Ohio University

Preparing for fall semester

Published: May 1, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with Ohio University faculty and staff on Friday, May 1.

We are writing to provide an update about our summer online offerings and fall contingency planning. While much is unknown at this time, rest assured that we will continue to teach our students and serve our communities — with our faculty integral to ensuring we are prepared in the coming months — regardless of the impact that COVID-19 may have in the fall semester and beyond.   

At the outset, we want to acknowledge and express our gratitude for the considerable time and resources you have invested in converting your courses to remote delivery and for your ongoing support of our students during this challenging time. We also are grateful to those of you who have agreed to teach courses this summer as we move all of our summer offerings online. 

An interdisciplinary team of faculty members and deans participated in a summer rapid response group to ensure robust course offerings that will help current students catch up or stay on track to graduate. The group also developed a proposal for an engaging second summer session course for our incoming first-year students to help them start connecting with their peers and faculty at their new university. The proposed course would focus on relationship building and offer engagement opportunities drawing on the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of faculty members. The group developed recommendations in just over a week’s time, a truly commendable effort at the close of the semester. If you are interested in more information or in participating in this course, please contact Interim Dean Carey Busch.  

While it is our most sincere desire and intention to resume face to face operations in the fall, none of us can predict with certainty what course the disease will take in the next few months, and no operational decisions about fall semester have been made at this time. In order to be prepared regardless of the circumstances, colleagues across the university are developing plans for several fall scenarios. This planning will occur in the context of pending guidance from the state and Ohio’s Inter-University Council. On the academic side, several teams are being established to develop recommendations for contingency plans in the event we are remote or using a hybrid of remote and face-to-face instruction.  

  • Academic Scenario Planning: Vice President for Research & Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College Joseph Shields and College of Arts & Sciences Associate Dean Sarah Poggione will co-chair a group that includes associate or assistant deans from all colleges. These representatives will work within their colleges and involve faculty and chairs/directors to ensure alignment of scheduling and curricular offerings with student needs under a variety of delivery scenarios.
  • Student Experience/Student Life: Associate Vice President of Auxiliaries Gwyn Scott and Dean of University Libraries Neil Romanosky will co-chair the second group that will explore how to ensure the safety and functionality of student spaces across all our campuses in response to possible contingencies.    
  • We will also work with existing shared governance groups, such as University Curriculum Council and Faculty Senate committees and subcommittees, for any policy changes or adjustments to academic processes that are identified in the planning process.

If you have ideas for fall planning or are interested in participating in our planning groups, please contact us via email at provost@ohio.edu.

Our concern, first and foremost, is the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and larger communities. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, we will seek to develop and implement the right Ohio University plan that is measured and informed by guidance from state and federal health authorities. 

What we do know at this time is that Ohio University will continue to be open, and we will continue to provide educational opportunities for our students. However, as you prepare for fall semester, we encourage you to approach your planning from a “what if” perspective. What if our classes need to be spaced out (physical-distancing or timing)?  What would a hybrid approach (online with reduced or minimal face-to-face) look like? What if the semester starts in one modality and changes to another? What if we are fully online?  

To help support this planning, additional teaching resources will be available.   

  • In partnership with the Office of Instructional Innovation, we have asked for additional workshops, individual consultations, and online resources to be made available to all faculty throughout the summer. Keep Teaching OHIO, a resource website for faculty, will continue to be updated with new and improved support materials and information about how to receive assistance.
  • University Libraries will continue offering support for remote and online teaching and research, including purchasing and scanning content, providing electronic reserves processing, and identifying and integrating affordable course materials into your classes. Subject librarians remain available to collaborate with you in delivering embedded information literacy instruction sessions into your remote courses and to support you with your research. Dean Romanosky is working with library colleagues on a plan that we hope will allow us to resume access to some of the Libraries’ on-site collections and spaces in a controlled and safe manner when permitted.  

Thank you again for your care for our students and for one another. Best wishes for a healthy and restorative summer.  
Sincerely,  

Robin Muhammad  
Chair of Faculty Senate  

Elizabeth Sayrs  
Executive Vice President and Provost  

Joseph Shields 
Vice President for Research & Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College