Spring 2020 Faculty Town Hall Questions


June 17 Town Hall

General Concerns

In the Monday, June 8, special faculty meeting, it was mentioned that the resolution proposed as amendment(s) did not “belong” because of its vague language or issues with assessing how the provisions in the amendment(s) would be adequately addressed, etc. What is/are the correct channel(s), or the correct procedure(s), for proposing such a resolution?
Received 6/16/20

Amherst is exploring a voluntary early retirement program in response to the specific covid 19 situation. Has Bates considered that? If not why not?
Received 6/14/20

I am reading that Tufts plans to “increase the endowment payout” next year. If Tufts can do that, why can’t Bates?
Received 6/14/20

I have heard that all the members of one large department will teach remotely even if students are on campus. How will the DoF deal with that? At an earlier meeting, no assurance was offered that anyone who wants to teach remotely would be able to and that if students were on campus they would expect to be taught in person. That suggests there will be financial pressure for the college to push faculty to teach in person.
Received 6/14/20

Public Health

How will the 14 day quarantine pair with student phasing as they come to campus?
(Asked 6/17/20)

Regarding the Maine-only travel policy, has a decision been made about athletics then? It seems important that athletes not have a different set of rules than non athletes?
(Asked 6/17/20)

On the issue of PPE and masks as a community responsibility: How will the college get to universal mask wearing?
(Asked 6/17/20)

Are face shields going to be part of our approach to PPE? They will be important in some teaching spaces and may increase compliance?
(Asked 6/17/20)

Who is going to be needed on campus? When is a policy going to come out vis a vis faculty and staff?
(Asked 6/17/20)

What kind of plans has the college made for faculty who get sick during the fall. I am speaking in terms of  concern about the person. What is the commitment on the part of the college to the people getting sick?
(Asked 6/17/20)

What level of community transmission nationally and locally will be acceptable? For instance, if community transmission is high in Florida and Arizona but low in Maine, will we still open?
Received 6/12/20

What percent of campus needs to be positive in order to go remote?
Received 6/12/20

If one person in a class tests positive, I assume that the entire class and the instructor quarantine for 2 weeks?
Received 6/12/20

Fall Teaching and Resources for Faculty Development

With zooming and other forms of on line interaction, are FERPA guidelines clear as to what is permissible and what is not? I have a brother teaching in Florida, and the state system there (I believe it was the state and not his county) restricted use of certain applications, saying that in no instance should teachers have visual access to their students and the setting in which the students were working. Have colleges and universities been on safe legal grounds this spring/winter? Is there any need to reconsider zooming and others?
Received 5/13/20
(Asked 6/17/20)

Regarding faculty development resources for faculty: we receive an unwieldy amount of email. Is there any discussion about having ways we can reduce the duplication of effort and be efficient?
(Asked 6/17/20)

Can CRC and the library provide a list of already existing software/programs/resources available to Bates Faculty with a brief overview of what the resource is for and/or how it might be implemented in an online teaching environment (two or so sentences)?
Received 5/13/20
(Asked 6/17)

Will we be able to run field trips for lab courses during Modules A and B and, if so, how? I suspect that driving 10 people in a USave van 1.5 hours to the coast and back is going to be approached differently. Can faculty take our personal cars on a college trip? Can students take their own cars? If we are able to use vans will they be regularly disinfected?
Received 6/13/20
(Asked 6/17)

Fall Planning Team

Is Bates at all considering making in-person instruction the exception rather than the rule? If not, what are the drivers in not doing so, other than financial considerations (e.g., student body attrition)?
Received 6/16/20

Is Bates reaching out to students and parents about the value of online education at Bates, about the value of continuing their studies, at Bates, in this moment, even if remotely?
Received 6/16/20
(Addressed 6/17)

What responsibilities is the college prepared to assume, if any, if/when students, staff, or faculty fall ill, are temporarily or permanently disabled, or die, as a result of on-campus interaction during this pandemic?
Received 6/16/20

How is Bates building resiliency should the pandemic continue beyond AY 2020-21? Will Bates continue to only focus on providing the residential experience or will other models be considered?
Received 6/16/20
(Asked 6/17)

What are the contingencies in place for courses to continue should the faculty and staff teaching them fall ill and become unable to teach, even remotely?
Received 6/16/20
(Asked 6/17)

