While the College awaits word on reaffirmation of institutional accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, to be received by the end of June, we have the opportunity to reflect on the oral exit report of the Visit Team Chair. As part of that report, we were encouraged to ask what lessons we have been learning from our work during the pandemic that can guide us in the future. We will not hear until the end of June whether the Middle States Commission will request any post-decision follow up actions on our part, such as a progress report or monitoring report. However, as many of us do, by plan or practice at the end of an academic year, I trust that individually and collectively we will continue to ask what pandemic lessons we are learning that can fuel continued improvement and innovation.
Response to Call for Comments - SUNY General Education Advisory Committee (GEAC) Report
Thank you to all who provided input so that we at New Paltz could make good use of the recent opportunity to comment on the SUNY General Education Advisory Committee’s (GEAC) proposed revisions to the SUNY General Education program. Although the time was relatively short, Associate Provost Laurel Garrick Duhaney developed and led an inclusive campus process to solicit comments on the proposal. We distributed the GEAC report to the campus community and to particular groups that are directly involved or are impacted by general education, including: the GE Board, which hosted a campus-wide forum to gather feedback on the proposal, the Curriculum Committee, Chairs, Deans and Associate Deans, and Academic Advising and Student Success. We also emailed the GEAC report to the SUNY New Paltz Student Association President and its Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance. In addition, we invited the campus to submit feedback to the Associate Provost.
Feedback we gathered from campus constituents was compiled and submitted to SUNY. The report indicated that the campus supports certain aspects of the proposal and has concerns about other facets. Building upon the proposal’s brief mention of sustainability, we suggested some ways that sustainability could be addressed more explicitly in the proposed GE framework. We remain optimistic that GEAC and SUNY will give strong consideration to our comments and that our feedback will help to further strengthen the GE proposal. Again, thank you to all who prioritized providing feedback despite this being such a busy time of the academic year.
Tenure Clock Extension Now Also Applies to Faculty Hired May 6, 2020 - June 30, 2021
Background: The April 2020 SUNY-UUP MOU
To recognize COVID-19 pandemic impacts on faculty career advancement, the SUNY-UUP MOU created in April 2020 addressed two factors: time to tenure review and materials presented for review. The MOU provides an automatic one-year tenure clock extension that applies to faculty
- serving in a position of academic rank as of May 6, 2020
- not having attained continuing appointment/tenure
- not then under review for continuing appointment
The materials review provision gives all faculty the option of not including in any subsequent reviews whether for reappointment, tenure, or promotion, their spring 2020
- student evaluations of instruction (SEIs)
- peer teaching observations
- curricular materials
In addition, the MOU encourages faculty to include, in appropriate narrative portions of their dossiers during future reviews, statements of COVID-19 impacts on their research, scholarship, or creative activities as well as on teaching.
Finally, the tenure clock extension is automatic for all eligible faculty. However, faculty may opt out, that is, pursue continuing appointment without the one-year tenure clock extension. The decision to opt out or not is to be made in the year in which the faculty member is scheduled for review for continuing appointment/tenure. Specifics of how SUNY New Paltz implements the April 2020 SUNY-UUP MOU are detailed in an August 2020 campus communication found here.
New: One-year Tenure Clock Extension for Faculty Hired May 6, 2020 - June 30, 2021
Recently, the SUNY Board of Trustees amended the tenure clock provision of the April 2020 SUNY-UUP MOU so that it now applies not only to faculty serving as of May 6, 2020, but also to a new cohort of faculty. As announced to the campus on April 9, tenure-line faculty hired between May 6, 2020, and June 30, 2021, now also have an automatic one-year extension of the time to continuing appointment/tenure. The faculty member exercises the opt out provision, if desired, in the year of the scheduled review for continuing appointment. For more detailed information on how the tenure clock extension works, please see the April 14, 2021, message to the faculty found here.
Fall Planning and Faculty Certification for Instances of Remote Modality Instruction
We continue with plans for an in-person fall experience, as shared in a recent campus community update found here. Fall plans include returning to a primarily seated schedule of classes. More than 90% (over 1,500) of our courses are to be in-person or hybrid. For those limited instances in the fall whereby, for programmatic or documented health and safety reasons, faculty may be teaching online or hybrid courses, faculty must first be certified to teach in remote modalities.
