4-21-20 Message to Community


We continue to be asked about life after July 1. I wish I had better answers, but at this point, the only thing we know is that we have asked each of our academic divisions to provide a robust portfolio of online classes for this summer. We cannot predict what July will look like, or how the return to campus will play out, but we hope for the best, and continue to plan for contingencies. Where we ARE clear though, is that Miami always takes care of our students. We may not know what the future looks like, but we will figure it all out together.

  1. Return to Campus Committees
  2. Policy for Instructors re: Course Evaluations
  3. Spring 2020 Final Exams
Return to Campus Committees:
At the request of the Governor, the IUC, and President Crawford, we are beginning to form "Return to Campus Committees" throughout the University. While this does not mean we are changing our plans to offer online courses throughout the summer it does mean that we are imagining what our return to campus will look like while still maintaining public health and safety.
Each area of the university will have a planning committee to discuss what a return to campus looks like specific to their division. For example, Jim Oris has already constituted a “Return to Research” committee, and Student Life will undoubtedly have multiple committees looking at all areas of student life and services. Within Academic Affairs, we need to constitute committees that will look at all issues around returning to campus from student, graduate student, faculty, staff, departmental, and college perspectives. We also need to think through what the implications are from a global engagement, international student, and online perspectives. We need to ask a lot of questions and find as many answers.
I have asked the incoming Chair of the University Senate Executive Committee, James Bielo, to co-chair an AAO “Return to Academics” committee and to help me think through all the various issues that this process raises. To provide broad input, we need to create and engage ad-hoc committees composed of various stakeholder groups who will help us both surface questions and topics that need to be addressed and to discuss and propose answers to questions we are already asking. Dr. Bielo and I will be looking for volunteers to help with these discussions very soon.

Course Evaluations Revisited:
During yesterday's Senate, a broad range of concerns and questions around course evaluations specific to this semester were discussed. As a result of this discussion, I believe that students deserve to have a voice and to provide feedback on their experiences this semester, and that we must provide our instructors agency on how they use that information. There is also relevant institutional policy which states that where instructors engage in revised or novel pedagogies, they can choose to disallow reporting of their evaluations for purposes of annual review, promotion, etc. Based on policy and input from many individuals, we:
  • Will offer a brief window later this week so instructors can consider adding some optional questions to their course evaluations to potentially enhance the value of this feedback;
  • That course evaluations will continue as planned; and
  • Instructors will have the complete discretion to include or exclude any or all aspects of the Spring 2020 course evaluations from any or all future annual evaluations, promotion, and tenure review processes. Further, choosing not to report these results cannot be held against instructors as implying poor results. However, reporting beneficial outcomes or including in a narrative how an instructor used this feedback constructively to improve teaching practice in the future can be positively considered in future evaluations.

This is in addition to prior commitments we collectively have made, such as the commitment to remind external reviewers that COVID-19, and the overnight transition to remote delivery, can be taken into account as context for evaluating portfolios, and continuing to offer access to clock extensions where desired by instructors as previously discussed.

Spring 2020 Final Exams – Information for Faculty:
These guidelines are provided in addition to what appears in the Miami University Policy Library.

  •  “Final Exam” can refer to any type of culminating assessment, which could be a final exam, project, paper, or other product.
  • Faculty should communicate plans to their students for the final exams by April 30 at the latest—especially if plans have changed since the start of the semester.
  • A final exam can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Exams can be administered through Canvas and support is offered through eLearning (Oxford) and E-Campus (Regionals).
    • Synchronous final exams must be given following the 2020 spring semester final exam schedule. Remember that a synchronous final exam can be problematic for students who are in a significantly different time zone or who are dealing with problems relative to COVID-19. Please be understanding to students who may have problems with a scheduled synchronous final exam and be prepared to offer another option.
    • Asynchronous final exams provide students the opportunity to complete the exam within parameters specified by the instructor, at the time of their choosing, within a window you define windows should conclude at the end of the scheduled final exam day/time. Such windows should be large enough to accommodate situations in which students have other exams and/or students are residing where there are significant time differences. I personally used these options with my classes to allow students optimal ability to demonstrate mastery of material.
  • Reminder: No exams can be given the week before final exams.
  • There is no extension to the deadline when final grades must be submitted (noon on Tuesday, May 19).
  • If faculty would like to explore the pedagogical considerations associated with different options for culminating assessments, they should schedule a CTE consultation.
    Love and Honor,Jason Osborne

    All resources related to COVID-19 are available at our one-stop web page: coronavirus/index.html.