I have heard that all the members of one large department will teach remotely even if students are on campus. How will the DoF deal with that? At an earlier meeting, no assurance was offered that anyone who wants to teach remotely would be able to and that if students were on campus they would expect to be taught in person. That suggests there will be financial pressure for the college to push faculty to teach in person.
Received 6/14/20

I am particularly appreciative for the Team Drive that was created to share information with faculty and staff about the work of the two working groups. I note that meeting agendas are shared, but not meeting minutes. Why are meeting minutes not shared?
Received 6/16/20

Could the working groups share with the faculty and staff through the Team Drives, and comment on the recommendations presented in this document by the Accessible Campus Alliance: https://sites.google.com/view/accesscampusalliance?
Received 6/16/20

June 3 Town Hall

Faculty Health

If faculty are immunocompromised, or are living with or caring for people who are immunocompromised, can we elect to teach our courses wholly online during the allotted time?

If a faculty member is themselves in a high risk group for covid-19, or if they live with someone who is, will they be allowed to offer online classes even if the college is more generally offering face to face classes? If so, how will the College assess who is eligible to offer remote classes?

I appreciate the consideration of flexibility for pedagogical reasons of the grid. Has the fact that many faculty will now potentially be on campus for more days per week, and the impact that will have on health risks, been considered? Are there perhaps recommendations for faculty to limit their time on campus if they can, particularly for those who are at particular risk of being a disease vector (I live with an essential worker who has very little control over his working conditions, and there will of course be all sorts of other risk factors for others).

Faculty Experience

Can faculty choose which courses, and how many, they are teaching in either module per semester?

And if we go to the 2-2 module calendar, will I have a choice whether to do 2 – 0 or to do 1 – 1?

In the 2×2 module, are faculty expected to smooth their teaching out across the semester or are they free (subject to college and department needs) to concentrate it in a single module? For example, are faculty members teaching two courses free to do 0-2 or 2-0, or are they expected to teach one class in each module?

If faculty are currently teaching just 1 class in the Winter or Fall, can we choose which module to teach in?

If we are scheduled to teach a seminar, can we choose the seminar to be taught in another time period, not in the evening? Or vice versa? Can other evenings be opened as seminar teaching slots?

In general, the student handbook says there should be no quizzes/exams during the last week of classes. However, with this compressed schedule, we have been encouraged to have more frequent lower stakes evaluation. Would it be reasonable to allow for a waiver of this rule for this module year of classes, and allow exams/quizzes during the last week of classes? This rule is no longer an embargo on 1/12 of the class, but on nearly 20% (1/6) of the entire class meeting period.

In the second module, students do not return from Thanksgiving and instead complete the semester remotely. With the schedule, it seems possible to have extra contact hours before Thanksgiving in order to avoid having to rely on any remote learning (except for exams) afterwards. Would such a plan be in compliance with Federal regulations that require a certain number of weeks of instruction?

Contact Hours and Course Load – Do faculty still owe the usual 5 courses? How will it be determined who teaches when? Are contact hours expectations still the same? How will contact hours look different in a modular course vs. a 15 week course? Please note, these are not Elizabeth’s exact words but inferred from areas of confusion she noted.

First-Year Seminar – How and when are First Year Seminars held? Will they all be in Module A? If so, would it be possible to schedule them in 1 or 2 selected slots in the grid (as no students need to take more than one), so that academic units can offer first-year friendly courses avoiding those slots?

Semester-Long Courses – Are there options for a course to be taught in two modules, with 0.5 credit each? I have heard suggestions for the thesis, independent studies, and language courses to take this form for a longer engagement.

Teaching Large Courses and Additional Sections – How many courses will need to be divided into additional sections in order to maintain social distancing? Who will teach these additional sections?

Teaching Large Courses and Additional Sections – If large sections are split because of room capacity, as is suggested, how will that count for teaching credit?

Student Experience

How many courses are students required to take to be full-time, per module, per semester, or per year? Do they need 2 for all modules? Also, how many courses per module are the maximum permitted?

Could students take a lab associated with a course but in a different module? For example, students take the lecture in module 1 and the lab in module 2. I realize this would seriously complicate grading and grade submission.

How will the 2+2 model impact lab theses, especially considering social distancing that will be required?

Have dining services been consulted about their capacity to provide lunch for students in a safe way in a half-hour time slot, if many students take the popular times either side of lunch? Would a longer lunch time be better?