With this expectation, we are returning to our pre-pandemic requirement that faculty who are offering remote or hybrid courses must be certified to teach in remote modalities. With the return to this policy, however, we are also offering faculty not already certified the opportunity to achieve provisional certification in one of two ways. Please see earlier spring guidance on certification options for online teaching which can be found here.
As a reminder, faculty must have established full or provisional certification by June 15 in order to teach remotely in the fall 2021 semester.
Call for 2021-2022 Mentor Teachers/Peer Instructional Designers
Recently, the Offices of the Provost, Graduate & Extended Learning, and Instructional Technology, together with the Faculty Senate Committee on Educational Technology, issued a call for nominations and applications for our 2021-22 Mentor Teacher Program. The goal of the program is to provide faculty support from their peers to develop expertise in the design, development, and delivery of online, hybrid, and blended courses. The call for Teacher Mentors found here details eligibility and selection criteria, the stipend, and expectations. Please apply or forward nominations of colleagues by Friday, May 7.
News of faculty accomplishments often appears in the Daily Digest. You will also find recent recognitions of faculty and staff accomplishments at the following link: https://sites.newpaltz.edu/news/category/research/. Please do not hesitate to submit news of your awards and honors, publications/creative works, or other recognitions of your accomplishments to the Office of Communication & Marketing.
At this juncture in the academic year, we also recognize our students and the quality of their work through an array of culminating presentations. It is always energizing and uplifting when I am able to witness students’ impressive performance. This year almost all of these opportunities can be accessed virtually. I hope that you have been able to sample the culminating work not only of your own or your programs’ students, but of students across the disciplines. Some of these awesome events are behind us, though as of this writing, it is still possible to take in the Student Research Symposium and Honors Program Thesis/Project Presentations, as well as BFA and MFA Thesis exhibitions.
1 - Requesting Academic Faculty Volunteers at Commencement
The College continues to need volunteer marshals to support the smaller, shorter, in-person Commencement ceremonies set for May 14-16 for 2021 graduates and May 22-23 for 2020 graduates. Though a number of staff have signed up, many opportunities remain for academic faculty to participate as marshals in socially distant and outdoor roles. To honor participating graduates, I encourage you to use this link to volunteer for one or more back-to-back shifts during our two Commencement weekends. Please use your my.newpaltz.edu credentials to access the sign-up sheet.
Even though these commencement ceremonies will be very circumscribed, we need you. For example, faculty and staff will not be seated on Old Main Quad, as part of our reorganization to limit capacity at these in-person events. However, I encourage you to volunteer in service of the campus community and to help celebrate our graduates.
The ceremony schedule is organized by majors and academic schools to the extent possible, so that students can walk with their friends and classmates. Our schedule, which includes information about which schools will be recognized during which ceremonies, can be viewed in the volunteer registration form at the link above. This will allow you to volunteer at times when your majors are most prevalent at the ceremony.
This week, department chairs will be receiving and circulating an even more detailed Commencement schedule that includes your school’s majors per ceremony for both Commencement weekends. However, we ask that chairs and other departmental faculty please not share these details with students, as they received specific ceremony assignments that cannot be changed. These measures are necessary so that we can contain ceremony attendance within acceptable limits for safety purposes.
Thank you for considering this opportunity to volunteer as a marshal and celebrate our wonderful and resilient graduates. More information about our 2021 Commencement ceremonies is available here.
2 - Appeal to Faculty Advisors - Continuing Student Registration for Fall
With the advance registration window having closed, all continuing students are now eligible to register for fall classes. A larger population of students than we would expect have not yet registered, and so I encourage faculty advisors to reach out to their advisees who have not yet been cleared for registration to encourage timely advising meetings. Ensuring a strong fall enrollment is at the top of our institutional priorities, and we appreciate the critical role our faculty play in guiding our students to registration.
As always, my deep appreciation goes out to the dedicated academic and professional faculty of New Paltz for your demonstration of unwavering commitment to the success of our students. In closing, I express my hopes that the summer months provide occasional relief from pandemic concerns and complications. Though steep challenges lie ahead, I very much look forward to working with faculty and staff colleagues of SUNY New Paltz in the coming academic year.
With best regards,
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs