic. the most recent 4-year graduation rate is 76%, down only one point from the pre-pandemic peak.  The 6-year graduation rate is 84%, continuing a multi-year trend of improvement.
  • Academic Programs. In my time as Provost, we have launched degree programs in Biomedical Engineering, Veterinary Technology, Public Policy, Finance, Informatics, Data Analytics & Computational Social Science, Materials Science & Engineering, Managerial Economics, and Interdisciplinary Studies. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Students. The Fall 2021 entering class is the most diverse ever: 37% are ALANA (African American/Black, Latinx, Asian, Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander, and Native American), and 19% are from historically underrepresented groups (African American/Black, Latinx, Hawai’ian/Pacific Islander, and Native American). (These percentages and those cited in the next bullet were calculated using the standard methodology, which excludes non-US nationals from the denominator.)
  • Faculty. Over the past four academic years, 22.1% of the newly hired tenure-system faculty are from those same historically underrepresented groups. In the previous four years, the fraction was only 5.9%. As a result of this hiring record and aggressive, creative efforts at retention, the number of tenure-system faculty from the historically underrepresented groups has increased from 95 to 110 over the same period.
  • Deans. Three of the deans entered their positions at the same time when I became Provost and the other nine were recruited by me, so it can be said that I on-boarded all the current deans. The deanery is now more diverse in gender and race/ethnicity than it has ever been: ten of the twelve deans are women and five are persons of color.

Faculty

  • Pandemic accommodations. Through an unprecedented collaboration among Academic Personnel, the Office of Faculty Development, the MSP, and the ADVANCE grant, our campus put into place policies and practices that have made us a national model of support for faculty during the pandemic.
  • Support for remote instruction. An equally unprecedented collaboration among the Center for Teaching & Learning, the Instructional Design, Engagement, & Support (IDEAS) group, the Libraries, and IT supported faculty throughout the transition to remote instruction and beyond.
  • Innovations in faculty support.
    - A more expansive view of the criteria for promotion to full professor.
    - A careful analysis of data from the COACHE survey of faculty job satisfaction.
    - Nominations of faculty for honorific awards.
    - Professional improvement leaves for lecturers (negotiated with MSP).
    - Reinstitution of the spouse/partner hiring program under a sustainable budget model.
    - Creation of the offices of Faculty Development and the Associate Provost for Equity & Inclusion
    - Leadership development through the selection of Chancellor’s Leadership Fellows and participants in the HERS Institutes. 

Other units in Academic Affairs

  • IPO. Our International Programs Office very ably supported our international students, faculty, and staff throughout the years of nativist policies and edicts coming from Washington
  • FAC. Even as our faculty and staff pivoted to remote work, the Fine Arts Center deftly pivoted to virtual events that helped bolster our spirits during a very difficult time, starting with a virtual dance party hosted by Questlove on May 7, 2020.
  • UWW. The former Division of Continuing & Professional Education became the University Without Walls, reporting directly to the Provost.
  • Academic labor relations. My office has responsibility for contract bargaining and administration with three unions, representing faculty, graduate assistants, and post-doctoral researchers. In my time as Provost, we have negotiated two contracts with MSP – a regular three-year contract running through June 2020 and a one-year extension running through June 2021 --- and we continue at the bargaining table working toward a successor contract. We negotiated a successor contract with the postdoc union PRO-UAW running through March 2022, and we are back at the table with GEO-UAW negotiating their successor contract.

Later in the semester, I plan to send a message thanking by name the many contributors to the achievements listed above. I also hope to update you on my plans, which are as yet unformed. You cannot work at a place for more than half your life without being changed by it, so whatever happens next, I will always have a big piece of this University with me.

Thank you,

John McCarthy
Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished University Professor

A Message from the Provost - Spring 2022 Semester

January 19, 2022

 

Dear Colleagues,

I write to you once again to convey my gratitude for all that you have done to support and educate our students under difficult conditions. Yesterday, the Chancellor sent out a message to the campus community on preparations for the Spring semester. I am taking this opportunity to highlight information specific to the in-person teaching taking place on our campus. 

Face Coverings in the Classroom:
In addition to our testing protocols and mandatory vaccination, the use of masks has been essential in reducing the spread of SARS-CoV2 in our instructional, research, and work places. Peer institutions that experienced a surge of the omicron variant before the winter break reported no evidence of transmission in classrooms where masks were mandated.  We are continuing the policy of face coverings being required in all campus buildings regardless of vaccination status.  We strongly urge you to use a high-grade mask, such as KN95, KF94, or N95, or to double-mask.  As this is new guidance, we may need to remind ourselves about the importance of wearing these high-quality masks.  I ask instructors in the classroom to assist in educating students on appropriate face coverings and to remind them that if they are wearing only a cloth mask that they should double-mask, with a surgical mask under the cloth mask, or switch to a high-grade mask.  A few students may need a reminder that the mask should cover both the nose and the mouth.

If a student refuses to wear a mask and does not comply after you have reminded them, you should ask them to leave the classroom.  You are asked to submit a referral to the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office (SCCS) in the Dean of Students Office (Incident Reporting: Student Conduct Referral tab on the right hand side of page).  The SCCS will follow up with the student as appropriate and according to policies outlined in the Classroom Civility and Respect policy as well as the Code of Student Conduct.

Attendance:
Based on the trends seen elsewhere with the omicron variant, we do anticipate there will be a significant number of cases among our campus community in the early weeks of the semester.  As occurred in the Fall semester, instructors will be impacted by students who are in isolation based on a positive test or who are encouraged not to attend class because they are feeling ill.  Any assistance you can provide for these students to continue progress within the class or for alternative accommodations to make up the missed work will be greatly appreciated.

Instructional Support: 
Faculty should plan ahead in case they are unable to meet in person with their class because they themselves are in isolation, and they should consider flexible options to accommodate student absences associated with the COVID pandemic. 

A faculty member who is unable to be on campus for their scheduled in-person class should:

  • Contact their department head and notify their students as soon as possible about changes in scheduled class meetings either through Moodle or Blackboard or by emailing students through SPIRE.
  • Short-term teaching options for remote faculty including holding the class onliine through Zoom, providing asynchronous online material (for example, pre-recorded videos, additional readings, and class lecture notes) and assignments through Moodle or Blackboard, or if available, asking a colleague or teaching assistant to cover the class.

Flexible options to support students unable to attend class will depend on the classroom technology available and the instructional practices typical of the specific course 

  • Faculty teaching in Echo equipped classrooms are able to provide both synchronous (live stream) and lecture capture access to class sessions; many classrooms are also equipped with hybrid kits that facilitate both synchronous live stream access, with or without student interaction, as well as lecture capture through Zoom.
  • Faculty teaching in classrooms with standard audiovisual technology can record their class sessions using PowerPoint or Zoom.

Follow this link for more resources and strategies for teaching to remote students in traditional classrooms. The Instructional Design, Engagement and Support (IDEAS) team can provide assistance with instructional technology. The Center for Teaching and Learning can consult on flexible teaching practices. 

Add/Drop Period of Time:
With the anticipation of students testing positive and needing to isolate at the beginning of the semester, the Faculty Senate Rules Committee has approved amending the Add/Drop period for courses to be a two-week time period instead of the one-week time period for undergraduate students.  The Add/Drop deadline for undergraduate students will now be extended to Monday, February 7th.  The Add/Drop deadline for graduate students will remain at Monday, February 7th. 

Five College Courses:
The campuses of the Five Colleges are implementing different start times and instructional approaches to the start of the Spring semester: Hampshire College and UMA are in-person, Mount Holyoke and Smith College are starting remote the first two weeks but are informing their students wanting to take Five College courses to move-in earlier to accommodate in-person instruction, and Amherst College is delaying the start of their semester to Feb. 7th and starting the first week remotely.  All campuses, though, have agreed that students enrolled in classes on one of the other campuses will abide by that campus’ policies.  All Five College students wanting to take a UMass Amherst course are to attend the course in-person starting the first day of the semester unless they have tested positive and need to isolate or are ill and unable to attend class.  The PVTA busses will be operating under a normal schedule.

Classroom/Building Concerns or Questions:
Please call the Facilities Solutions Center at 413-545-6401 if you have any concerns or questions regarding building or classroom issues.  

Addressing K-12 Closures:
We all have an interest in preserving students’ in-class experience as much as possible; but we can certainly understand that situations may occur that will require flexibility as we navigate this next phase of the pandemic.  For those instructors who are parents of young children, there may be periods of closure for childcare or movement to remote learning of K-12 schools.  I ask that instructors work with their department on potential solutions during these times; e.g., it is reasonable to ask a TA or colleague to cover a class, temporarily move a few class meetings online, or to find another solution that works for your class.

Please share this information with any teaching assistants and associates helping you with a class or overseeing their own discussion/lab section of a course.  

Conclusion:
Again, thank you for all that you have done and are still doing to give our students as normal a college experience as possible. It is my very great privilege to work with colleagues like you.


John McCarthy
Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished University Professor

Requests for Spring 2022 Medical Accommodations – December 3rd Deadline - November 12, 2021

TO: All Faculty, Graduate Student Instructors, Deans, Department Chairs/Heads, and GPDs

FROM: John McCarthy, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

DATE: November 12, 2021

SUBJECT: Requests for Spring 2022 Medical Accommodations – December 3rd Deadline

_________________________________________________________________________


Dear Colleagues,

I am grateful to each and every one of you for the part you played in helping to keep our campus safe and healthy throughout this past semester. Our return to face-to-face instruction was successful in large part by your individual action such as getting vaccinated, wearing a face mask, and complying with public health protocols. Data from the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) reflects a consistently low rate of positive cases on our campus and that no instructors have tested positive as the result of classroom exposure. 

We continue to expect that students will have in-person classes for the vast majority of their courses.  Accommodations for remote teaching that were approved for the Fall 2021 semester will expire.  Any new or continued accommodations will require an application for the Spring 2022 semester following the same process that was employed for the Fall semester. With increased vaccinations, booster shots, low positivity rates, and vaccination availability for some children under 12, the needs for pandemic-related accommodations have diminished. 