Has student affairs modeled how deferral requests may be impacted by a switch to modules? I’d argue that they may increase significantly because, due to the rapid pace, there’s no wiggle room for a bad few days or a bad week. Students will miss a good deal of material if they’re “distracted” or ill for even a brief period of time, as I’ve seen happen in Short Term. (And let’s be honest: this is a highly “distracting” time, and may be even more so during the Presidential election in the Fall.)

Compared to high school, college feels fast enough under a traditional semester system, especially if one’s high school was not “top notch.” How has adjustment for these students under a modular system been considered? What unique supports would be made available to help them adjust to learning very rapidly right off the bat? What accommodations will be offered if they fall behind? And what additional work would be expected of faculty if this were to occur?

Has the possible calendar under mods been run by any subset of students? If so, what are their reactions?

How do theses, capstones, and thesis seminars fit into the modular system?

Calendar

Earlier start & week long breaks – Can module A and C begin sooner, one week earlier, to give us a one week break between module A & B, C&D? If we can start earlier, could Bates consider offering socially-distanced outdoor classrooms, if the weather is good?

One of the tightest places on the 2×2 calendar does seem to be the transition between Mod A and Mod B in October. The Mod C to Mod D is similar but seems to have a little more time. Can we discuss this?

Given that we seem to be set on eliminating fall break and Thanksgiving break for presumably sound epidemiological reasons, I’d like to know what’s been planned in order to mitigate the known, predictable, impact this will have on our students’ mental health.

Drawbacks of 15 Week Calendar – What are the most important drawbacks involved in modifying the traditional semester calendar? And why is it believed that these drawbacks are more concerning than the drawbacks involved in switching to a modular system?

Is there any possibility of approving a modular system for the Fall only, and then revisiting the Winter academic calendar down the line, once we have a better understanding of advancements in medical science and Covid-19 patterns, in addition to a test case of running a mod?

Operations

Will we be holding a new registration for classes? If so, will students be able to learn which courses will be in person/online/hybrid before signing up?

How we are going to handle registration for the fall if everything is switching around. Will it need to be completely redone?

Unrelated to the Modular Calendar

The proposal reads as though Bates is expecting (hoping?) faculty return to campus for the full year. Will students, faculty and staff be tested? How often? Will all on campus be required to wear and teach in masks?

How do you plan to keep students physically distanced from one another when they are not in classes?

How do you plan to keep people safe from disease while they are in classrooms with little air circulation? What about in the winter months, when they can’t just open all the windows?

How will campus ventilation be adapted or changed?

Will students be arriving on campus 2 weeks early to quarantine, and how do you imagine the quarantine process working on campus?

Has any thought been given to lowering the size of classes?

If we maintain a 15 week/ 4 class term, what steps will be taken to accommodate people who cannot teach after sundown or on Saturdays for religious reasons? What steps will be taken to ensure that students with those same religious commitments have equal access to required classes?

Some courses that currently meet 55 minutes for five days a week will find that the contact hours in the proposed 2+2 grid is shorter than double the current contact hours. Are there ways to make additional time?

I’m wondering if the administration has heard anything about what the testing capacity is in the state and whether colleges would have/acquire the ability to test students, staff, and faculty on arrival and at certain times during the semester. Is Bates in contact with the Maine CDC?

Also, is it possible for Bates to collaborate with the Maine CDC regarding contact tracing should there be an outbreak?

Finally, what is the legal situation if a student gets seriously ill or worse while on the Bates campus?

I would like to ask what health metrics and criteria the college will use to determine whether or not classes will be fully online or a combination of online and in-person.
As you may know, the state of Maine has adopted three metrics in its evaluation of whether or not to progress through the different stages of opening up, and these include sustained downward trajectories of infection cases and available hospital resources. Will the college employ similar and/or adapted metrics?

In the current 2+2 model, students who take a course with a lab/studio will effectively block all but two other time slots. For example, class meets in “A” and they take a lab on Wed “G”. This leaves them only with “B” and “E” to choose their other classes, even if another class meets MTRF “C”. Could the time slots be subdivided in A1, A2, A3, etc. so students will have more flexibility choosing classes?

I assume that we will be given new safety guidelines for teaching and research labs, especially regarding spacing, communal use of equipment, PPE, etc. It would be great to have these guidelines sooner rather than later.

