Dear Faculty,

I hope you are surviving the record heat we are having this summer and staying as cool as possible. I keep reminding myself how cold the spring was, so I should be relishing the heat now.  Okay, it is all about attitude isn’t it!

 I’m writing to share some important updates.

  • I hope you will join us for the Faculty Teams Live event next week:

We will continue to provide written answers to questions posed at our Faculty Teams Live events, and will post them as quickly as possible each week.

  • Vice President Wanda-Heading Grant and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion unit have partnered with the Larner College of Medicine, the College of Education and Social Services, and Continuing and Distance Education to produce the Beyond Brave Spaces Webinar Series centered on racial equity.

  • The Fleming Museum is also contributing to the university’s racial equity activities, presenting a fall 2020 collection-based exhibition, developed in response to the historic moment facing our country resulting from multiple significant events: a pandemic, the movement for racial justice, and an economic downturn. The selected art works – both historical and contemporary – will offer an opportunity to share interpretations and experiences, and to build new ways of fostering campus and community dialogue through art and creative response.
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is offering a series of short workshops with ideas on teaching in the different fall course modalities: fully online; remote synchronous; mixed; and in person. The workshops will be offered the week of August 3. You can find the workshop descriptions and links to sign up here. Additional events and workshops are being planned for the week of August 24. Please check the CTL website regularly for updates and new information.
  • Continuing and Distance Education (CDE) continues to offer their bootcamp designed for faculty who are new to teaching online. Upcoming trainings are scheduled to start August 4 and August 11. Additional information and registration form can be found here.
  • Room assignments have been finalized for all but a small handful of classes. Some faculty have asked how they can see their adjusted (“socially distanced”) room capacity. This information is available on the Registrar’s website, at the bottom of the Fall Schedule of Courses page– just click on Revised Room Capacities for fall 2020.
  • An important message has gone out to our students, reminding them that they share responsibility for keeping our community safe. We encourage you to read this message and to reinforce its positive message of responsibility, respect, and care for others in your interactions with students and colleagues.

As we continue to prepare for our fall return, we know it will not look the same and all of us will need to be mindful of our role as educators creating a quality learning experience for our students. I think it is important to remember that even though the way we teach in the fall will look different and feel different, our work with students inside and outside the classroom still has incredible value and importance. With challenges come opportunities and the fall semester is giving us an opportunity to step back and examine how we deliver course content and make the “classroom” experience as intellectually stimulating and rewarding as possible. Students are counting on us to give them as much of a positive learning experience as we can under such challenging circumstances. Keep your goals for your students in mind and strive to be creative in your course design in ways that inspire our students to learn and that fill them (and us!) with Catamount pride.
During this time of uncertainty, I frequently think about the words of Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, who said, “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances—to choose one’s own way.” Our response to the pandemic is shaped by how we take on the challenges it places before us. We have control over our attitudes and we have a responsibility to model for a students a way to manage the challenges they are facing as they navigate on-campus and at home instruction this fall, and shift the focus from what has changed in the classroom, to value of the time and connections we have together. When we had to pivot mid-semester in the spring, our students shared what gave them the greatest satisfaction—the mindful presence of their faculty, even in a virtual world. Let's keep that message front and center this fall.  Thank you for all you do.

With my best wishes to you and your families,



Patricia Prelock, Provost and Sr. VP