Requests for Medical Accommodations - December 3, 2021 Deadline

Faculty and graduate student employees seeking an accommodation for their own medical condition should complete the request form here. Faculty requests will be evaluated by the Accessible Workplace office in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.  Graduate employee requests will be evaluated by Disability Services. These offices will collect necessary medical documentation, engage the requesting party in an interactive dialogue, and consult with the relevant department and/or college about the request.  Decisions regarding medical accommodations will be examined in light of the underlying medical condition and the availability of reasonable accommodations. Accommodations for instructors who have household members who are at high risk of severe illness related to Covid-19 will require evidence that the household member is not attending school, daycare or otherwise being exposed to congregate settings. 

Requests for accommodations must be submitted by December 3, 2021. Absent a substantial change in individual circumstances or public health conditions, no late applications will be accepted.  This deadline is critical to ensure that all requests receive sufficient attention and to allow for responsibilities to be shifted if necessary and coverage arranged to ensure a robust on-campus learning experience for our students.

We continue to be encouraged by the downward trend in the positivity rate of Covid-19 as well as the high vaccination rate on campus. As previously stated, if you were previously approved for an accommodation for the Fall 2021 semester your accommodation will expire. You must complete an application for an accommodation by the December 3, 2021 deadline so that it can be evaluated for the Spring 2022 semester.

Options for Teaching a Course if Approved for a Medical Accommodation

Faculty members and graduate teaching associates who are approved for a medical accommodation that permits remote teaching should consult with their department about course delivery. Options available include but are not limited to:
 

  • Broadcasting lectures synchronously into the classroom assigned to the course while students attend the class in person
  • Teaching a synchronous online lecture with in-person discussion sections handled by TAs (if applicable)
  • Fully synchronous online lectures
  • Recorded lectures asynchronous with other synchronous activity planned for the students. 

As always, faculty and graduate student instructors can work with the Center for Teaching and Learning and the IDEAS (Instructional Design, Engagement, and Support) group for further assistance on instructional modality options.

Questions regarding the accommodation process can be directed to accessibleworkplace@umass.edu

Please care for your health and safety as we continue to provide our students the world-class residential and educational experience they’ve come to expect at UMass-Amherst.

Excused Absence for Black Healing Event on Tuesday, Oct. 5 - October 4th, 2021

 
October 4, 2021

 

Dear Colleagues,

Some of your students may be attending an event being held tomorrow, Tuesday, 5:30-7:30PM: Black Joy, Black Healing, & Black Justice: A forum of community, love, and kinship for Black students. At this moment when so many of our students are experiencing racial trauma as a result of recent events on our campus, if your class meets during that time, I urge you to notify them that absences to attend that event will be excused and, if necessary, make-up work will be accepted.

Thank you for considering this accommodation.

Sincerely,

John McCarthy
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
Distinguished Professor

 

A Message from the Provost: FY22 planning and budget process in Academic Affairs - October 4, 2021

October 4, 2021


Dear Colleagues,

In keeping with the tradition of increased transparency in our budgeting process, I am happy to report on the outcomes of the FY22 planning and budget process in Academic Affairs and its constituent units.

During FY21, the Academic Affairs base budget was cut by about $12M.  For FY22, approximately $8M of this cut was restored.  The funds were allocated across Academic Affairs in the following broad categories;   

• Permanent faculty hires.

• Temporary instructional hires.

• Staff hires.

• Support for diversity, equity and inclusion activities.

• Support for faculty retention.

• The closing of structural budgetary gaps.

This document describes the disposition of these allocated funds, plus the permanent faculty hires authorized within existing school/college funding. (It does not list hires previously authorized and rolled over because of a failed search or staff positions funded with the unit’s existing base funds.)

I am pleased to acknowledge the efforts of the deans and department heads/chairs in this effort.
 

Sincerely,

John McCarthy
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
Distinguished Professor

Sexual Assault Resources & Reporting Slides - September 27, 2021

September 27, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

In an effort to better communicate the university’s resources for survivors of sexual assault, I am writing to share slides created by the Sexual Assault Support & Advocacy (SASA) Services at the Center for Women and Community. I encourage you to share these slides with colleagues, staff, and students. 

These slides provide important information on the services available to support anyone impacted by sexual violence, including counseling, medical advocacy to support survivors, support groups for survivors and people impacted by violence and trauma, and advocates who can support survivors with reporting and interactions with police, court, and college conduct processes.

To access the slides, click here

The SASA slides contain important contact information, repeated below:

To report a sexual assault:

For confidential information:

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

John McCarthy
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
Distinguished Professor

A Message from the Provost and the Massachusetts Society of Professors - August 31, 2021

August 31, 2021

A Message from the Provost and the Massachusetts Society of Professors

Dear faculty and librarians,

The MSP and the administration had a productive meeting yesterday.  The MSP relayed its members’ health and safety concerns, and the administration heard and responded to those concerns with new information and clarifications relating to: masks and student compliance; campus COVID testing; ventilation and air quality; and accommodations for parents of young children.

To summarize: 
- Masks will be made available on campus, with clear instructions for faculty and students.

- The campus is doing several types of COVID testing, including wastewater testing, mandatory testing of unvaccinated individuals, and mandatory testing around student clusters. The data from these tests will indicate whether a return to broader mandatory testing or other measures will be necessary.

- The administration has shared ventilation data for most buildings on campus, has dedicated personnel to maintaining both natural and mechanical ventilation, and has provided a clear channel for inquiries regarding ventilation and air filtration in specific areas of concern.

- The student in-person experience remains a high campus priority. Faculty and librarians may continue to request workplace accommodations under the ADA when they or their household members are at high risk for complications as assessed by a medical provider. Individuals whose work is impacted by illness, quarantine, or school or childcare closures will be supported and accommodated.

More details follow, and we encourage you to contact the MSP (msp@umass.edu) and the Provost’s office (provost@provost.umass.edu) if you have remaining concerns.

1. Masks and student compliance

Three-ply surgical masks will be available in 100 kiosks placed in high-traffic areas around campus, including at entrances to classroom buildings. Academic departments may order masks to have some on hand, including clear masks where needed. (Deans have been informed that costs will be borne centrally.) Faculty and librarians are welcome to take a few masks from the kiosks for students who forget theirs, or request masks from their department whenever they need them.

If students come to class without masks, instructors should follow these steps:
a. Offer the student a mask and ask them nicely to wear it.
b. If the student refuses, ask them to leave the classroom.
c. If the student refuses to leave, end the class and vacate the room.
d. Inform the Dean of Students office of the name of the student who disrupted the class by submitting a referral to the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office (SCCS) (Incident Reporting: Student Conduct Referral tab on the right hand side of page).

Instructors may add the following language to their syllabus:

“For the health and safety of all members of our campus community, students are expected to follow all COVID-related policies on campus. At the start of the Fall 2021 semester, there are two policies in effect that deserve special mention. First, students are required to follow the COVID-19 Daily Self-checklist.  Students who are ill must not attend class, and they will be offered reasonable accommodations for missed work. Second, students must follow the masking policy while it remains in effect. Your instructor will remind you to wear a mask that securely covers your mouth and nose, and direct you to a nearby mask station if you do not have one. If you are unwilling to mask, you will be asked to leave the class. If you do not leave the class, the instructor will end the class, and the Dean of Students office will be informed that you have disrupted class and violated the Guidelines for Classroom Civility and Respect. Anyone with a mask exemption must provide prior written notice to the instructor and must maintain at least six feet of distance from faculty and other students at all times.”

2. COVID testing and contact tracing    

The campus has a robust COVID-19 testing program to monitor infection rates, including:
a. Symptomatic testing is available for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, either at UHS or by using an unobserved test kit and dropping it at a kiosk.
b. Asymptomatic testing continues to be available for the entire Amherst community.
c. Unobserved testing is available with kits that can be picked up and dropped off at multiple locations on campus.
d. Mandatory twice-weekly testing is required for unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty (those who have an approved medical or religious exemption).
e. Wastewater testing is occurring across campus; this is a method of sampling untreated sewage and testing for the presence of COVID-19.  
f. Mandatory adaptive testing will be conducted in buildings or areas where wastewater testing shows increased presence of COVID-19, or where clusters are identified through symptomatic and asymptomatic campus testing.

In collaboration with experts in public health, infectious disease, and epidemiology, UMass experts have modeled the expected trajectory of COVID on campus this fall, and they expect viral load on campus to remain low. Surveillance testing is expected to corroborate this expectation; if infections increase, the campus is prepared to take additional steps to keep community members safe.

A new COVID dashboard will be available shortly, with data on testing results.  In addition, the IALS Clinical Testing Center will analyze the results to understand patterns; they will sequence positive tests to track the Delta variant and identify and track any new variants of concern that may emerge. 

Extensive contact tracing will continue to be in place to identify close contacts of anyone who tests positive, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.  UMass follows Massachusetts Department of Public Health Guidelines, and anyone who tests positive, vaccinated or unvaccinated, must isolate for a full ten days. Close contacts who are vaccinated are asked to wear masks and test regularly; unvaccinated close contacts must go into quarantine for a minimum of seven days. The university has developed this planning guide to help individuals if they must isolate or quarantine. 

3. Ventilation and air quality

The campus continues to follow guidelines and best practices developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to inform HVAC-related measures on campus. UMass is maximizing either mechanical ventilation (in buildings with mechanical HVAC systems) or natural ventilation in buildings with operable windows:

- In buildings with HVAC systems, mechanical units are started two hours prior to occupancy, and air flow rates will be increased to the maximum possible level until two hours after occupancy.  Energy-efficiency systems that normally turn off ventilation during daytime room vacancies have been disabled for instructional buildings.