What, if anything, will/can be done to discourage their weekend travel? If we’re not going to have breaks and will be keeping up a rapid pace, I’d like to feel that pace is justified by some form of assurance that students are staying put, if possible.

Are times between classes sufficient for staff to clean rooms, or are we imagining that won’t happen?


May 14 and 21 Town Halls

General Concerns Regarding the Institution

  • How can faculty best help the institution and the Bates community between now and the fall semester?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/21)
  • Where are the areas of potential greatest need at the college as we move through this, and what can those with the most financial, familial, and health-related stability do to help?
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • For any questions not answered/addressed in this forum, what are the plans to answer them? Will there be another forum or are there other plans to close the loop on those inquiries?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/14)

The President’s Working Group on Fall Planning and College Finances

  • Currently tenure ineligible and tenure track faculty are not on the committees addressing the fall. Will you be addressing that problem and how?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • How has anti-racist praxis been incorporated into working group decisions? 
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • What is the role of our current faculty governance structures in the context of the 2 ad hoc committees (in other words, will faculty be able to vote on matters traditionally reserved for the faculty)?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • What is the role of our current faculty governance structures in the context of the two ad hoc committees, and on which of the ad hoc committees’ recommendations will faculty be able to vote, given the ways these will affect our working conditions and livelihoods? 
    (Received 5/20/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • Which of the recommendations of the fall groups will faculty be able to vote on?
    (From floor) 
    (Asked 5/21)

The Fall Planning Team

  • If we’re fully or partially remote in the fall, how will Bates support students (and faculty) without internet access, particularly those in rural/remote areas without cell service (so hotspots won’t work)?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • At Friday’s [May 8, 2020] chairs’ meeting, Malcolm shared some of the very real financial concerns the college is facing. These are compelling and we can’t ignore them. Simultaneously, there are very real health concerns for students, faculty, and staff if we bring all or some of our students to campus in the fall. How are the working groups thinking about the balance between financial pressures and health (very possibly life/death) decisions?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/14)
  • What are the working groups’ thoughts about labs, field work, performance and studio arts courses? 
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Can we prioritize making a decision earlier rather than later? Our mental health and summer planning depend on this.
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/14)
  • How are we evaluating the risks of bringing in students to campus, i.e., are there any benchmarks? Several studies have pointed out the possibility of a resurgence of infections in the fall. In that light it does not seem prudent to consider bringing students back to campus — the public health risks associated with this outweigh the risks of the existential threat faced by small colleges such as ours. Cal State just decided to go fully online in the fall. Making the decision to go full online is one we can make now and this will give everyone the much needed time to prep.
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/14)
  • What criteria will be used to decide whether or not to bring students to campus this fall, and where are these criteria sourced from (e.g. other colleges, US CDC, etc.)?
    (Received 5/20/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • What requirements need to be in place in order to reopen? What avenues are available for faculty and staff who are vulnerable if we were to reopen before a vaccine is developed?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • How are we thinking about issues of equity in a hybrid model? (international students, technology access, students living in multigenerational households)
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • I have grave concerns about a hi-flex model of teaching where we prepare to teach two different sets of students for each class–those on campus and those off campus. Not only is this two separate course preps, but it also puts pressure on creating equivalent experiences among the two groups of students and requires that we test/evaluate them in two different but commensurate ways. This is a tremendous amount of work on top of any new preps that faculty are facing. How is the working group balancing faculty’s needs in making decisions about hi-flex, versus in-person fall coursework versus online fall coursework?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • Are we being asked to design courses that begin in-person and then go remote? will there be students remote from the start? Synchronous / asynchronous? Are all these options on the table? A mixed model where some classes are entirely remote and others entirely in-person.
    (From floor) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • Are any other models, other than the Beloit-like 2 modules per semester being considered?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • What is the expected timeline of the Fall semester registration (adjustment or overhaul) after the calendar and mode decision is made? Assuming the decision is announced in late June, the faculty would need to rework the grid and advise new and continuing students in time for registration in July. This would mean some faculty time during the summer should be allotted for administrative and advising work. As summer is also time for personal rest and scholarly work, knowing when to expect these tasks will be helpful.
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • When will NESCAC have decision on Athletics? When will that happen?
    (From floor) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • Will we start early and cancel breaks while also ending early (by thanksgiving) for fall?
    (From floor) 
    (Asked 5/21)

