Accounting for COVID-19 in the Academic Review Process
- This resolution would authorize emergency rulemaking to allow for the addition of one year to the service limits for current faculty to attain continuing appointment.
- This resolution would amend the corresponding Policies of the SUNY Board of Trustees.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread impacts. Beyond the challenges of personal trauma and grief, health issues, child and family care difficulties, and financial uncertainty that many in our campus community are dealing with; our academic work has been impacted by travel restrictions, cancellation of conferences and seminars, closure of libraries and national research facilities, and the need to suddenly transition courses to a remote format. We have received questions about how this will be accounted for in evaluating tenure and promotion cases.
We understand the extraordinary circumstances caused by this public health emergency and will take this into account when evaluating personnel cases in the Provost's office. Additionally, although consideration of cases by departmental committees, college personnel/promotion and tenure committees, and Deans are performed independently of the Provost's office, we strongly urge these bodies to similarly account for these circumstances when evaluating personnel cases. Below is some guidance on specific issues.
- We recognize that the transition to remote instruction has required faculty to rapidly learn and implement new teaching technologies and innovate in their instruction in multiple ways. This represents a substantial development of curricular materials by the faculty. Faculty are encouraged to note these educational innovations and development of new materials in the teaching sections of their biofiles. We have updated our guidelines for the Academic Review Process to clarify that demonstration of strength in teaching need not be solely based on student response to instruction and can include discussion of educational innovations and development of new curricular materials.
- Faculty may list relevant research and creative activities that were planned for Spring 2020 – Spring 2021 (e.g., papers and presentations that were accepted to conferences, seminar invitations, etc.) in the appropriate sections of their biofile and CV, and include a footnote or parenthetical note that the conference, exhibit, or trip was cancelled due to COVID-19. Faculty may also include a general statement where appropriate that, for example, activities were impacted during spring/summer/fall 2020 due to COVID-19 and describe the impact to their research and creative activities.
The impacts listed above are not intended to be comprehensive, and we recognize there have been differential impacts depending on specific academic subfields and varying personal situations. Faculty may wish to include a separate section of their biofile with a more detailed and comprehensive list of the impact of the pandemic on their scholarship, teaching, and service activities. Best practices for fauclty to document the effects of the pandemic have been proposed by the University of Massachusetts Amherst here.