- Air handlers serving laboratory buildings provide 100 percent outside air. This means that all of the air delivered to the space comes directly from outside and is 100 percent exhausted, with no recirculation. Windows in lab spaces with fume hoods should not be opened because this can interfere with the functioning of the fume hood. Fume hoods provide excellent exhaust for spaces and ensure adequate ventilation without opening windows.

- Many non-lab buildings recirculate a portion of the air from the space and mix it with a portion of outdoor air. In these buildings, the campus optimizes the system to bring in the maximum amount of outdoor air and exhaust it entirely, and to filter any recirculated air.

- HVAC air filtration is rated by Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, known as MERV ratings. UMass is utilizing MERV13 and MERV14 rated filters for all areas where air is recirculated.  Facilities maintenance staff have performed preventive maintenance on all HVAC systems.

- In buildings that use natural ventilation, occupants are encouraged to open  operable windows ¼ to 2 inches while occupying a space. Facilities and building staff will assist with this task in instructional spaces, and upon request in other areas. Natural ventilation is a CDC-approved method of improving ventilation, and good air change has been observed with this method on campus.

- Faculty members and librarians who are concerned about their spaces should reach out to EH&S to determine whether any additional action is required, such as if a HEPA filter is needed for their room; if so, one will be provided.

If you have any health and safety  concerns about specific spaces, please contact EH&S at askehs@umass.edu or at 413-545-2682. To report a ventilation problem in academic and library buildings, or windows that will not open, contact the Facilities Solutions Center at 413-545-6401. Melissa Bergeron, Customer Services Manager in Facilities and Campus Services, is an excellent resource for facilities questions related to your instructional spaces: mbergeron@facil.umass.edu.  You may also contact the MSP if you need assistance. 

4. Accommodations

If you need medical accommodations because of your own health condition or to protect a vulnerable family member -- either now or later in the semester -- you are welcome to consult with the MSP office, or you can apply directly to Accessible Workplace (https://www.umass.edu/humres/workplace-accommodations-staff-and-faculty). 

The university has an interest in preserving students’ in-class experience as much as possible; faculty cannot choose to move an in-person class to a fully remote format.  Accommodations are being addressed on an individual basis. The ADA requires the university to work with faculty members to make sure any accommodations meet their needs as well as students’ needs. 

We all understand that parents of young children have shouldered a unique burden for the past 18 months, and we are committed to supporting your needs as much as possible.  The upcoming school year is full of uncertainty.  There may be periods of closure for childcare programs and K-12 schools as students quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID.  If a faculty member or librarian has an ill child, or a quarantined child, or if schools or childcare close, your department will be as flexible as possible to meet your needs. We encourage you to work with your department as you would in case of illness before COVID; it is reasonable to ask a TA or colleague to cover a class, temporarily move a few class meetings online, or to find another solution that works for your class. More widespread school closures are a systemic problem and will likely require systemic solutions that we will address collectively at that time. We are all committed to working with faculty and staff who have young children at home, to make sure that your work remains flexible enough to meet your family’s needs.  

In closing, we are encouraged by this opportunity to work together on our shared goal of assessing current and potential future COVID-related risks and finding the most effective ways of mitigating those risks. We all agree that the UMass Amherst campus is much safer than most large public university campuses.  Our students, faculty, and staff are more than 95 percent vaccinated and we will wear masks indoors to add an extra layer of protection.  We have our own COVID testing center and vaccination center ready to provide booster shots when authorized by the state.  Data suggest that breakthrough infections are occurring in fewer than one percent of vaccinated individuals.  Still, we will remain vigilant.  We believe that combining all of the tools we have available -- vaccination, masks, ventilation, symptomatic and asymptomatic testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation -- and working together to address any challenges will best protect our community.  We know that you will continue to have questions and concerns, and we will do our best to address them collaboratively throughout the semester.  As always, we appreciate everyone’s dedication to our students and to the university. 

John McCarthy, Provost
Eve Weinbaum, Co-President, MSP
Marc Liberatore, Co-President, MSP

A Message from the Provost about Fall 2021 - August 20, 2021

August 20, 2021

 

Dear Colleagues,

I am deeply grateful to you, our faculty, librarians, graduate assistants, and staff, for all that you do to give our students a high-quality educational experience and to continue to advance scholarship, discovery, innovation, and artistic creation.  

My purpose in this message is to address some of your questions and share important information about the Fall 2021 semester. As we prepare for the Fall semester, some of you may be concerned about the return to campus. I am writing to reassure you of our commitment to your safety and that of all members of our community. Further information about measures taken to ensure health and safety can be found in the UMass Amherst Fall 2021 FAQ.

Vaccinations

Our guidance is based on the scientific and healthcare expertise of our community and official state and Federal guidelines. It is clear from these sources that vaccination is the first and most powerful line of defense against the COVID-19 virus, including the Delta variant. Individuals who are fully vaccinated rarely become infected (e.g., breakthrough infections in MA represent 0.29% of vaccinated individuals), and those rare breakthrough infections don't typically cause severe illness (e.g., 0.01% of vaccinated people in MA have been hospitalized). Because of the effectiveness of the vaccine and our campus community’s high vaccination rates, we are able to open and repopulate the campus. Fall 2021 is not just a continuation of Spring 2021, when the vaccination was not yet available.  All of the additional measures we are taking assist in that protection, but vaccination is the most important step.  

To keep our campus safe, the campus has a mandatory vaccination requirement.  As a campus community, we have risen to the challenge and then some. I am pleased to share with you that currently 98% of our domestic undergraduate and graduate students and 93% of faculty and staff are in compliance with the university’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement. As someone who meets monthly with the provosts of large public universities from around the country, I can assure you that this truly is a remarkable and highly unusual achievement. Many institutions don’t come close to what we have achieved. The extremely high compliance rate for faculty, staff, and students is worth celebrating as a community. We owe our gratitude to our students for helping to keep our campus community safe.  We also celebrate that our labor agreements with faculty and staff unions require vaccination. My sincere thanks to all faculty and staff for doing their part, and to our unions for their collaborative spirit.

We are daily inundated with news and information about the virus. I encourage you to consult the CDC website to follow the evolving understanding of the virus and its variants and to keep track of the latest guidance. Please note, however, that individual units, programs, departments, and instructors should follow University guidelines and public health approaches concerning COVID-19 and should not institute their own rules and requirements.

We must also recognize that there is a small percentage of students and employees who have received religious or medical exemptions from the vaccination requirement. For their own protection as well as the rest of our community, these individuals will be required to wear face masks and to participate in asymptomatic testing. For more information on compliance with unvaccinated testing requirements, visit the UMass Public Health Promotion Center.

Face Coverings

As an additional level of protection for our community, face coverings in indoor public spaces were mandated beginning on Wednesday, August 11. All members of the UMass community (and visitors) are required to wear face coverings indoors. Face coverings must be worn in nearly all indoor public spaces, including classrooms, hallways, elevators, restrooms, breakrooms, entries and exits to buildings, laboratories, meeting rooms, shared offices, and shared work areas. Enforcement will be primarily done by the community as a whole and by modeling good behavior, similar to our successful on-campus tobacco ban.

I also understand there may be questions concerning masking while teaching, in classrooms, labs, and while holding office hours. Below is some guidance that will help answer those questions.

Classrooms

Some faculty members find it difficult to lecture while masked. A vaccinated instructor can choose to go unmasked while teaching if they can maintain at least six feet of distance from where students are sitting in the classroom.  An instructor who chooses not to wear a mask in the classroom should explain why they are doing so, but that students should remain masked.  An instructor may, of course, opt to wear a mask while teaching.  

An instructor may also want to encourage students to speak more loudly when they have a question or are participating in a discussion in order to be heard.  Even in pre-pandemic days, I found it to be a good practice to repeat questions and comments from soft-spoken students, particularly those sitting in the front rows.

The Center for Teaching and Learning is ready to provide guidance to faculty and instructors on how discussions can be handled in classrooms while students (and instructors) are masked.  CTL is also available to assist instructors with planning ways to complement the curriculum delivery for student absences or other reasons. The Instructional Design, Engagement & Support/Instructional Media Lab group provides assistance with instructional technology, utilization of Echo 360, and usage of the Zoom, Moodle, and Blackboard platforms.

Public and private indoor spaces

My office has received questions concerning what is considered a public space. Conference rooms are an example of public indoor space where masks should be worn. We want to model good behavior for students while the face covering mandate is in place.  However, one-person offices are considered private indoor space. Faculty can require students and visitors to wear face coverings during office hours, for example. As long as neighbors don’t object, faculty members can leave their doors open to keep air flowing and put up a sign outside the door letting visitors know their masking preference. Masks should also be worn in research labs when more than one person is present. I encourage everyone to be patient and respect the face covering wishes of their colleagues in their private spaces.

All offices and classrooms have been cleaned in preparation for the return of staff and students. As always, if you experience any building or instructional space issues that require assistance, such as issues related to temperature, access, custodial services and instructional space furniture, please call the Solutions Center at 413-545-6401.  For more information on facilities and custodial services, please visit this FAQ

Testing

Twice weekly testing of students and once weekly testing of faculty and staff is required for those with approved COVID-19 medical or religious exemption. Vaccinated faculty, staff, and students can get tested for free at their discretion. During the Fall semester, self-testing using kits and drop boxes will be available.  For more information, please visit UMass Public Health Promotion Center.

If a student in your classroom/lab/studio tests positive for COVID-19, the student will be told to reach out to you and their other instructors to inform them of this positive test and to make accommodations for missed class time, as they will need to isolate for ten days since the time of exposure. It is extremely important that you treat any private health information you may directly or indirectly receive in a confidential manner and not share information on a student testing positive in your class. If you are notified of a positive test in your class/lab/studio, you do not need to take any action.

Accommodations

Accommodations can be made on a case-by-case basis through Accessible Workplace. Accommodation requests require medical documentation.  

Interim Pandemic Policy for Students

All the students enrolled in your course have received the Interim Pandemic Policy for students.  Should a student violate the public health protocols within your classroom, lab or studio, we ask that you first talk to the student and remind them of the importance of complying with these protocols. Students will make mistakes and sometimes these mistakes are unintentional. A simple reminder can help put them back on the right track right away.