Social Distancing

  • When students return in Fall 2020, does Bates plan to maintain social distancing 24/7 with every aspect of campus life? 
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • Will there be limits to #’s of students in classrooms? (Received 5/13/20) (Asked 5/14)
  • Will student leaders be the ones to design social distancing guidelines for greater student buy-in?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/21)
  • Will there be testing, temperature taking for everyone on campus?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/14)
  • Have classrooms and labs been measured so that we know the number of students that each can hold with social distancing? I assume that if we’re in person, we would need double the contact hours to reach the same number of students in larger classes (30+) or labs that normally accommodate 16 students. How will we be compensated for this time?
    (Received 5/20/20) 
    (Addressed 5/21)

Training and Resources for Faculty, Remote Teaching

  • What resources will be available to faculty? What resources are available already in ILS, for example, and may we have a list of resources with a specific description of what they are and how to access them? 
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • Given that we are being asked to do a lot of extra work without compensation–indeed with diminished compensation–what can the institution do in terms of resources and training to prevent us from unneeded searching and reduplicated efforts?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • Will the administration and ILS collate a list of resources available to faculty for online teaching so that we do not have to spend time looking for them?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Would it be possible for the college to list the current resources that are available to aid in course prep? For example, are there ipads/digital writing equipment, camera equipment available for faculty to use?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • What ILS resources are currently available to help us transition (aside from the forthcoming webinars – I’m thinking of things like Catapult, Jupyter Notebooks, CoCalc that I use but that other faculty might not have encountered)?  How would we go about supporting students to learn to use those resources remotely?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Can CRC and the library provide a list of already existing software/programs/resources available to Bates Faculty with a brief overview of what the resource is for and/or how it might be implemented in an online teaching environment (two or so sentences)?
    • Providing this information will allow faculty to not duplicate effort in finding solutions to problems
    • Providing this information could potentially allow the campus to save money by fully utilizing solutions we have already purchased
    • Providing this will better allow faculty to ask questions about solutions to problems they are facing in adapting their courses.
    • For example, we now have a tool to create accessible documents, which will be important as we move online; making sure faculty know it is available is important. We received emails about workshops and some faculty attended, but a list of resources will remind us of what we have available to us.
    • This will greatly help us plan our courses.
      (Received 5/13/20)
  • What are you hearing from surveys and the tremendous (and deeply appreciated) outreach from support staff on what our needs are as we gear up for success this fall, and how can we help address this?
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • What are the plans for support throughout the summer, formal and informal, that will help us in our preparation for teaching and research agendas?
    (Received 5/20/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)
  • What support will faculty get for teaching under an online, hybrid, or Beloit model? What support will faculty receive in terms of technology or family care if we are required to work from home?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)

Remote Teaching and Pedagogy

  • If we are in some hybrid form of operation – some students on campus, some students away – is the College going to issue some guidelines on grading, or leave it up to individual faculty?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • What considerations are being given to evaluating students in all the proposals for next term?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • With zooming and other forms of on line interaction, are FERPA guidelines clear as to what is permissible and what is not? I have a brother teaching in Florida, and the state system there (I believe it was the state and not his county) restricted use of certain applications, saying that in no instance should teachers have visual access to their students and the setting in which the students were working. Have colleges and universities been on safe legal grounds this spring/winter? Is there any need to reconsider zooming and others?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • If we are teaching some combination of in-person and online classes, what steps will be taken to make sure that students are receiving the same classroom experience?  Given that the pedagogical strategies for teaching online and in person are very different, would it make sense to offer some classes (maybe gateway classes for majors) in both an explicitly online and explicitly in-person format, and give one faculty member credit for each iteration of the course?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/21)

