DOF Covid-19 Policies

Updated April 17, 2020 at 4:01 pm

April 17: Student Summer Research

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your patience as we have worked to reimagine summer research in a period of unprecedented uncertainty. In light of the ongoing global health crisis and uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out over the coming weeks and months, I write to confirm that we are not in a position to offer a residential experience to student researchers this summer.  

As you have no doubt seen, the Bates Dance Festival, Gordon Conferences, and athletic camps have also been canceled for 2020. Dining services will therefore not be available for the summer, and on-campus housing will be unavailable to all but a very limited number of students who must remain on-campus because of international travel issues or other extenuating circumstances.  

Nevertheless, student summer research is critical to our mission as an academic institution, facilitating scholarship and creative work by our faculty and offering important experiences to our students. After considerable deliberation among the dean’s office, senior staff, and many faculty, and after consultation with colleagues at many of our peer institutions, we have made several decisions regarding student summer research. These changes are a consequence of COVID-19, and will require recalibration of important aspects of faculty-student collaboration this summer.

  • Regardless of funding source, we will not have a summer research program for students on campus this summer. Students who are currently housed on campus may be eligible to work on campus if social distancing plans can be developed and approved.
  • Regardless of funding source, we will have a summer research program for students who can work remotely on projects.
  • Due to shifts in the availability of summer research funds, we have made changes to the allocation process for summer funding. Our objective is to equitably distribute opportunities. To that end:
    • We ask faculty who have been awarded college funds that include hiring students to submit updated information on remote research plans. 
    • The Faculty Scholarship Committee will review revised plans, assess available resources, and determine funding by mid-May.

The college’s decision about summer research with students may have an impact on your work and grant-related requirements. This change also may affect student scholarship, including pre-thesis work. This was a difficult decision, but the only prudent and practical one given ongoing restrictions on in-person activities on residential college campuses. Furthermore, given the ongoing financial impact of the COVID-19 situation, there will be pressure across the college to use unrestricted funds, including those typically earmarked for summer research, to address financial shortfalls. 

For faculty members planning to engage students in their research this summer, here are the parameters:

  • If you have an external grant to employ one or more students in research, and if that work can be done remotely, you are encouraged to proceed. Please inform Kerry O’Brien ( who they are so that we can confirm that they can work remotely (some restrictions apply for graduating seniors and international students).
  • If you have already received funding through the Dean of the Faculty’s Office to support students in your research, and if that work can be accomplished remotely, we ask you to submit a revised project description, timetable, and budget, using this webform. All revisions must be submitted online by May 1. Based on the response and the amount of funding we have available, we will determine the recipients of remote summer funding. We will try to fund as many remote projects as we possibly can, being mindful of who has access to these opportunities.

Important details to note:

  • Faculty and staff may continue to work on campus in accordance with the rules of social distancing.
  • Students who are housed on campus during the summer because they cannot go home may be eligible to conduct research on campus provided social distancing plans can be developed and approved.
  • Current international students, however, may face restrictions on whether they can work in the United States.
  • Due to visa restrictions, graduating international students cannot work on campus this summer. 

If you have any questions about student summer research in 2020, please contact Kerry O’Brien ( 

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We stand ready to assist in all the ways we can.

All the best,

Update on Short Term 2020 for Faculty

Subject: Update on Short Term 2020

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

President Spencer’s letter of March 13th indicated that we did not plan to reconvene the college for an on-campus Short Term in May. While this remains true, we do have a small number of seniors who need to complete degree requirements during Short Term. After much deliberation, and discussions with the Academic Affairs Council, the Academic Standing Committee, and department and program chairs — who were particularly wise and insightful on this issue — we have determined that we will offer only those courses that students need to graduate, and these courses will be offered remotely. 

A letter was sent to students this morning (copied below), which outlines our approaches to students who require Short Term courses this spring. These students fall into two categories: those who simply need to complete a second Short Term to graduate, and those whose majors, minors, GECs, or SLQ requirements are incomplete. Margaret Imber, Áslaug Ásgeirsdóttir, and Carl Steidel are communicating with these students. The outcomes of their conversations will help us to determine how many courses must be offered in Short Term 2020, and how they can be best targeted to meet specific curricular needs. We may also need to provide options for students to work individually with certain faculty on an independent study basis in lieu of a formal Short Term course. 

Once we understand students’ needs and intentions (by the end of this week), we will reach out individually to faculty as we develop plans to work with this small group of students. We will turn first to faculty who were already scheduled to teach in Short Term 2020.