Should a student demonstrate repeated violations of the public health protocols after you have reminded them of the importance of complying, you are asked to submit a referral to the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office (SCCS) in the Dean of Students Office (Incident Reporting: Student Conduct Referral tab on right hand side of page). The SCCS will send the student a Behavioral Notice reiterating the expectations for student behavior, reinforcing the importance of these expectations, describing the possible consequences of subsequent incidents, and offering to answer the student’s questions. If behavior is persistent and/or egregious, the student’s behavior will be evaluated in relation to the policies outlined in the Code of Student Conduct.


In closing, I want to remind you that we are working on this together as a campus community. As we approach the Fall semester, we should pause and remember that Fall 2021 is not Spring 2021. We trust and listen to the science. We have vaccinations to help protect us against the virus and other supportive mitigation tools – washing hands, social distancing, and face coverings, for example. Moreover, we must not forget the mental health and well-being of our students and community. We know that many members of the campus community struggled with mental health issues and were impacted by the isolation and the stress of managing through the pandemic. Let’s support each other and practice patience and understanding for others and ourselves.

I remain optimistic for the future and deeply grateful for our university community which I joined 36 years ago.

Thank you for all that you do.


Sincerely,


John McCarthy
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. 




 

 

A Message from Provost McCarthy: Annual Promotion and Tenure Memo - June 21, 2021

MEMORANDUM 

TO: Deans, Directors, Department Heads/Chairs, Department and School/College Personnel Committee Chairs, and Faculty

FROM: John McCarthy, Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor

DATE: June 21, 2021

SUBJECT: Annual Promotion and Tenure Memo - June 2021


I am writing with the annual update of my Promotion and Tenure Recommendations for Tenure-Stream Faculty memo, with changes highlighted.

For more information and resources related to reappointment, promotion, and tenure, visit the Provost’s Office website, or contact academic.personnel@umass.edu.

Requests for Medical Accommodations – June 21st Deadline - A Message from the Provost

MEMORANDUM 

TO: All faculty, graduate student employees, Deans, Department Chairs/Heads, and GPDs

FROM: John McCarthy, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

DATE: May 25, 2021

SUBJECT: Requests for Medical Accommodations – June 21st Deadline


Dear Colleagues,

As another semester concludes, I want to again thank you for your resilience, flexibility, and excellence over the course of this last year. As you know, the campus has committed to a return to face-to-face instruction and on-campus living for our students with a goal of having Fall 2021 be as close to pre-pandemic times as possible. We expect all our faculty and graduate student employees to return to campus to provide our students the world-class residential experience they’ve come to expect. In anticipation of the Fall 2021 semester, I am sending along information about how faculty and graduate student employees may request an accommodation in the rare circumstance where instructors require modification to their responsibilities and/or method of work.

Requests for Medical Accommodations - June 21, 2021 Deadline

Faculty and graduate student employees with certain current and ongoing medical conditions that could limit or delay them from returning to onsite work may seek an accommodation by completing the application found here. Faculty requests will be evaluated by the Accessible Workplace office in the Department of Human Resources.  Graduate employee requests will be evaluated by Disability Services. These offices will collect necessary medical documentation and consult with the relevant department and/or college about the request.

Requests for accommodations must be submitted by June 21, 2021. This deadline is critical to ensure that all requests receive sufficient attention and to allow for responsibilities to be shifted if necessary and coverage arranged to ensure a robust on-campus learning experience for our students. Of course, this deadline does not apply to employees who develop a medical condition after June 21, 2021.

Finally, all members of the campus community are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The campus has its very own Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic to assist with this effort. Further, individuals who choose not to receive a vaccine due to religious beliefs should contact HR at COVID19HR@umass.edu to discuss their return to campus.

Questions can be directed to COVID19HR@umass.edu

Please continue to care for your health and safety over the summer as we prepare for a return for normal campus operations while ensuring the health and well-being of our campus community. 

 

 

A Message from the Provost: Wellness Wednesday & Ramadan - April 5, 2021

April 5, 2021

 

Dear Colleagues, 

I am writing to you about the upcoming “Wellness Wednesday” on April 14. As you know, the academic calendar for this semester eliminates spring break and the Monday holidays. These temporary changes were made for public health reasons: to discourage students from traveling to their homes or other areas with higher positivity rates.  

Because students have been working flat out since February 1, this semester’s calendar includes two Wellness Wednesdays to give them a mid-week break. To make it a real break, I ask you not to give homework over the upcoming Wellness Wednesday on April 14. All of us are aware of the pressures students are under and their feeling of being burned out as we come to the end of the toughest academic year any of us have experienced.  Please give them the small joy of a day with nothing to do. 

I also want to remind you that the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on Monday, April 12, and continues until May 11 or 12. Students who observe Ramadan will fast from all food and drink, including water, from dawn until dusk every day. I encourage you to work with any student who would like to request an accommodation based on their religious observance of Ramadan.  For example, one reasonable accommodation would allow them to take their exams earlier in the day, rather than towards the end of a day of fasting, and to be required to take no more than one exam in a day. Students and faculty should work together to reach a reasonable accommodation that fits with their particular situation and abides by the University policy on religious observances, which can be found in this document.

I will conclude by expressing once again my gratitude and admiration for all that our faculty and staff have done to sustain our mission through this most difficult time.  

 

John McCarthy 

Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs 

Message from the Provost (Student Compliance with Testing Protocol) - March 1, 2021

March 1, 2021

 

Dear Colleagues, 

As we begin the second month of the Spring 2021 semester, please know that you have my gratitude and the gratitude of the Chancellor, the Deans, and others for all of the effort that you have put into educating and supporting our students under challenging conditions. Know too that the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff have been and remain our primary focus.  

Since the announcement of a change in operational posture from High Risk to Elevated Risk on February 19th, we have received questions from faculty regarding processes in place to ensure students’ compliance with our testing protocol.  Undergraduate and graduate students need to be tested twice a week if they meet any of the following conditions: living on campus; taking or teaching in-person classes, labs or studios; working in a research lab; or working in an on-campus job.

Undergraduates who do not access campus but live in the immediate area are also required to be tested twice a week, because they are likely to be in contact with on-campus students.  Graduate students living in the area but not coming to campus are strongly encouraged, but not required, to be tested. Testing is, of course, free. 

As the February 19th announcement conveyed, the campus is instituting even stricter measures to validate students’ compliance with public health requirements, particularly compliance with twice-weekly testing.  Students in compliance with the required testing protocol will have a Green Checkmark in their Health Hub.  If instructors would like, they can ask students to show their Green Checkmark before allowing students to participate in an in-person class, lab, or other activity.  For further information, see my February 19th message


Students out of compliance with the testing protocol will receive multiple notifications and interventions, in this order: (1) an email from the Public Health Promotion Center informing them that they are out of compliance with testing; (2) an email from the Dean of Students Office (DOSO); (3) a personal phone call from the DOSO Student Conduct and Community Standards department, which could lead to the initiation of a violation of the Code of Student Conduct.  Students will also receive an Informational Notification regarding their non-compliance with the testing protocol whenever they log into our Learning Management System (LMS – Moodle or Blackboard).  No student will be removed from a face-to-face class or lab or lose access to the LMS for fully remote courses unless they are found to be in violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Instructors will be informed when this sanction takes place, and they are not required to provide accommodations to the student to make up missed work, as this is considered an unexcused absence.   

Cutting off a student’s access to in-person and remote classes is a serious penalty, but it is in keeping with the seriousness of the offense, an offense that jeopardizes the health and safety of our University community. Under the process described above, non-compliant students will have multiple opportunities to become compliant, or to explain why they are not subject to the policy (e.g., because they have moved out of the area). It is my fervent hope as an educator that it will never be necessary to impose this penalty, but we will do so if necessary. 

 

Sincerely,

John McCarthy

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

A Message from the Provost (Face-to-Face Courses) - February 7, 2021

February 7, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

As the announcement earlier this morning indicates, because of a rise in Covid-19 cases involving students on and off-campus, the University has raised the operational posture from “Elevated” to “High”.  This means that face-to-face classes/labs/studios must move to fully remote delivery while we are in this status for a minimum of two weeks of class.  

Most of our students and our faculty and TOs are familiar with fully remote instruction and the technology tools that facilitate online instruction (Blackboard, Moodle, and Zoom). As in-person instructors temporarily move their classes to a fully remote format, it may be easiest to adopt synchronous online class sessions as temporary substitutes. Faculty with TAs who run face-to-face discussion or lab sections should contact your TAs directly with guidance about the shift to remote instruction.

To facilitate the immediate move of your in-person classes to fully online faculty and instructors will want to take the following steps:

  • Request Moodle or Blackboard for your course(s) if you have not already done so.
  • Create a Zoom link for your synchronous class sessions. See Meeting with your Class in Zoom for instructions on accessing Zoom, running a Zoom meeting and sharing your Zoom Meetings with Students.
  • Communicate your course plans with your students as soon as possible (either through your Moodle or Blackboard course or by using the class roster function in SPIRE). If you will be using Zoom, include the Zoom link you will use for your class and a link to How to join a zoom meeting for students who may be unfamiliar with Zoom.

IDEAS provides instructional support for Blackboard, Moodle, and Zoom. IDEAS consultants are available 9 am to 4 pm today (Sunday); please email instruct@umass.edu for assistance.  Beginning Monday, drop-in Faculty Support Zoom sessions are open Mon – Fri 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. 

CTL, IDEAS, IT, and the Libraries maintain a central help request form. Faculty and instructors needing assistance in redesigning a syllabus or assignments, accessing Library E-reserves, using classroom technologies, or any other assistance related to moving their in-person classes to fully remote can submit a request for assistance through this form.

While we are fully remote, the Provost's Office will pause the Positive Test Notification Process informing instructors of records of positive tests occurring with students in their face-to-face class.  This process will resume when we are back in the classroom in person.