“Beloit Model” and Modular Schedule

  • How do 1/2 credit units fit into the group’s considerations, and are there possibilities to move some full credit courses to 1/2 credit per module. I am thinking here about language courses, especially at the first and second year levels. For example, taking Language 101 in, let’s say fall module1, and then waiting until winter module 3 or 4 to continue, is far from the optimal way to learn a language. Thus, would it be possible for first and second (and maybe third) year language courses to be offered across two modules in a semester, with 1/2 credit awarded at the completion of each module?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • While we recognize the difficulty to complete a thesis project in 7.5 weeks, we also think that offering 0.5 credit for thesis work over two modules or other “overhang” solutions (where a thesis spills over two modules) creates undue burdens on both students and faculty. Would there be a way to encourage departments and programs to revise their thesis project requirements in this extraordinary year to adjust to the modular setup?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • If we go to the module based schedule, will there be a new registration period? In limited enrollment classes, would students already in a class get preference in a new registration period?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • With our current curriculum not revised from the ground up for the Beloit modular model, students may prioritize their courses in a way they did not before. The pattern we see during the advising periods is that students are more or less sure about 2-3 courses for the semester (their major requirements, gateway courses, etc.) and want to take care of them first. Only then do they consider other courses (seen as less “important” – whatever than means). In the new model, we can imagine a tendency to always prioritize the “important” courses, since they’re only looking at two at a time. Will there be a mechanism to compensate for that: to mitigate the impact on larger programs and give smaller programs a chance to compete?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Is it true that no one would teach three courses in a single module? Will there be a college-wide stipulation that faculty teach in x-number of modules? Something like, if you have a five course teaching load, you must schedule your courses across at least three modules?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • If a faculty member who teaches two courses in a semester elects to offer both of them in one module, and if we don’t switch to remote teaching or hybrid mode, will the faculty be expected to be available on campus for the second module?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • How will independent studies be affected? Would faculty still be able to offer them?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Would students be able to take a fifth course in any given semester, ending up with 3 courses in one module (i.e. 72 hours of coursework/week)?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • If we adopt a 2+2 modular system (as opposed to a semester system), will students be allowed to take 3 courses in one module, or to drop down to 1 course when one of the 2 courses did not work out? Dividing the semester increases flexibility in some aspects, but I worry that it loses other aspects of the flexibility of the semester system, namely, that it allows students to take the 5th course and to drop down to 3 courses while maintaining a full-time status.
    (Received 5/20/20)

Teaching Load

  • What will the teaching, research, and service expectations of faculty be during the Fall of 2020?  
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Are faculty that were scheduled to teach in Short Term ’20 going to be expected to teach an overload in the reconfigured curriculum in AY 20-21?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • While there are reasonable concerns about enrollment melt/students taking gap semesters if we move online, there are also enrollment pressures in the other direction due to abroad programs being on hold. Our teaching capacity has been significantly limited for the fall, with non-reappointments of visiting faculty and cancelled searches for faculty, and we may need to think about class sizes for distancing reasons if we are in-person (and also for student support reasons if we are on-line). What is the college’s plan for dealing with the additional teaching needs we may face? Can the college commit now to 1) offering additional courses, where appropriate, to visiting faculty first, 2) with a full level of compensation for the work involved (particularly since the college is saving a percentage from not also making retirement contributions on additional compensation, and because there is so much extra work going online, the maximum amount of $12,000 seems to me to be appropriate across the board), 3) with a very clear message that turning down additional teaching opportunities will not impact one’s continuing employment at the institution? Conversely, if I am incorrect about pressures on our teaching capacity, will the college commit to not reducing our teaching personnel further or further reducing their compensation?  
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • How do we plan to support departments and programs that are understaffed because of non-renewals that have already occurred and hiring freezes? 
    (Received 5/20/20)

Evaluation, Tenure and Promotion

  • Will teaching evaluations for personnel decisions will be suspended or significantly modified for junior faculty and others seeking promotion?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • How will we rethink faculty evaluation?  
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Can the college waive student evaluations as currently written for the duration of the pandemic?  SOQs are imprecise instruments at the best of times, and it seems like given that students and faculty are effected by COVID in visible and invisible ways, SOQs are likely to reflect the noise of COVID stress rather than the signal of teaching.  Especially if many of our classes are entirely or partially online, asking students to evaluate a learning style that many will be unfamiliar with, in ways that are pivotal for tenure, promotion and reappointment seems like it has the potential to cause more harm than it returns helpful information.
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • How will the effectiveness of online teaching be evaluated?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • I believe that evaluating remote teaching will be difficult, especially given the fact that many of us have not been specifically trained to teach this way nor hired to do so. The stresses of the pandemic only compound this issue. What about changing the approach to student evaluations during the pandemic? Can we build in an option wherein evaluations are not given and/or counted?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Please provide more information about the process of pausing the tenure clock for pre-tenure faculty. How would this work? Is there some similar/equitable measure available for tenure-ineligible faculty?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • What are we hearing about untenured and non-tenure eligible faculty and the kinds of support they need? How can we, as a community, rally to help?
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • How is the College planning to accommodate the specific pressures of tenure-ineligible colleagues who need to balance the demands of planning online, hybrid, or modulated courses at the same time that they need to be preparing job application materials and remaining as active as possible with research, given the broader context of a very lean (if not non-existent) job market? This seems especially important in light of the fact that tenure-track junior faculty were given an extension on their tenure clocks. 
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • What sort of flexibility will there be surrounding the evaluation of teaching in these unprecedented situations, especially for faculty members concerned about tenure and promotion, or tenure-ineligible people who need evidence of teaching excellence in order to apply for other jobs? 
    (Received 5/20/20)