I appreciate your patience as we work through this process. Because the decision to limit Short Term was forced on the college by extraordinary global circumstances, we want to assure faculty whose Short Term courses will not be taught this spring that there will be no change to their current compensation. While we cannot predict the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on future enrollment patterns, it is possible that we will ask faculty who cannot fulfill their teaching obligations in Short Term 2020 to help us resolve possible enrollment issues over the next two to three years.

While the loss of students and faculty engaged in challenging and creative work together on our campus during Short Term is profound, we believe the approach to deal with individual student needs is the only practical path forward.

My continued thanks to you as you work diligently on the task immediately at hand. I am so grateful for your efforts, and for the way the whole community has stepped up to make the best of a challenging situation.

Malcolm Hill
Dean of the Faculty

Personnel review delay option

Dear Colleagues,

COVID-19 has affected many aspects of our professional lives, and faculty are understandably concerned about the effects this global disruption may have on their ability to build the dossiers that will be reviewed by the Committee on Personnel (COP). The COP understands that scholarly or creative projects may be on hold, and that an ability to build evidence of teaching for the Winter 2020 semester and Short Term 2020 may be curtailed. Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 situation, the COP convened to discuss the question of schedules of review. The consensus of the group, with support from the dean of faculty and president, was to allow faculty the option of extending their tenure clock by one year if they so desire. The COP agreed that any decision to delay would have no bearing on the review – indeed, all colleagues understood the extraordinary historical moment we find ourselves in. The COP was also in agreement that this delay did not signal any expectation of additional work. The option to delay is meant to be a clear statement of support for colleagues who might have had their professional planning disrupted by COVID-19. It is important to emphasize that there is no expectation that individuals choose to delay their scheduled reviews. There is also no consequence to accepting a delay of the scheduled review.

Malcolm Hill
Dean of the Faculty

Continued Use of Letter Grades


Temporary Modification of Grading Mode: Winter 2020 Semester

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pass/fail option articulated in the course catalogue will be modified for students enrolled in the Winter 2020 semester. Any course taken in the Winter 2020 semester may be taken pass/fail at the discretion of the student. The following conditions apply:

  1. Students may designate pass/fail grading for any Winter 2020 semester course, including either a one-semester winter thesis or the winter semester of a two-semester thesis, until May 5, 2020 at 5 pm EDT. If a Fall 2019 semester thesis grade was deferred for an ongoing two-semester thesis, the fall semester grade assigned at the end of Winter 2020 semester would not convert to pass/fail, even if a student elects to take the winter semester thesis pass/fail.
  2. Faculty members submit a regular letter grade (A, B, C, D, F) to the registrar. A grade of D-minus or above is considered a passing grade. Unless the student chooses to inform the instructor, only the student, the student’s advisor, and the registrar know the grading mode for the course. 
  3. For courses taken in the Winter 2020 semester, any pass/fail restrictions on major, minor, general education, or BS requirements are waived. Courses taken pass/fail are not computed in the student’s grade point average. A pass is equivalent to two quality points.

Student Evaluations

Upon the advice of the Committee on Teaching and Learning, the Academic Affairs Council, and Committee on Personnel, we have adopted the following policy on student evaluations of this semester’s teaching. Students will complete course evaluations as usual at the end of the semester. You may choose to use this semester’s evaluations as evidence of teaching excellence. However, you may also choose to omit Winter 2020 evaluations from your future dossiers. The Committee on Personnel has agreed that it will not expect them in dossiers and will not view the absence of these evaluations in a negative way.

Student Summer Research

We are working on the assumption that the summer research season will proceed as planned, starting June 1, barring any further delays due to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Summer student researchers may not conduct research on campus before June 1, 2020.

Internal Faculty Funds and Deadlines

We will continue to award funding via internal grant programs for faculty through the remainder of the academic year. Because the semester will now end in May, we have extended timelines for existing internal grants, and changed future deadlines.

Áslaug Ásgeirsdóttir, and the Faculty Scholarship Committee, have been working with faculty with existing BFDF grants to extend the deadlines when needed. Our office has unilaterally extended the deadline for faculty to use their start-up funds by twelve months. 

Extended Grant Deadlines for Faculty
5/8/20: Bates Faculty Development Fund; First Book Award
5/8/20: Learning Associates for 2020-21

All other remaining grant program deadlines will remain the same.