Thank you for all you do in supporting our students in this very difficult time.

 

John McCarthy

Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

 

Message from Provost McCarthy - Spring 2021 - October 23, 2020

October 23, 2020


Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you with a brief update about plans for the spring term. A similar message is going out to staff via HR.

As you know, over the past month a Strategy Group and seven Working Groups have been analyzing possible options for the spring semester. Earlier this week, Chancellor Subbaswamy received their recommendations and later today he will share his plan for next semester with the entire campus community.

The Chancellor and I are deeply grateful to all of you, our faculty and librarians, for all that you have done to give our students a high-quality educational experience and to continue to advance scholarship, discovery, innovation, and artistic creation during the fall term. You will play an equally critical role during the spring semester in ensuring that we continue to advance all aspects of our mission and that we do so with excellence. We still have many details to work out and more information about what spring will look like will be forthcoming. Your input and contributions will be crucial in moving from the Chancellor’s broad plan to its actual implementation.

I know your work and home lives continue to be impacted by the pandemic and I want to thank you for your ongoing commitment to our mission, our students, and the entire UMass Amherst community.

Sincerely,

John McCarthy

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Distinguished Professor

Preferred Pronouns - October 19, 2020

Date: October 19, 2020

To: Deans, Heads/Chairs, & Directors of DEI

From: John McCarthy, Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor; Nefertiti A. Walker, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Chief Diversity Officer; and Claire Hamilton, Associate Provost and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

Subject: Preferred Pronouns

 

Dear Colleagues:

As we make our way through this semester of remote instruction, the Office of Equity and Inclusion has heard from numerous students that their preferred names and pronouns are not consistently included on instructors’ class rosters. Staff in IT and the Registrar’s office continue to attest that students are updating their information correctly, but despite this, many are still being listed and addressed in class by names that they no longer use, and that do not reflect their identities and preferences.

In order to promote learning environments that are inclusive and respectful, we ask that instructors do the following:

  • Continue to update course rosters, to ensure that any changes to preferred names and pronouns are reflected. We also ask that departments utilizing external systems for student records and course registration pull data from SPIRE with more regularity, to ensure that your instructors have access to the most recent information.
  • Encourage students to edit their names in Zoom, to reflect their preferred names and pronouns. For example, “First name Last name - she/her/hers.” Students can access the ‘rename’ function during their Zoom sessions by either right-clicking their name, or clicking the three dots in their thumbnail. Changes should carry over to every Zoom they’re on. If this is disabled for security reasons, please let students know they may edit their names and add pronouns, that reflect their preferences as stated in SPIRE.
  • Be mindful and respectful of students’ preferred names and pronouns, and model this in your courses by addressing each member of your class as they have requested.

We also encourage you to continue to refer to the Dignity and Respect in the Classroom resource, for additional tips and best practices for creating an inclusive and respectful learning environment.

Thank you. 

Graduate Student Employees - Spring 2021 - Appointment Start Dates and Time Off - October 15, 2020

To:      Graduate Student Employees

From:  John McCarthy, Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

CC:   Deans, GPDs, Heads and Chairs

Date: October 15, 2020

RE: Spring 2021 - Appointment Start Dates and Time Off 

As we conclude the first month of the fall semester, we are all mindful of the ongoing uncertainties and concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The same public health considerations that led to a compressed Fall 2020 academic calendar have resulted in similar changes for the Spring.

The Faculty Senate set Monday, February 1, 2021, as the first day of classes for spring 2021 semester. Classes will be held on President’s Day (February 15) and Patriots' Day (April 19), and there will be no spring break period in March.  The Monday holidays will instead be observed on Wednesday, February 24 and April 14. Classes will conclude on May 4. Final grades will be due on May 17.

Appointment Start Dates and Time Off for TAs/TOs

Spring contract dates for TAs/TOs will remain January 3, 2021, through May 15, 2021, per the payroll schedule. However, the start date for Graduate Employees who have been appointed to Teaching Assistantships (TA’s) and Teaching Associateships (TO’s) for the spring semester will be January 19, 2021, with an end date of May 22, 2021 (19 weeks) as the grading deadline has been moved to May 17, 2021. It is expected that those required to enter grades meet the May 17th grading deadline. There will be no spring break in March and TAs and TOs will instead have the week of January 11 through January 15 as paid vacation unless they reach an agreement with their department head for an alternative schedule that would be acceptable. These changes in start and end dates will not alter the length of appointment, compensation, benefits, and pay dates for TA’s and TO’s.  There will be no gap in pay or benefits as a result of the later start date. Classes will be held on President’s Day and Patriots' Day and TA’s and TO’s will be expected to work.  These holidays will instead be observed on February 24 and April 14.  

Appointment Start Dates and Time Off for RA’s, PA’s, and All Other

Graduate students appointed to Research Assistantships (RA’s), Project Assistantships (PA’s), and Internships will maintain their same spring appointment period with a start date of January 17, 2021, and end date of May 29, 2021. Graduate students appointed to Assistant Residence Director (ARDs) positions, including ARD/Apartment Living and ARD/Learning Communities Graduate Assistants, will maintain the same appointment start date of January 17, 2021 

Appointment Start Dates and Time Off for ARD’s

Graduate students appointed as Assistant Residence Directors (ARD) will begin their appointments effective January 10, 2021 with an end date of May 15, 2021 (18 weeks). As in previous semesters, ARD’s are eligible to request vacation time at any point in the semester, pending approval from their supervisor. ARD’s will observe the regular holidays of Presidents day and Patriots day on February 15 and April 19 and be expected to work the Wellbeing Wednesday’s on February 24 and April 14.

Additional Resources

All graduate student employees should be aware of the following resources that are available to them:

Graduate Assistantship Office

Human Resources

International Programs Office

Graduate Employee Organization

 

Questions

Please contact Academic Personnel at academic.personnel@umass.edu  

Fall 2020 Reopening Agreement with GEO-UAW - September 25, 2020

To: Deans, Department Heads/Chairs, GPDs

From: John McCarthy, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Re: Fall Reopening Agreement with GEO-UAW

Date: September 25, 2020

Dear Colleagues, I am pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached between the campus administration and the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) regarding the University’s fall reopening plans.

The agreement addresses some of the most pressing subjects impacting graduate employees during the fall semester. It includes a clear process and criteria for accommodating on-site graduate employees who are at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19, an expansion of the current family and medical leave provisions to address certain unique medical and caregiver needs related to COVID-19, and guaranteed access to University-provided personal protective equipment for on-site workers. The agreement also confirms that certain holidays (Labor Day, the Second Monday in October and Veteran’s Day) will be observed by TAs/TOs after the December 14, 2020 grading deadline. I encourage you to review the agreement on the Provost’s website for more information.

Any questions about the agreement should be addressed to Academic Personnel at Academic.Personnel@umass.edu. Additional information on policies and procedures can be found on the Graduate School’s website.

Revised Academic Calendar for Spring 2021 - September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Today, the Faculty Senate approved a revised academic calendar for the Spring 2021 semester. As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, changes were implemented to the spring semester to take into consideration the safest way for us to proceed by limiting risk to the campus community. A copy of the revised calendar can be viewed at the bottom of this email.

The Spring 2021 semester will begin on Monday, Feb. 1. This two-week delay will put us further along into the traditional flu season in Massachusetts, and perhaps even near the end of it. Starting two weeks later than normal will also provide more time for outdoor opportunities and activities in warmer weather.

There will not be a Spring Break nor the two long weekends we traditionally observe in the spring – Presidents' Day (Feb. 15) and Patriots' Day (April 19). This should minimize students and other community members from leaving the local area to travel to potentially high-risk COVID regions and then return to the Amherst area. 

In place of the long holiday weekends, we will observe two Wellbeing Wednesdays on Feb. 24 and April 14. On those days, there will be no classes, and instead programming and activities surrounding well-being for students and faculty will be planned. The lost instructional days on those Wednesdays will be made up on a Monday and Tuesday during the semester.

The semester will end one week later than normal. Classes will end on Tuesday, May 4, and final exams will end on Wednesday, May 12.

Undergraduate Commencement and Graduate Commencement have been rescheduled to be held Friday, May 14, and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture Commencement is set for Saturday, May 15. No decisions have been made about whether the ceremonies will be virtual or held in person.

While we know this academic calendar will present challenges to some, campus leaders and the Faculty Senate feel it is of utmost importance to protect the health and safety of campus in the spring. Please note that no decisions have been made yet regarding how instruction will be delivered (in-person or remote) or how many students will be allowed to live on campus. It is difficult to forecast the trajectory or impact of the pandemic going forward, but we will communicate these decisions in ample time for our students and their families to create plans.

 

 

spring 2021 calendar

Reminder and Update - Workload Adjustments for Developing High-Quality Fully Online Courses - August 20, 2020

To: All Faculty

From: John McCarthy, Provost

Date: August 20, 2020

Subject: Reminder and Update - Workload Adjustments for Developing High-Quality Fully Online Courses


Faculty who convert a traditional face-to-face course to a high quality fully online course are entitled to a workload accommodation or modification that must be articulated in writing between the faculty member and the department chair.

In order to request a workload adjustment for course development the faculty member will need to initiate and complete a Workload Accommodation submission in the University’s Academic Personnel Workflow System (APWS) for review and approval by the relevant department chair/head.

In consultation with the MSP, the following deadlines have been established for faculty to initiate a Workload Accommodation submission in APWS in order to receive timely feedback from department chairs and heads and for workload accommodations to be appropriately documented.


Deadlines:

Monday, August 31, 2020:  Deadline for faculty to submit their workload accommodation submission in APWS. Faculty should describe their plans for converting their course to fully-online and how the design and delivery of the course will fulfill the University’s Quality Standards.  

Monday, September 7, 2020 (Add/Drop Deadline): Deadline for Department Heads/Chairs to review and respond to the faculty submission.

