School of Arts and Sciences Newsletter: July 29, 2020
A Note From the DeanDear Colleagues,
I hope that you have indeed found some time to rest and recover, even as we gear up for the fall semester. I know many of you are eager for news about the status of the admissions, the campus, enrollments, etc – for now I encourage you to review the current status of enrollments on the Registrar’s website. The situation is ever-changing and much – like surges in other states – is outside of our control. I am proud of the hard work that all of you – and many other people across campus – have done to prepare for the fall and honored to work for a Provost and President who have been cautious, compassionate, and as transparent as possible about our challenges and the pathway forward.
Updates and Resources
Preliminary “Conversations” About a School of Arts and Sciences Anti-Racism Action Plan
In response to President Liebowitz’s call for every unit to prepare and submit an action plan to address systemic racism by September 1st, 2020, but in recognition that everyone is exhausted and there has been no time or bandwidth this summer to “ensure broad input from diverse constituencies,” I have decided to hold a series of small “conversations” over the next few weeks with interested faculty to listen to and learn from their ideas, suggestions, and concerns. I will then draw on these ideas and other resources (like recommendations made by the subcommittee “Honoring Our Founding Values” chaired by Chad Williams) to work with my senior leadership team to draft a plan for a plan – an overview of what we have achieved, a deliberative process and timeline for widespread consultation and discussion in the fall term, and a menu of possible options, recommendations, metrics to consider – and supplement or revise as we think together about our way forward. To this end, I will be reaching out to some faculty members this week, but I also invite you to email me if you are interested in participating in one of these initial conversations – and know there will be future opportunities for dialogue in the fall.
School of Arts & Sciences Co-Curricular Fund
The next deadline for application to the School of Arts & Sciences Co-Curricular Fund (which replaced the former Public Lectures Fund) is August 15, 2020. For 2020-2021, priority will be given to virtual events, performances, and speakers that can contribute to our understanding of structural racism and development and implementation of anti-racist initiatives. Given the pandemic and current limits on in person gatherings and in person classes, we have adjusted our guidelines for the fall (and likely the spring): ALL requests for Fall 2020 must support virtual activities. No funds will be disbursed for field trips, food, travel or lodging. We encourage you to be creative in imagining virtual activities inside and outside of class to strengthen faculty- student interactions. There are three deadlines this year: August 15, 2020, October 1, 2020 and February 15, 2021. To apply, complete the application form on the website.
Policy on Travel
According to Provost Lynch, the policy of March 9 for international travel remains in effect for Brandeis University. If someone must conduct personal international travel they should fill out this form. For personal domestic travel, effective August 1, all individuals entering Massachusetts must complete and submit the on-line Massachusetts Travel Form unless the individual meets one of several exemptions including the following:
- Arriving from a Lower-risk State: This includes individuals coming from a COVID-19 lower-risk state within the United States. At the moment this includes Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Please note that this list is subject to change.
- Persons Commuting for Work or School: People who regularly commute, at least weekly, outside of Massachusetts.
If you do not meet one of these exemptions you will need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Massachusetts. However, you do not need to quarantine for 14 days if you took an FDA EUA-approved molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test, on a sample obtained 72 hours or less prior to arrival in Massachusetts and have received a negative test.
New Faculty Support Structures and Contact Information for Online Teaching
The Library, Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and Instructional Technology Services (ITS) have collaborated to develop a streamlined set of intake support emails, differentiating between the primary types of support needed:
- technology (firstname.lastname@example.org),
- pedagogy (CTL@brandeis.edu), and
- research/online technology strategies/library services (email@example.com).
The Faculty Support Services document outlines the types of support provided by each of these areas and the full announcement can be found on the ITS website.
Optional “Student Centered” Latte Course Shell
In the Hybrid Teaching Institute sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning this summer, a new "student-centered" accessible shell in LATTE ("Shell-A") was presented. Use of this shell is optional. If you decide to use this shell, you may use it in whole or in part—it is flexible and can be edited. You can review its new features here: "student-centered" accessible shell in LATTE ("Shell-A"). A tutorial to assist faculty in adding Shell-A elements to their courses will be added to the Learn LATTE course by July 29. Digital Assistants and CTL Graduate Assistants are also being trained to load this shell through new workshops.
Course Building Support in LATTE
Two sets of resources have been developed to support you in your efforts to build your fall LATTE sites:
Digital Assistants. DA's are coordinated through Elaine and Alyssa for A&S. They will assist in building your LATTE course sites, including any Shell-A elements you would like to incorporate. To request DA help, complete the Digital Assistant Request Form by August 2. All DA work must be completed by August 18.
CTL Graduate Assistants. CTL GA's are coordinated through Mary-Ann in the CTL. They will assist in incorporating Shell-A elements and/or assist in making course materials accessible. To request CTL GA help, complete the CTL Graduate Assistant Request Form.