Support Staff

  • What is the experience of the AAAs and their attempts to serve us from home?  Are there ways in which their work or communication can be improved?  What can we continue to expect from them?
    (Received 5/20/20)

Admission and Enrollment

  • Given that the May 1st admissions deadline has come and gone, do we know anything about yield — about how many students have at least made a tentative commitment for next year?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)

Faculty Compensation

  • What are the implications, current and future, for not accepting the amended contract?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • Can you explain how the amended faculty contracts (salary cuts) contribute to the financial stability and job security of campus staff? What are the short term and long term consequences for faculty who do not sign their amended contract?  
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • Can we have more information about the amended contracts? What are the repercussions for future annual cost of living adjustments, as those raises are based on the current salary? 
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • For those of us who took the reduction in our salary for this coming year, what assurances are there that those who didn’t take the cut don’t get the COL increase again next year?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • How will future raises be calculated for those who accepted the contract amendments? 
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • Since there was plenty of time for the 45-day legal notification requirement on changes to Bates benefits, why was the decision to eliminate pensions, which is a 9-12% cut in Total Compensation (approximately $4.5 million), made without the input of the College Finances Team? Pensions and health care contributions are core elements of faculty compensation.
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Asked 5/14)
  • Given the significant investment that we will necessarily have to make this summer and this fall as faculty prepare for and then implement various forms of online learning, what sorts of non-financial compensatory measures will be taken — especially for tenure-ineligible faculty who face uncertain job security — to offset those enormous increases in time/effort?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Those of us who are pre-tenure appreciate the clock freeze, as it makes space to focus on course redesign this summer. What steps might be taken to support our colleagues who are not on the tenure track, and who otherwise would have spent the summer working on job application materials? Given that they already work for Bates, and already fill curricular gaps, is extending their contracts for a year (similar to the tenure clock freeze) a possibility?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Statement: I have great antipathy regarding the entire discussion of the salary issue. It is a distraction. It is my ardent hope that we can dispense with the issue with very little discussion or take it off-line to the very few for whom it appears to weigh heavily. It is soul-crushing to many to give this so much airtime. 5 minutes, max!
    (Received 5/20/20) 
    (Addressed 5/21)
  • In addition to other’s questions, we would like to know how those who have accepted the salary reduction for this year will see their salary affected in years to come. And conversely, will those who do not sign the amended contract have a reduction of salary next year to ensure equity regarding the sacrifices that we all make. There were already existing salary inequities caused by field of expertise, rank, tenure eligibility, ability to negotiate, etc., but it would be good to know that that built in inequity does not get exacerbated by the signing/not signing of the amended contract. 
    (Received 5/20/20) 
    (Addressed 5/21)
  • Is it also right to ask short-term faculty to share this burden when a) they won’t be around to reap the benefits of a financially secure institution, and b) their short-tenure is cited as the reason to exclude them from the ad hoc committees (a submit button is not the same as a voice in the room)?
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • Would any member of a future hiring committee or the Committee on Personnel (the Dean’s office takes part in both processes) be aware that a given faculty member did or did not accept an amended contract?
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • How are those whose jobs are going to be much harder if we are remote or partially remote, and who are being asked to give up precious summer research time to plan, be supported – especially when they are earlier in their career, and this lost time will impact their future careers significantly?  
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • Would it be possible for those of us who have already clicked on the Gateway form (whether to sign the new contract or not sign it) to have an extended grace period, during which the important questions that have been raised recently might be answered?
    (Received 5/20/20)
  • There was an email notification sent out earlier today stating “Your Alternate Contract Amendment for academic year 2020-21 is due today.” As there was no prior mention of a date and as there had been a number of questions about the contract, would it be possible to extend the deadline until after Thursday’s town-hall? (Received 5/19/20)
  • How will the college approach faculty compensation moving forward for those who accept the contract amendments?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Many questions and concerns were raised since last week’s forum, regarding the contract amendment, including 1) many employees did not initially understand that accepting the amendment was a choice, 2) equity regarding how this is felt as a choice based on positionality within the institution.  Many made the decision without knowledge of how salary decisions in the coming years might reflect the decisions we are making now, and particularly how inequities surrounding this decision may or may not be further exacerbated by future institutional decisions. In light of this, would the administration be willing to reset the contract amendment, or provide an anonymous way to go about doing so, such that we can make our individual decisions to accept or decline with full information about the implications for such decisions?
    (Received 5/21/20)