At the end of the Fall 2020 semester faculty should upload a report that briefly describes the efforts made to convert the course to fully online. The report should include a self-assessment of what worked well in the course design and delivery and what the faculty member would improve in the future.

Questions:

For more information please see the frequently asked questions document on the Provost’s website.

Please direct all questions to academic.personnel@umass.edu.

 


 

Workload Accommodation for Faculty Converting Courses - August 11, 2020

MEMORANDUM


To:         All Faculty

From:     John McCarthy, Provost

Date:      August 11, 2020

Subject:  Workload Accommodation for Faculty Converting Courses

As you are aware, the University reached an agreement with the MSP to ensure that much of our traditional in-person curriculum is transformed into high-quality, fully online courses that will incorporate significant student engagement and the academic rigor that UMass Amherst students have come to expect. 

Faculty who convert a traditional face-to-face course to fully online must engage extensively with Information Technology, instructional design and pedagogy experts from the Instructional Design, Engagement and Support group (IDEAS), the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the Libraries and other relevant resources to ensure the course meets University Quality Standards for Fully Online Courses. Faculty who meet this requirement are entitled to a workload accommodation or modification that must be articulated in writing between the faculty member and the department chair.

In order to meet the requirement that workload accommodations or modifications be articulated in writing between the faculty member and the department chair, faculty must initiate and complete a Workload Accommodation submission in the University’s Academic Personnel Workflow System (APWS). It is presumed that the faculty members and their respective department heads/chairs have already discussed and agreed upon an accommodation prior to the submission.

Once submitted, the application will be forwarded to the respective department head or chair for review and approval. Department chairs/heads will have the option to return the submission back to the faculty member for revision if necessary. Deans will then be provided an opportunity to review and comment on the submission which will subsequently be routed to the Provost’s office for tracking and reporting to ensure consistent application of the agreement. At the end of the Fall 2020 semester faculty will need to upload a report briefly describing the efforts made to convert the course to fully online. The report should include a self-assessment of what worked well in the course design and delivery and what the faculty member would improve in the future.

For more information about the one-year extension agreement, please see the summary of key changes and frequently asked questions document on the Provost’s website. Please contact academic.personnel@umass.edu with questions. 

Emergency Technology Assistance Fund: Invitation to Apply - July 27, 2020

July 27, 2020

 Dear Colleagues,

The Provost’s Office is pleased to announce the establishment of an Emergency Technology Assistance Fund to support MSP bargaining unit members who have technology-related needs in order to perform their work remotely, or who have an outdated computer that is eligible for replacement. Faculty and librarians will have the option of choosing from a pre-approved catalog of University-supported computers, laptops or tablets, or request a custom configuration of equipment. Additionally, bargaining unit members may also request funds for additional technology-related needs necessary to enable them to perform their work remotely such as peripherals or reimbursements for upgraded Internet packages.

In an effort to expedite requests, the Provost’s Office partnered with Central IT to centralize the processing, procurement and configuration of approved funds for equipment on the pre-approved catalog. Faculty who apply for funds for additional technology needs such as a peripheral or reimbursement for upgraded Internet packages should work with their departments to finalize the transaction once approved. Reimbursement requests will require the same supporting documents that are required for similar business expenses, such as a receipt or other proof of purchase. Faculty who applied for funds through the Chancellor’s Computer Replacement Fund (CCRF) in the spring of 2020 will be prioritized.

The Emergency Technology Assistance Fund is accepting applications through the University’s Academic Personnel Workflow System (APWS) from July 27, 2020 to Aug. 5, 2020. MSP bargaining unit members may apply for funds by navigating to the Create a New Submission tab, selecting the Technology Assistance application and following the instructions.

Faculty should reach out to apws-support@provost.umass.edu or academic.personnel@umass.edu with any questions.

Provost Announcement of One-year MSP Agreement - July 27, 2020

July 27, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that UMass President Marty Meehan has just approved an agreement reached between the campus administration and the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP) to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by one year with certain modifications.

The one-year agreement freezes salaries and other cost items at current levels and covers the period beginning July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. The contract extension includes innovative “crisis response” provisions that will facilitate the University’s carefully designed reopening plans. These provisions will ensure that much of our traditional in-person curriculum is transformed into high-quality, fully online courses that will incorporate significant student engagement and the academic rigor that UMass Amherst students have come to expect. The crisis response provisions include summer and holiday work requirements, a compression of the traditional academic work year and required compliance with University Quality Standards in the development and delivery of online courses.

We are grateful to the MSP and the faculty and librarians they represent for their collective dedication to our students and for their partnership with us during these challenging times. I want to publicly acknowledge the excellent work of the bargaining teams in reaching this agreement that will enable a safe reopening of the University this fall without compromising the student learning experience. The agreement also reaffirms our commitment to excellence in research, outreach and engagement by giving faculty flexibility in the future to refocus on their cutting-edge research programs and service to the community and profession through phased workload adjustments and enhanced sabbatical leave. Among other things, the agreement creatively repurposes existing collective bargaining funds to provide resources for technology and equipment necessary to transform our face-to-face instruction to high-quality online instruction and to offset child and eldercare expenses.

Implementation of the agreement is currently underway in consultation with campus partners. I encourage you to review the agreement as well as the summary of key changes and FAQ documents posted on the Provost’s website for more information.

Any questions about the agreement should be addressed to Academic Personnel at Academic.Personnel@umass.edu.

 

John McCarthy

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

 

Request/Message to Grad Employees - July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020


To:      Graduate Student Employees (TAs, TOs, RAs & PAs)

From:  John McCarthy,
           Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs  

As we approach the start of the fall semester, we are all mindful of the ongoing uncertainties and concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The abrupt and disruptive departure from campus in March as a result of COVID-19, and the transition to remote learning affected the entire campus community, including our graduate student employees. The Fall 2020 planning process drew from the insights of 100 faculty, staff, and students across six working groups, including feedback from many graduate students. We are grateful to the graduate students who participated in the planning process and those who shared thoughtful questions and feedback by email and in the online forums with our campus leaders.

As you know, the Faculty Senate set Monday, August 24, 2020 as the first day of the fall 2020 semester, with classes held on Labor Day, the second Monday in October, and Veterans Day. Classes will conclude on November 20, at which time students will be expected to move out of campus residence halls. Final exams will be conducted remotely after Thanksgiving.

Appointment Start Dates

The start date for graduate students who have been appointed to Teaching Assistantships (TA’s) and Teaching Associateships (TO’s) for the fall semester will now be August 23, 2020 (previously September 6, 2020), with an end date of January 2, 2021 (previously January 16, 2021). TA’s and TO’s are expected to complete their grading responsibilities by midnight on Monday, December 14, 2020. TA’s and TO’s appointed on academic year appointments will now have an end date of May 15, 2021 instead of May 29, 2021. These changes in appointment dates maintain the same period of appointment, compensation, and benefits but accommodate the revised academic calendar. Graduate student employees who are required to teach on Labor Day, the second Monday in October, or Veterans Day will receive compensatory time off.

Graduate students with TA or TO appointments who have exceptional personal situations that might prevent them from starting their work on August 24th should contact their faculty supervisor or Graduate Program Director to discuss alternative arrangements.

Graduate students appointed to Research Assistantships (RAs), Project Assistantships (PAs), and Internships will maintain the same appointment period with a start date of September 6, 2020 and an end date of January 16, 2021.

Graduate students appointed to Assistant Residence Director (ARDs) positions, including ARD/Apartment Living and ARD/Learning Communities Graduate Assistants, will maintain the same appointment start date of August 13, 2020. As the Chancellor’s message to the campus community said, all undergraduate students who have reserved on-campus housing for the upcoming semester, and for whom there is space available, are invited to live on campus. ARDs should consult their supervisors directly for information about their work assignments related to supporting the residential population.

Orientations and Onboarding paperwork

All graduate student employees must complete the required hiring packet provided online by Human Resources. Human Resources information and resources for graduate employees can be found here. International graduate student employees can get additional information from the International Programs Office. Information about the Graduate School’s orientation for new Teaching Assistants will be available on the Graduate School’s website in the first week of August. Graduate student employees should also consult their departments directly for additional information about program-specific orientations and events.

Resources for TA’s and TO’s

As the Chancellor’s message to the campus community indicated, most courses will be offered remotely during the fall 2020 semester, with the exception of some courses that have been designated by colleges/departments as face-to-face and essential for delivery in the fall, including labs, studios and other courses requiring hands-on work. Graduate students who have been assigned as TA’s and TO’s should confirm the modality and schedule of their course assignment with the department head or their supervisor. TA’s and TO’s can check the assigned day/time and also modality (face-to-face or entirely remote) in SPIRE. Fully remote classes must be offered on the assigned day/time if they have synchronous components to ensure that there are no scheduling conflicts with other courses in which students are enrolled. The Center for Teaching and Learning, IDEAS, IT, and the Libraries have worked together to provide resources and support for faculty and graduate student instructors in teaching their fall classes. These resources as well as a centralized help request form are now available on the University Quality Standards: FlexForward to Online Teaching central web portal.

Graduate student TA’s and TO’s who have been assigned to a face-to-face course and are in a group that is at a high risk for COVID-19 as defined in the CDC guidelines should contact Human Resources and their Graduate Program Director to request an accommodation.

Information for RA’s and PA’s

Graduate students who have appointments as Research Assistants and Project Assistants should be aware of the following information. UMass Amherst is reopening research labs and other facilities for research and creative activities based on the state plan and requirements for Reopening Massachusetts, which currently recommends that activities continue remotely as much as possible. The reopening of labs and other research facilities is taking place in stages, as the university certifies that the Sector Specific Safety Standards for Laboratories and Office Spaces are met. The reopening of labs and other research facilities requires Research and Library Operating Plans proposed by faculty and approved by departments and deans, in coordination with the Office of Research and Engagement. Graduate students who have appointments as Research Assistants should contact their supervisors directly about their work assignments. Graduate students who are at high risk for COVID-19 and are requested to work on campus should contact the designated person in their school or college dean’s office.