New Health and Safety Sentences for Fall Course Syllabi
As part of our effort to ensure compliance with university health protocols, faculty who are teaching in-person or hybrid courses are asked to include the following sentences in syllabi:
All students in this class are required to observe the university's policies on physical distancing and mask-wearing to support the health and safety of all classroom participants. Face coverings must be worn by all students and instructors in classes with in-person meetings. Students and faculty must also maintain the appropriate 6 feet of physical distance from one another when entering, exiting, or being in the classroom and continue to sit in seats assigned by the professor to assist the university in its contract-tracing efforts. All faculty and students must also clean their work areas before and after each class session, using the sanitizing wipes provided by the University. (All classrooms will also be professionally cleaned by Brandeis custodial staff multiple times per day.)
Importance of Providing Substantial Mid-term Feedback to Students this Fall
This fall, the university will be returning to established grading policies that no longer include spring 2020 pandemic-related options. All faculty are reminded of the importance of providing substantial mid-term feedback to students before the October 8th drop deadline for undergraduates and the November 5th "drop with a W" deadline. As per usual, the Office of the University Registrar will ask faculty to report mid-term grades related to unsatisfactory performance or non-attendance. These grades will be shared with Academic Services advisors who will contact and advise undergraduates experiencing academic difficulties, but instructors are also asked to reach out to these students directly and to have returned graded work to all students to help them understand your assessment of their academic performance before drop deadlines.
Internships, Field Trips, and other Off Campus Trips
Given current efforts to restrict student movements, and the fact that many students will be studying remotely, we cannot approve any off-campus internships, field trips, or other university-sponsored activities that require students to go off campus. As such, we encourage department and programs who encourage or require internships as part of their major or minor to develop virtual versions, advise students (where possible) to delay that component of their curriculum, or approve an alternative. Provost Lynch has made clear that the only off campus placements that will be approved are those that are mandatory for professional licensing or credentials – such as in genetic counseling.
University Writing Center: Virtual Consultations and Workshops
The University Writing Center will open for virtual consultations and workshops for Fall 2020 on Monday, August 31. The Center offers two modes of individual consultation: face-to-face over Zoom and an e-Tutoring document drop for asynchronous writing support. Workshops on a variety of writing topics will also be hosted virtually. Writing Center support is available to all members of the Brandeis community. For more information, please visit the Writing Center website.
The university is an institutional member of The Conversation, a daily online news outlet that publishes informed news analysis and commentary. Stories focus on what they call “explanatory journalism” which aims to illuminate events in the news with academics’ expertise or introduce new ideas and research. Recent pieces by Joel Christensen, Tom Doherty and Anita Hanning have received significant national news coverage. Review their Writing Guide and pitch an article here. The university receives a weekly list of stories ideas from The Conversation which they need authors to write. If you would like to be contacted about stories that fit your areas of expertise please complete this form.
Updates from Student Accessibility Support (SAS)
Academic Services is pleased to welcome Scott Kalicki, PhD, as Interim Director of Student Accessibility Support (SAS) to provide immediate leadership support. Scott joins us with 35+ years of Higher Education experience as a Student Affairs Administrator and Educator. In previous positions, he has served as a Coordinator of Disabled Student Services and a 504 Coordinator. During these challenging times of the pandemic, the SAS team has been actively working to serve the needs of our students and support them with the transition to online learning, as well as working with faculty to ensure that students’ accommodations are being implemented. Over the summer, SAS is continuing to meet with incoming first-year students as well as with returning students over Zoom to discuss accommodations and supports in place for the upcoming fall semester. You are welcome to reach out to an SAS staff member at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To build community among undergraduate researchers and creative scholars, in Summer 2020 the Undergraduate Research and Creative Collaborations Office (URCC) held a series of weekly Zoom events open to all Brandeis undergraduates. Events included Faculty Chats by Professors Alejandro Trelles, Politics; Angela Gutchess, Psychology; Alexandra Ratzlaff, Classics; and Sarah Lamb, Anthropology; as well as an Academic Fellowships presentation by Meredith Monaghan and two Undergraduate Researchers Connect events, which provided times for students to discuss their research informally and share time management and productivity tips. We are planning more events for the upcoming Academic Year. Please contact Margaret Lynch, Director of Undergraduate-Faculty Research Partnerships, with your questions and suggestions.
Selected Faculty Achievements
Neil Swidey (Journalism), was awarded the Society of Professional Journalists' 2019 Sigma Delta Chi Award for magazine investigative reporting.
Several faculty have received major grants in recent weeks. They include:
- Wendy Cadge (Sociology and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies), Henry Luce Foundation
- Seth Fraden (Physics), National Science Foundation
- Daniel Oprian (Biochemistry), National Institutes of Health
- Hao Xu (Chemistry) Chemistry, National Institutes of Health
Upcoming Dates & Deadlines
August 2: Deadline to Request a Digital Assistant
August 15: Deadline for the SAS Co-Curricular fund
August 25, 8pm: New Student Book Forum