Academic Staff Executive Committee Minutes 03-26-20
1:55 – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, 2020
Donna Cole, Jenny Dahlberg; Tim Dalby, chair; Stephanie Elkins; Mallory Musolf; Leslie Petty; Deb Shapiro; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron; Bill Tishler
Guests: Michael Bernard-Donals, Denny Hackel, Laurent Heller, John Horn, Alyson Kim, Karl Scholz
The meeting was called to order at 1:57 p.m.
The minutes of March 19, 2020 were approved with one correction.
Guest: Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
Vice Chancellor Heller started out by saying the COVID-19 situation is very trying, and that he was very impressed with and felt lucky to have such a great team working on these issues. While there have been partial activations in the past, this is the first time that the campus Emergency Operations Center has been fully activated. A main focus has been University Housing and their residence hall and dining facilities. The number of students in the dorms has been reduced from 8,000 to around 600. Some people are unable to return home. The university will continue to house those individuals, and they will be further consolidated into fewer buildings. The campus EOC is in close contact with the state EOC, and they have been working on clearing out some buildings to help out first responders and other essential services.
The focus has been on health and safety, but they have been looking at budgetary impacts as well. The Budget Office is working on several scenarios. Housing and dining fees have been refunded, and parking fees will not be collected during this time, or will be refunded as needed. There are many impacts to the auxiliaries. Campus has been firm on guidance with respect to the Safer-at-Home Order. Usage of campus facilities has been greatly reduced, with the vast majority being closed and locked. Vice Chancellor Heller reiterated that, for safety reasons, only essential employees should come into campus.
Hiring for non-essential positions has been suspended, but hiring may continue for positions that had already been posted. HR is working on remote onboarding. Eighty hours of leave have been offered to any employee impacted by COVID-19. They are also evaluating new federal legislation and other possible impacts that may stem from that.
Guest: Karl Scholz, Provost
Provost Scholz addressed the potential impacts from internet outages interfering with coursework. He emphasized the importance of asynchronous course delivery as the primary strategy during this time. Colleagues at DoIT are working hard to monitor platforms and staff up help lines. With 12 days notice and nearly 9000 sections to be ported into an alternative format, we have ported 99.9% of those courses, and now we can pivot to greater focus on the student experience in this alternative delivery system. In response to a question about the impact of negative student evaluations, Provost Scholz stressed that teaching evaluations should only be one part of an instructor’s overall evaluation for promotion. We should be understanding of the situation, but we also want student feedback on the experience.
On the topic of how much autonomy instructors have on whether and how their courses proceed, the instructor does not have complete autonomy. Entry level courses are department assets, and curriculum should be handled at the department level. Best practices should be shared as they arise. With regard to clinical courses, some have been postponed, while others have been creatively redesigned. This is a huge issue in the health sciences as well as the School of Education. There has also been creative redesign of courses in the fine arts.
On the question of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff serving as a voice for emeritus faculty and staff, Provost Scholz indicated that given the workload of that position, it is a question as to how much time there would be for this. Provost Scholz concluded by reiterating the outstanding nature of the university community coming together to work through this crisis.
Guests: Carole Kolb, Administrative Search Coordinator; Adam Kindschy, Special Assistant, Chancellor’s Office; Matt Mayrl, Chief of Staff, Chancellor’s Office (Recording of Search and Screen Presentations)
The recent move to no longer record presentations for finalists in search and screen processes emerged out of a project looking at best practices in administrative search processes with peers to make sure we remain competitive. Many of our peers do not record these presentations, as they can put candidates in awkward positions with their home institutions. This has caused the loss of candidates in several UW-Madison searches. The search process is meant to vet candidates, but it is also meant to recruit them, and we want to mitigate exposure for unsuccessful candidates. Limiting the availability of candidate materials to a specific amount of time is also part of this process. The Chancellor charged Carole and Adam with benchmarking our peers, and only about 10% of large public universities are still recording these presentations. During the current situation with COVID-19, live streaming will be done. This was already planned with the Dean of Extension search, since the stakeholders for that position are spread throughout the state. There will be some means of delivering video presentations for other positions, and the candidates understand that this is a special situation. For in person presentations, individuals who are not able to attend are encouraged to send delegates to ask questions on their behalf.
Jenny Dahlberg reported that the search and screen committee for the Secretary of the Academic Staff had its first meeting. The deadline for applications has been extended to April 12.
Bill Tishler reported that the committee to look at campus usage of Box has been postponed indefinitely, and the Policy Library Working Group has also been postponed until the end of April. One of the main discussion topics at the University Committee meeting on March 23 was around tenure clock extensions.
Guest: Michael Bernard-Donals, Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff
Vice Provost Bernard-Donals reported that the working group met on March 25 for possibly the last time. The group feels it has addressed the need to have clear distinction between the three ranks and clarifications around the thresholds for achieving those ranks. He also talked about the issue of tenure clock extension, which came up in discussions with his colleagues in the Big 10. All faculty, including CHS and clinical track faculty, will have the opportunity to extend their tenure clock. Because it is slightly different for CHS/clinical faculty, deans and chairs have been asked to replicate the process of tenure clock extension for those tracks. The expectation is that those extensions will be granted as needed. They are not expecting much in the way of logistical problems, and this will be a way to relieve concerns of probationary faculty in these areas. The extension will be for up to 1 year. This is not a blanket extension. It applies to anyone whose mandatory review date is after December 31, 2020. People who are in a review process right now are not covered by this, though there is language that says that if the review date is before 12/31/20 and an individual thinks they should be covered, that the individual should apply.
Vice Provost Bernard-Donals also reported on the recent virtual chat with remote employees. The consistent thread to the conversation was a hunger for greater inclusion and more professional development opportunities. He will be talking with Mark Walters about brainstorming ways to make Learning and Talent Development courses more available to those employees. He also asked ASEC about any issues related to COVID-19. ASEC offered a shout-out to DoIT for all their support during this time and stated that HR had done a great job with setting up the leave bank. There is a concern about long-term solutions and recovery of some programs, including the question of possible layoffs down the line. Concerns also include childcare for essential staff, what to do when running out of cleaning products, and consideration for essential employees extending their own educational programs through fall semester if they aren’t able to complete them in the spring.
Tim Dalby, ASEC chair, reiterated what Vice Chancellor Heller said with respect to building management and added that the plan was to have only 37 buildings open eventually. Essential research is still being clarified. Conversations around summer term as well as pass/fail grading are also in process. He has also requested strengthening language around flexibility for employees with child care needs in future communications.
Jake Smith, Interim Secretary of the Academic Staff, reported that the elections for standing committees will go forward as planned and will be announced sometime in the next week. He also reported that he, Heather Daniels, and staff in the Secretary of the Faculty Office have conducted further testing in order to find the right platform to test a virtual Assembly meeting. He is also working to determine how the delay in TTC will impact the new districting rules, and this will come forward for discussion at a future meeting.
• April Assembly Agenda
ASEC will conduct a test run early next week and determine whether to go forward at its April 2 meeting.
• Topics for Guests
OHR – salary administration guidelines, update on teaching faculty title, long-term solution for 80-hour leave bank, potential impacts of COVID-19 on probationary periods for staff
Meeting adjourned at 4:39 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Interim Secretary of the Academic Staff