Additional Resources

All graduate student employees should be aware of the following resources that are available to them:

Graduate Assistantship Office

Human Resources

International Programs Office

Graduate Employee Organization

There are still many details that need to be worked out as we begin to implement our reopening plan, and we are committed to updating you regularly. More information, including FAQs on a number of topics, can be found on the university’s reopening website www.umass.edu/reopening

 

University of Massachusetts Amherst

AFR Announcement to Faculty - July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

If you are a faculty member with an appointment at 50% FTE or greater, you must complete the Annual Faculty Report and Evaluation (AFR) and submit it through the online Academic Personnel Workflow System (APWS). Your AFR for AY2019-20 will be due on or before October 15, 2020. Faculty with appointments at less than 50% are not required to submit an AFR. Nonetheless, departments should institute some means of evaluating the performance of those faculty who are not required to submit an AFR whether it be the AFR or some other instrument of the department’s choice.

The AFR provides the official record on which many faculty personnel decisions are based, and it is vital to faculty development, both as an opportunity for self-reflection and as a basis for discussion among departmental and other colleagues. In the AFR faculty must document their teaching, student advising, research and creative activities, and service -- as appropriate to their appointment. We also want to encourage faculty to list any faculty mentoring they provided, including peer mentoring, in the service portion of the AFR. 

Beginning in the Spring 2020 semester, faculty across the University experienced a significant disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the health crisis, all faculty moved their courses online, research facilities including labs and libraries were closed and all student evaluation of teaching was suspended. In conjunction with the disruptions experienced on-campus, many faculty were working out of their homes while simultaneously providing childcare due to closures of daycare facilities and K-12 schooling. Research disruptions, shifts in teaching modalities, limited childcare, and remote work persisted into Summer 2020. As such, we invite you to include a Pandemic Impact Statement with your AFR describing the adjustments you have made, how your work in particular has been impacted by the health crisis, and your contributions to the University’s transition to remote work. A new section will be added under the Additional Activities portion of this year’s AFR for this purpose. 

Faculty, particularly those newer to UMass, should consult with their department chair or head and DPC chair to clarify departmental expectations regarding what should be documented on their AFRs. In addition, having a colleague review a draft of your AFR before submitting it can be very helpful.

AFR deadlines for AY2019-20:

  • Faculty submit completed AFR in APWS by October 15, 2020.
  • Department head/chair uploads job descriptions for NTT faculty only by October 30, 2020.
  • DPC adds its review to each AFR and advances all AFRs to the department chair/head by December 17, 2020.
  • Chair/head completes reviews of all AFRs in APWS by January 15, 2021.
  • Faculty member responds to DPC and chair/head reviews or releases the AFR without response by January 25, 2021.
  • Dean advances to Provost by February 24, 2021.

The AFRs must be completed in the Academic Personnel Workflow System using the online form under the “Create New Submission” tab. You may begin work on it at any time. You can save drafts and electronically “share” your draft with others before finally submitting the form.

Questions can be directed to the Provost’s Academic Personnel team at academic.personnel@umass.edu

Fifteen-Minute Break Time Between Classes To Be Safely Reinstituted - July 1, 2020

July 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The recently announced Fall Reopening Plan included a change to the class day/time matrix to increase time between classes to 30 minutes, with the goal of reducing interactive foot traffic on campus and providing time for increased cleaning of lab and classroom spaces. Many of you, as well as many students, have expressed concern about this change and its unintended impact on teaching and learning, including the impact on fully remote classes with synchronous activity. We want to encourage and not discourage synchronous activity because it increases student engagement. I am writing to let you know that we have heard you, and I asked my team to re-evaluate this decision with Environmental Health & Safety and the Deputy Chancellor.

Through their analysis, we have concluded that we will be able to revert back to the regular course day/time matrix with the 15-minute break between classes, with no adverse effect on health and safety. A team from Campus Planning, Facilities and Environmental Health & Safety will be working with deans, department heads and chairs, and faculty members teaching face-to-face this fall to establish a health and safety protocol including appropriate cleaning for each classroom/lab/studio in use for face-to-face instruction. This cleaning can be accomplished within the traditional course day/time matrix.

This change will be reflected in SPIRE on Thursday morning. At that time you will be able to see the time for your courses changed back to the original class day/time block that they were assigned for the fall. Students will also receive a communication today regarding this change in class times.

I thank you for the feedback we received, and your understanding and patience along the way, as we continue to work towards implementing our 2020 Fall Reopening Plan.


John McCarthy,
Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Revised Academic Calendar for Fall 2020 - June 17, 2020

June 17, 2020

Dear Campus Community, 

While we are still finalizing our fall reopening plans regarding on-campus housing and the mix of remote and in-person instruction, today we are announcing a revised academic calendar for the fall. 

Classes will start earlier than usual, on Aug. 24, conclude Nov. 20, and students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving recess. Final exams will be conducted remotely. Classes will be held on three holidays: Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. 

The revised schedule, adopted by the Faculty Senate Rules Committee, is designed to establish as safe an environment as possible to manage the risks associated with COVID-19. When the university’s complete reopening plan is shared with the community by June 30, details will be forthcoming about on-campus housing assignments and how off-campus students can access instruction in August if their leases don’t start until September.

Key dates in the Fall Academic Calendar include: 

Aug. 24: First day of classes

Sept. 7: Labor Day, classes will be held

Oct. 12: Columbus Day, classes will be held

Nov. 11: Veterans Day, classes will be held

Nov. 20: Last day of classes

Nov. 20: Thanksgiving recess begins after end of classes

Nov. 27-28: Reading Days

Nov. 30-Dec. 4: Final Exams

Dec. 14: Final grades due by midnight

 

We are pleased to be moving ahead with this vital aspect of fall planning, and we look forward to reopening campus for you in August.
 

A Message from the Provost about Fall 2020 Reopening - June 29, 2020

June 29, 2020

Dear Faculty:

Chancellor Subbaswamy recently announced the Fall Reopening Plan for the campus, and I am certain that you will have many questions as we work together to implement this plan. I am writing now with an update to facilitate your planning for the fall semester and to encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with your department head/chair, your dean, and my office, so that we may continue to support you. These are certainly unprecedented times and our role as faculty members teaching and mentoring our undergraduate and graduate students has changed immensely under the conditions in which we find ourselves in the midst of this pandemic. I continue to be inspired by your hard work and dedication and your flexibility and patience, as we work together to balance the mission of the University with the health and safety of the campus community.

Some of you may be concerned by the invitation to allow students to return to campus. The reasons that the Chancellor gives are compelling, but I can assure you that the health and safety of our faculty and staff was a priority in making the decision to restrict on-campus face-to-face instruction to those courses where hands-on work is necessary, prioritizing these courses when needed to bring advanced undergraduate and graduate students to degree completion. We will also be encouraging faculty to hold completely remote office hours, perform any faculty advising and mentoring of students remotely, and conduct all in-person activities such as oral exams, thesis and dissertation defenses remotely as well.

Below, I highlight information that may be of help to you as we take the next steps in preparing for the Fall 2020 semester.

Essential face-to-face and remote course designations

Courses that have been already requested and approved by my office as face-to-face and essential for delivery in the fall, will be offered face-to-face. These courses include labs, studios, performance and hands-on courses that are required for degree pathways, licensure or accreditation for upper level students and graduate students who are close to degree completion. All other courses will be offered fully remote (online). Faculty can find the instructional modality for their course(s) by looking at their Faculty Center in SPIRE. In the My Teaching Schedule>Fall 2020 Room field the essential face-to-face courses will have a building and room location identified while the fully remote courses will have “Fully Remote Class” in the Room field. Students will also be able to see the instructional modality of all of their courses in their Student Center in SPIRE.

It is important to note that only essential face-to-face courses that have been previously identified and approved will be able to meet in person on campus. And some of these courses will have the lecture component offered remotely while the lab, studio portion will be offered face-to-face. For the health and welfare of the broader campus community, faculty should not independently hold face-to-face classes if the course has not already been identified as an essential face-to-face course. If you have been assigned a face-to-face course and are in a group that is at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness as defined in CDC guidelines or have other reasons for seeking an accommodation, you should contact your department chair and Human Resources.

All honors thesis projects/independent studies should be held remotely unless it involves essential lab-work. Faculty should request approval for students to work in laboratory or field research work via the research laboratory and field work operating plan process. It is recommended, though, that projects be adjusted to remote work if possible. The Honors College will also be communicating directly with faculty and students regarding lab-based honors thesis work and alternative arrangements that may need to be made to accommodate health and safety protocol.

Academic Calendar and Class Day/Time Matrix                                                              

Fall 2020 instruction will begin August 24 and conclude November 20, with classes held on Labor Day, the second Monday in October, and Veterans Day. Final exam week will be held Monday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 4th and will be conducted remotely. With this earlier start to the semester, some students may experience difficulty in moving into their off-campus housing in time to begin face-to-face instruction on campus. Faculty teaching face-to-face courses will be asked to assist these students with make-up accommodations or other alternatives so the students can remain enrolled in the class. In addition, we may experience a higher-than-usual occurrence of students being absent from class due to health reasons. Whatever flexibility you can offer and accommodations you can provide to assist these students will be greatly appreciated. And please avoid attendance policies that might encourage students to attend class when they are not feeling well.

The day/time course schedule will also be adjusted to increase time between classes to 30 minutes to reduce interactive foot traffic on campus and provide time for increased cleaning of lab and classroom spaces when needed. Classes being offered fully remote should adhere to their day/time assignment if they have synchronous activity so as not to conflict with another course assigned day/time in the student’s schedule.

Faculty Assistance and Support with Fully Remote Instruction

Extensive assistance and support in converting courses to fully remote (online) delivery will be provided to faculty. The Center for Teaching and Learning, the IDEAS group, Information Technology, and the Libraries have worked together to outline best practices and step-by-step guidelines for faculty to use in planning, creating and implementing their fall courses.