Finances

  • Which capital projects are being put on hold?
    (Received 5/13/20) 
    (Addressed 5/21)
  • Will the Bates administration release its full financial information (complete budgets, with details, though understanding that certain identifying information regarding salaries may need to be redacted) to the community so that we can have what we need to fully participate in crucial conversations? Public institutions already do this, and this enables things like the Alternative Open Source Budget project at Ohio State. It demonstrates respect for the collective intelligence of the community, humility on the part of upper administrators, and is an action of comparable and adequate scope/scale to the challenges we’re facing. 
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • If the administration will not release this information, what are the justifications for withholding? How, without such action, will the College then ensure that its public commitment to equity and inclusion are actually embodied by its own institutional practices in a time of crisis? How will those of us outside of the decision-making circles be able to trust that all creative, cooperatively-oriented solutions will have been seriously considered before drastic action (such as cuts to employment) is taken? I know these are tough questions, and likely to not get air time because they are unconventional and swim upstream against the current of traditional institutional practice– both within and beyond Bates. I ask them with deep respect for the hard work the administration is facing, and I also ask them in the spirit of urging us all to reconsider conventional practices in the face of a radically new situation that demands collective creativity and the participation of everyone in shaping our future together.
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • We are told that Bates cannot use most of the endowment in an emergency situation, even if Bates is folding and closing. Please be more specific: What percentage of the endowment is designated and cannot be used for any other purpose under any circumstances; what percentage can be used only in an emergency; and what percentage is liquid and accessible if Bates decided it was prudent and in accordance with our values to use more of the endowment than is usual?
    (Received 5/13/20)
    (Addressed 5/14) 
  • As we are warned of possible dire circumstances next fiscal year, what assurances can the senior staff, especially the President, make to tenure-track faculty? As Bates decides on necessary cuts to address the evolving situation, how deep is its commitment to preserving current tenure-track faculty?
    (Received 5/13/20)
  • Three related questions about the availability of alternative college finances to offset budget holes:
    •  How much does the College have in reserves, and under what conditions would those reserves be used to offset current and/or future budgetary shortfalls (e.g. along with cuts to employee compensation, benefits, etc.)?
      (Addressed 5/14)
    •  Recognizing that the endowment is not a savings account, could the College consider taking a larger one-time draw on the endowment of 7% or 8% (instead of our usual 5%) to help offset current and/or future budgetary shortfalls? 
      (Addressed 5/21)
    • How much does the College spend annually on debt services, and has the College negotiated with our lenders for a temporary 90- or 180-day (or longer) suspension on our debt as an emergency financial-relief measure? To be clear, this is not asking for a debt-cancellation — just a suspension in line with what has been offered to graduates paying back student loans, or the flexibility given to individual homeowners and other mortgage-holders. (I recognize that our credit worthiness is an important consideration, but it stands to reason that if cuts to employee compensation/benefits are on the table, then financial lenders to whom we owe money ought to also be on the table.)
      (Received 5/13/20)
      (Addressed 5/14)
  • What is the worst-case job loss scenario for Bates? (forced retirements, firing untenured faculty, furloughing campus staff, etc.)
    (Received 5/13/20)
    (Asked 5/21) 
  • We are confident that the senior administration has considered all avenues to address our budget shortfall and appreciate the fact that Bates has not laid off or furloughed anybody yet. Should our financial situation worsen into the fall and winter, we are curious to know what financial strategies will be considered to address this issue? (For example, a larger draw on the endowment, renegotiating debt, etc.) 
    (Received 5/20/20)
    (Addressed 5/21)
  •  Are savings due to lower operational costs being accounted for in the loss projections?
    (Received5/13/20)
    (Addressed 5/14)