Dear Faculty and Staff,
As we all work to respond to the rapid changes that our scholarly community is experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to thank you personally and express our collective understanding and appreciation of the commitment to our shared values and mission that each of you is demonstrating.
Yesterday, USM Chancellor Jay Perman emphasized that as a public university we have an important role in supporting the public good every day, but most especially in times of crisis such as we are experiencing now. He shares our belief that we must do everything we can to support our students as they work to complete their studies.
I want to reassure you that we have multiple teams working diligently on key academic issues that impact both our students and faculty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues are being continuously identified, and to the extent possible, we are engaging in consultation to develop actions and guidance that can be communicated to you and the campus community as rapidly as possible. We recognize the need to mitigate these circumstances in a well-considered and orderly but prompt manner.
There are too many areas of concern to mention here today but issues currently under consideration include:
Questions, issues, and proposals related to academic policy and academic deadlines aimed at supporting the completion and progression of our undergraduate and graduate students. These include such important subjects as financial aid and continuous enrollment.
Concerns and guidance related to contract renewals, promotion and tenure processes, and teaching evaluation in the light of the disruption caused by the current situation. We are planning for the promotion and tenure processes for faculty and librarians undergoing review this academic year to be completed on schedule and are drafting guidelines for those undertaking the process next year.
We will continue to consult with deans, chairs, and faculty shared governance on these matters, understanding that many decisions need to be made with considerable urgency and at a more rapid place than normal. In this regard, I am enormously grateful for the leadership and counsel of our Provost’s Office team, deans, department chairs, center directors, and officers of shared governance.
Finally, I ask you to continue your outstanding support to colleagues and to continue to communicate frequently with your students who are looking for reassurance as they face this major change to everything they have experienced previously in our academic setting.
I have no doubt we will all get through this challenge as we always have, although each of us will be challenged in new ways and will experience times of uncertainty. We will get through this unparalleled time by supporting each other, not as an institution or a pile of bricks and mortar, but as a community—a community that cares deeply about each other and our students.
Provost Philip Rous