These resources include short videos and guidelines for course redesign, a full series of webinars on various instructional technologies, faculty course modules offered through Moodle and Blackboard, information on the use of Echo, Zoom and other technology tools, as well as a range of consultation and help services offered to support faculty and departments in course design, technology use and accessing library resources. These resources will be accessible through a central web portal and include a centralized help request for all services. This­­­ team will email all faculty and instructors, including graduate teaching assistants, with instructions on how to access services.

Thank you again for ALL you are doing to provide the best quality educational experience we can to our students in the midst of this challenge. We look forward to working together with all of you in the weeks and months ahead in preparation for the Fall 2020 semester.

John McCarthy

Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Distinguished Professor

 

The PDF of the Provost's letter can be found below. 

Attached Files

A Message from the Provost about Fall Reopening Plan.pdf

A Message to Graduate Students from John McCarthy, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs - May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020

To:       Graduate Students

CC:      Faculty

From:  John McCarthy, Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Date:   May 8, 2020

Graduate education is central to our mission as a public research university, and our commitment to providing our graduate students with excellent educational and research opportunities remains unchanged despite the significant challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has unleashed not only a public health crisis but also an economic crisis that has severely affected our university and all of Massachusetts. Our campus incurred an over $40 million deficit generated by the closure of campus facilities and resulting reimbursements to students. Going forward, we will have to exercise great financial discipline as we plan for the future during these uncertain times.

During this period of unprecedented disruption, we firmly believe that the university should play a leading role in helping our graduate students navigate this uncertain terrain so that they may continue their education in the months and years ahead. We realize that the public health crisis has caused immediate and real challenges for our graduate students, and we are working to support students in need. A first step was the distribution of support to graduate students who lost hourly jobs in dining and elsewhere after spring break. Now, to help graduate students stay on track with their academic progress toward degree completion, we have pooled institutional and Federal monies to create a graduate student financial aid fund of $1 million. This fund is an additional supplement to the regular financial aid process and other relief programs already available to students, as well as the assistantships awarded to graduate students. Awards of financial support through this fund will be based on demonstrated need. The application process will be announced next week.

By combining institutional and Federal funds, the university’s graduate student financial aid fund will provide relief to both our domestic and our international graduate students. The latter comprise nearly 40% of the graduate student population. Additionally, the International Programs Office (IPO) advising staff continues to be accessible via email and Zoom for individual advising and immigration needs. The IPO also continues to partner closely with the Student Legal Services Office in instances when international students need legal counsel on matters that are outside of IPO’s regulatory and legal purview. Students are encouraged to contact IPO or Student Legal Services for further information and assistance.

Many graduate students have been able to continue with their coursework and research during this period of remote instruction. We recognize, however, that there are many students whose research has been disrupted by the closure of campus facilities or an inability to access research sites elsewhere. The Provost, Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, and the Deans will continue to work closely with our faculty to assess students’ academic and research progress and develop appropriate contingency plans as needed. Given the variation among our 48 doctoral and 78 Master’s degree programs, this planning is best managed within the programs and colleges to ensure that students receive the instruction, mentoring, and professional development best suited to their fields of study. We are pleased to see that programs and faculty across campus are continuing to hire graduate student research assistants, teaching assistants, and instructors for this summer and the upcoming academic year. To date, nearly 800 graduate students have been hired for summer assistantships (with more appointments in process), confirming graduate students’ ongoing participation in the life of the university. In advance of the contractual April 15 deadline, I authorized the colleges to proceed with Fall reappointments of TAs and TOs. I have also exempted all students, graduate and undergraduate, from the hiring freeze in Academic Affairs.

The campus remains committed to moving forward with the construction of modern and reliable residential facilities for graduate students and their families. The Residential Life staff have been working closely with North Village and Lincoln residents and local landlords since fall of 2019 to assist in the transition to alternative, off-campus housing. These staff have provided flexible move-out schedules to conform with applicable state guidance and individual needs. Residential Life staff will continue to communicate with students about their plans in the upcoming weeks and months.

Additionally, the Student Affairs and Campus Life unit has developed an extensive list of resources and support services that are always available to graduate students. Graduate students can find information about how to access both university and community-based resources on the Single Stop Resources webpage. The offices of our legislative delegation are also prepared to offer assistance: Senator Jo Comerford and Representative Mindy Domb. Working with state government, we are investigating whether graduate students who lost jobs are eligible for unemployment payments.

In order to fulfill the university’s mission of advancing education and research, campus leaders are engaged in extensive planning for the fall semester and are exploring ways to ensure that students can continue their studies. As the Chancellor shared with our campus community last month, he has convened an administrative working group, which I chair. He has also organized six committees to gather information and provide feedback to the working group. Graduate students, including representatives from the Graduate Student Senate, sit on committees where their insights and perspectives will be most important as we work to develop plans for the fall semester. Informed by this process, a decision regarding the fall semester, whether the campus operates remotely, in-person, or in some combination, will be made by early July.

We do not know when the pandemic will end, and while our planning for the fall will depend on the progression of the pandemic – and the attendant restrictions on travel, size of gatherings, and general threat to health and safety of individuals and the community – we are engaged in extensive planning for every possible scenario, and will communicate decisions as soon as they are made so our graduate students can also plan accordingly.

 

A Message to the Faculty from the Provost - March 19, 2020

March 19, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I am immensely grateful to all of you for your resilience and willingness to assume the extraordinary tasks of moving all instruction, service, and, where possible, scholarly activities to remote and online platforms for the duration of this health crisis. Just one of these efforts under normal circumstances would be arduous, and you are engaged on every front. I recognize your exceptional contributions and I thank you.

We have been discussing with our colleagues in the MSP leadership the anxieties that many faculty and librarians share about how their work during this semester will be evaluated. I agree that you have enough challenges serving our students without this additional burden, so I want to set your mind at ease. All of these special conditions have been discussed with the MSP – and often suggested by them -- and final language will be developed in consultation with them.

Changes in Timing of Decisions on Tenure, Reappointment, and Continuing Appointment

Given the monumental tasks we face this spring semester, it is unreasonable to expect that normal progress can be made in all areas of faculty activity: research, teaching, and service. The cancellation of conferences and research travel, reduced access to labs, the suspension of human-subjects research, and other factors compound the dampening effects of reduced time faculty have available for research/scholarly activity. Even high achievers, such as our UMass Amherst faculty, have limits, as they balance exceptional demands at work and home, particularly with schools closed. Because of this, and because current conditions may persist into the summer, I announce that all pre-tenure faculty members will be granted a one-year delay of their tenure decision, unless they affirmatively elect to be reviewed on schedule. In addition, upon the award of tenure and promotion, the promotion increment in salary will be retroactive to the semester when promotion would have occurred without this one-year delay. The same delay will apply to reviews for reappointment through the tenure decision year (“4.2 reviews”). Reviews for tenure, promotion, and reappointment that are already in progress will continue as scheduled, because they are based on work that was done prior to the current crisis.

Reviews of non-tenure-track faculty and librarians for continuing appointment will also be delayed by one year, if they so choose. The current semester will be credited as service for all other purposes including eligibility for continuous appointment and promotion in rank for non-tenure track faculty.

Guidance to Department Personnel Committees and Others

For all faculty and librarian reviews and personnel actions, in consultation with the MSP, I will issue guidance about the potential adverse effects of the Spring 2020 semester in each of the three areas of faculty responsibility. Moreover, this guidance will give weight to any special contributions made to advance teaching and learning during the COVID-19 health crisis, such as the leadership displayed by tech-savvy faculty who are helping their colleagues adapt to this mode of instruction. This guidance will be directed to personnel committees and other levels of review when assessing cases for promotion, tenure, or continuous appointment, AFRs or ARELs, merit, and any other academic personnel actions. We will also develop relevant language for letters soliciting external reviews.

Suspension of Spring 2020 SRTIs

The administration of the SRTI is suspended for the Spring 2020 semester. Despite the wonderful and creative work of faculty members preparing to transition their courses to remote instruction in various modes, and although there will be many students who will quickly and smoothly adapt to these new modalities, there is likely to be dissatisfaction among some students about the unusual situation in which we find ourselves. Faculty who wish to do an ad hoc evaluation for their own purposes can consult the Center for Teaching and Learning or the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment for assistance, but the results will be available to the faculty member only and no record will be kept. We will also enlist the help of the faculty in understanding how student learning and student success have fared in remote instruction.

Bear in mind that we have a variety of resources in place to help faculty members transition to remote instruction. Please see: provost/disruption-resilient-instruction. Faculty who seek individual help can reach out to: instruct@umass.edu, where they can get support from IT, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the University Without Walls Instructional Design Engagement and Support Group (IDEAS).

Pass/fail Grading

Grading policy is set by the Faculty Senate, not the administration. At times when the Senate is not meeting, the Senate Rules Committee has authority to act on behalf of the Senate, subject to review when the Senate later meets. My office is in discussions with the Rules Committee about various grading options to help meet the needs of students and faculty. Any policy change will be coming from the Senate office.

Childcare and Technology Support

Under the MSP contract, the University provides various funds to support the professional activities of faculty and librarians including technology replacement and childcare assistance. We will re-budget among these funds to areas of greatest need, such as childcare and technology support, and we will supplement these funds if re-budgeting proves insufficient to meet the need.

In conclusion, please care for your health and safety, and that of your loved ones. Know that your efforts to carry on with educating and serving students in this time of outbreak are powerfully visible and keenly appreciated. In good conscience, I encourage you to pace yourselves with respect to research and service. The time will come to rededicate your commitments in these areas when the current crisis resolves.

With gratitude for all that you do,

John

John McCarthy
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor

Important: If you hear reports of possible exposure to coronavirus, contact the COVID-19 HR response team at 413-687-2283 or COVID19HR@umass.edu.

URL: /coronavirus/news/if-you-hear-reports-possible-exposure-coronavirus-contact-covid-19-hr-response-team