Important information for faculty

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Colleagues,

I am sensitive to the fact that you are likely overloaded with email communications at this time, but there are several items important to faculty that I want to bring to your attention. I’ve tried to organize them by category for easier future reference. As always, our communications are posted on the Coronavirus page of the RU website.

TEACHING/STUDENT-RELATED

As Rockhurst’s Provost, I am keenly aware that navigating a new way of teaching and learning has its set of challenges for most faculty members and students – and this is on top of the many other changes and stressors each of us are encountering in our home, work, and personal lives. I would encourage us all to offer grace to one another during this time of change – adjust and confirm expectations of your students as needed, communicate with one another about what is working and not working, draw from your own and others’ creative ideas towards helpful solutions, and remain person-centered and caring in all that you do.

Faculty Support

Reminder about the following resources:

Inviting guests into your remote classroom

While faculty will not be inviting people back to campus the rest of the semester to speak physically in the classroom, you still may have them attend virtually. If faculty invite someone to participate virtually, then please complete this form. Advancement will be happy to send the gift we provide via mail. Also, if you have cancelled a speaker but had planned to have them on campus, Advancement again would be happy to still give them a gift via mail.

Student support

The staff and tutors in our Learning Center are available and able to offer assistance remotely. Additionally, our library staff is available to answer questions related library research. The Bookstore has eBooks for free. For your convenience, I will share those about the Learning Center, the Library, and the Bookstore.

The Learning Center will provide tutoring and supplemental instruction sessions remotely via Zoom. 

A detailed Greenlease Library Services Continuity web guide outlining remote resources and services is available here.  Consult this guide to find services and appropriate staff to answer your questions. Chat service is available here. Due dates of Rockhurst University-owned materials have been changed for all Rockhurst patrons. The new due date for these materials will be May 19, 2020. Please note, however, that Rockhurst University's patrons will no longer be able to request items through the Rockhurst University, KC-Towers, or MOBIUS catalogs, or use Rockhurst University as a pick-up location. 

The Rockhurst University Bookstore, through Barnes & Noble Education, has announced that it has joined VitalSource in an effort to support students impacted by the recent COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Beginning today and through the remainder of the spring 2020 term, VitalSource will offer free access to eTextbooks for students at BNED campuses that have closed due to COVID-19. A list will be provided soon of eligible schools for this program, please check back to review your schools’ eligibility. In the interim, review the attached “Vital Source Help FAQs” to familiarize yourself with the program and the student experience. For a full list of publishers that are participating, click here

Disability Resource Center

As we all make the transition to working remotely and learning remotely, it is critical we remember our students who are approved to receive accommodations. We must ensure those are still in place even in a remote learning environment.  For faculty needing assistance with the technology piece (setting up extended time on exams, point of Ally accessibility tool to ensure accessible documents, and how to run the Canvas accessibility checker) I encourage you to outreach to eLearning on how to set up an accommodation in the online setting.  For faculty who may have a question about a student’s accommodations, please reach out to drc@rockhurst.edu.  

Where are our students?

As you know – with only few exceptions – our students have returned home. We have students who are attempting to continue their RU courses from England to Australia. Please be sensitive to the differences in time zones for those students and recognize how challenging it might be for them to attend synchronous courses and respond to your emails.

Communicating with students

Just as many of you are anxious about teaching remotely, our students are experiencing that anxiety, too. Many who selected Rockhurst for face-to-face classes are now learning via a new medium. Please remember to communicate with them regarding your expectations, including how you will assess them and how they will earn a grade in your class.

FACULTY ANNOUNCEMENTS

Faculty recognition event

Because of the mayor’s order, we must cancel this year’s event. I am confident this is particularly disappointing to several of our colleagues who would have been honored for their years of service to Rockhurst.  At the event, we were planning to recognize our retiring faculty through video interviews. Our Marketing team is still working with our retiring faculty to create this video, and we hope to be able to share that video with you sometime next month.

Our retiring faculty

  • Amy Foley (23 years)
  • Bill Haefele (35 years)
  • Jean Heibert (37 years)
  • Laura Janusik (16 years)
  • Randy Schwering (32 years)
  • Bill Stancil (25 years)
  • Bill Sturgill (31 years)
  • Turner White (15 years)

Faculty with 25 years of service

  • Craig Sasse
  • Dale Harak
  • Kate Nicolai
  • Bill Stancil

Faculty Awards

Nomination deadlines for faculty awards (Teaching, Brenner) and university awards (Kies, Assessment) are extended until COB May 31. While the awards will be made prior to the end of the fiscal year, our public recognition of the awardees will occur at our All Companions Meeting in August.

Core Revision

The Faculty Senate has reported to me that The Core Revision Committee continues to meet and is working with the leadership of the Faculty Senate to set up information sessions and discussions. 

Rank and Tenure applications

If you intend to apply for promotion and/or tenure in the 2020-21 academic year, then please complete the form and submit it, via email (which will serve as your signature) to your dean before the April 1 deadline.

Center for eLearning

I have appointed Laurena Calderon as the interim director of the Center for eLearning. I think you will all agree that Laurena’s leadership, along with the collaboration of Kirsten Potter (CETL Director) and Philip Colombo, has been invaluable. Congratulations to Laurena!

Conclusion

I’ll conclude by admitting none of us want to be in this position. We are but one of literally thousands of institutions of higher education who have been forced to move  operations online. But we are committed to making decisions, grounded in our Jesuit values, that are in the best interest of our students. Please accept my appreciation for your patience and grace as we navigate in this new terrain.

DOUGLAS N. DUNHAM, PH.D.
Provost and Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs