Academic Staff Executive Committee Minutes 12-03-20
2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, December 3, 2020
Members Present: Donna Cole; Jenny Dahlberg, chair; Tim Dalby; Stephanie Elkins; Mallory Musolf; Leslie Petty; Deb Shapiro; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron; Bill Tishler
Guests: Elizabeth Covington, Lesley Fisher, Danielle Hairston-Green, Karl Scholz, John Zumbrunnen
The meeting was called to order at 2:30 p.m.
The minutes of November 19 were approved with one correction.
Guest: Karl Scholz, Provost
Provost Scholz reported that the timetable for spring courses is now in place. Students can begin to register as early as this week, though some may choose to wait until after final exams. There is also a great deal of variation across schools/colleges/divisions in instructional modalities for the spring semester. With respect to budget cuts, next week all administrative units and schools/colleges/divisions will be reporting on plans to meet the one-time budget reduction. Schools/colleges/divisions are getting somewhat larger one-time cuts, while administrative units will be getting higher ongoing base cuts. Base budget cuts are happening as part of the normal budget process, which will happen after the first of the year. These budget discussions will focus less on 5-year forecasts and more on strategies to negotiate base budget cuts. This process will unfold in February and March. Provost Scholz will encourage the deans to have conversations with CASIs as a way to involve shared governance in the decision-making around these issues. ASEC also suggested possible town halls within schools/colleges/divisions as an addition to any written communication. Regarding summer session, there will likely still be a mixture of instructional modalities, with the majority likely still being remote.
Jenny Dahlberg, ASEC chair, reported on her efforts to encourage staff involvement in the decision-making around the base budget cuts, which the Provost addressed in his visit. Jenny also reported on the first academic staff chat, which was on the topic of work-life balance for those with care responsibilities. The chat was well attended and participants were very engaged. One takeaway was the potential stigmas around elder care not receiving the same understanding and priority that childcare does. This issue will be pursued further with OHR and the Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff Affairs.
Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff, received a request from the Sustainability Office to provide reports on the progress of the Sustainability Advisory Committee. ASEC wanted to hear updates from the committee before scheduling them for future Assembly meetings. Jake reported that the Policy Library Project is nearing completion. Policies are being loaded into the library, and policies that came out of academic staff governance, including ASPP, will be included. Jake will invite those heading up the project to a future ASEC meeting to talk more about the next steps for the library. The Fall CASI Session is scheduled for December 18.
Deb Shapiro reported that the Librarians Assembly heard from Vice Provost for Libraries Lisa Carter about the libraries’ strategic plan and responses to COVID. At its recent meeting, the L&S CASI discussed budget cuts, resources for online teaching, and ways to promote more peer-to-peer interaction among students. There was also discussion of the progress on the L&S building project.
Leslie Petty reported on the previous day’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic and University Staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The initial meetings of this committee have been spent navigating the broad charge given to the committee. Members are breaking into smaller subgroups to start looking at data, and the full committee will be meeting with Interim Chief Diversity Officer Cheryl Gittens on December 15.
Bill Tishler reported that the University Committee heard reports from the Campus Diversity and Climate Committee and the Budget Committee, which will be presented to the Faculty Senate. There were also discussions of tenure extensions due to COVID and the possibility of some functions of the Faculty Commission on Compensation and Economic Benefits to the campus-wide Budget Committee.
Tim Dalby reported on Tuesday’s ASM meeting. The resolution on telecommuting was tabled until the next meeting. There were also discussions of divestment from fossil fuels, banning surveillance, and decriminalizing cannabis. There was also commendation for students who served as election officials in the recent election, and a recommendation was made that students performing such service be given time off from classes to do so.
Lindsey Stoddard Cameron reported on the recent meeting of the Campus Planning Committee. The committee met with the Wisconsin Black Student Union to discuss the proposal to move Chamberlin Rock. There are several options under consideration, and there was discussion about the rock’s value as a teaching tool and as a geologic specimen. Faculty in the Department of Geosciences were also consulted, and there has also been consultation with the Ho-Chunk Nation due to the rock’s proximity to the effigy mounds nearby.
· December Assembly Agenda
Motion to approve the December Assembly agenda (Dalby). Seconded. Approved.
· Topics for Guests
VPFS: revised 6/9/12-month goals, updates on Campus Committee for Diversity Education and Training
OHR: ALRA, international students, single payroll, vaccinations and potential requirements around them
Guest: John Zumbrunnen, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning
Vice Provost Zumbrunnen reported on the recent survey of undergraduate students about their education experience this year. The Provost shared an overview of the survey at the last ASEC meeting, and Vice Provost Zumbrunnen focused on a series of questions that applied to a course that is going well for students and a course that is not. The survey then posed a series of questions about what is happening in those courses on topics including course organization, expectations, regular communication with instructors, assignments that support learning, peer interaction, and whether students felt supported in the technology used in their courses. The survey affirms that there are a number of things going well that are core to success for students, but the peer-to-peer interactions rate lower on a 5-point scale even for courses that are going well. These quantitative data also track with what the Vice Provost is hearing anecdotally from students. Students also miss richer opportunities for engagement with instructors, and campus has work to do in both of these areas. In pursuing solutions to these issues, we need to be aware of the needs of both students and instructors to balance the time and effort needed with this level of engagement along with the well being of all concerned. Vice Provost Zumbrunnen, along with Vice Provost Steve Cramer and the Instructional Continuity team, are working on messaging to instructors about this, as well as working on professional development resources on interaction in the classroom. There was also a small grant program rolled out to incentivize instructors or departments to facilitate improvements in this area. The call went out earlier in the week and there are already more than 30 proposals submitted. Related to these topics are the challenges around synchronous learning. Students are split on their preferences between synchronous and asynchronous courses. The course schedule has been built so that students will be able to search whether a course is synchronous or not, which can help them choose the delivery modes that they prefer. There will also be messaging to instructors about the need for direct interaction even in asynchronous courses, along with the need to be conscientious of students in other time zones when teaching synchronous courses.
On the topic of pronoun usage, the decision has been made to turn on this capability in Canvas starting in the spring. The target date is mid-January. Additional technical options will be explored during the spring semester, and a communications plan is in the works for January. Vice Provost Zumbrunnen is also working with the Registrar’s Office and Student Affairs on a set of guidelines around these, and he will be coming back to this group and others for feedback.
With regard to Honorlock, they are getting messages out to instructors and students before finals week that will include checklists for students, technical support resources, and other things that need to be done to position students for success. Vice Provost Zumbrunnen and Mo Bischof met with ASM, Gabe Javier, and Christina Olstad to hear concerns on the use of Honorlock and discussed how to address these concerns. Use of Honorlock also poses a larger question about the extent to which approaches and technologies that have been used during the pandemic will continue to be used once a vaccine is widely available.
Meeting adjourned at 4:39 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff