Dear Faculty,

I hope you had a chance to watch President Garimella’s message to campus celebrating our successful first month and reflecting on the ways our community has pulled together to keep campus healthy and safe. As the President noted, “While it is certainly not the time to take a victory lap, we can feel justifiably proud of doing something many predicted was not possible.”

This week, I am writing again to share some important information that I hope will be helpful to you.

  • A communication was issued to students and families this week providing them with information on the spring 2021 learning options. We will again be offering an at-home option. You can learn more about the process and timeline here. Responses to frequently asked questions are also available here.
  • We have opened a new quiet study space for students on the 5th floor of Waterman in The Manor. This space is open 9:00am to 4:00pm Monday through Friday and has seating for 45 students inside and 6 students on the patio. If your students are seeking a space to study, or attend a remote class while they are on central campus, let them know this is an option. Also please remind your students that the tents around campus are open for this use unless an event is going on inside.
  • Beginning Friday, October 9, faculty can add Expanded Section Descriptions (ESDs) for their spring 2021 courses (direct link:  Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Article 16.20, faculty members must provide ESDs or a link to a recent syllabus for all of their course sections in the upcoming semester.  ESDs help students understand the nature of a course, its learning objectives, pedagogy, and methods of evaluation. The deadline for posting Spring 2021 ESDs is November 2. Chairs, Associate Deans, and Deans can view the status of ESD entries via the “Expanded Section Description Report” located on the Dean/Chair tab of myUVM in the Schedule of Courses Tools section. Courses excluded from the ESD requirement include: GRAD 901, 902, 903, 391 and 491; all OSSP, BUCK and ESOL.
  • The Academic Success Goals (ASG) developed during the spring 2020 semester have been posted. The ASGs were developed to support the Strategic Vision for UVM and to amplify our impact, and reflect priorities in Teaching and Learning, Knowledge Creation, and Engagement. The ASGs are the result of ideas, suggestions, and feedback from the members of the Academic Leadership Council and the faculty and staff in their respective units. Progress against these goals will be measured by the Office of Institutional Research. The Academic Success Goals should guide the work of all members of our community – faculty, staff, and students – who participate in, support, and contribute to our academic mission.
  • As we recently announced, UVM’s institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity began on October 1. A great way to take advantage of this benefit is to sign up for the Fall Writing Challenge October 19-November 1. The Daily Writing Challenge offers use of NCFDD’s platform to help track and time your writing sessions, and a chat stream where participants post encouragement and advice. To learn more about this opportunity, go to the Fall Writing Challenge link. If you have not yet activated your membership, click on “Become a Member,” and choose UVM from the dropdown menu. The deadline to sign up for the writing challenge is October 14, but there are many other benefits to membership even if the writing challenge is not a good fit for you right now, including special resources on managing in a COVID-19 world.
  • CTL is hosting a panel, Student Voices: Building Classroom Connection During a Pandemic, of current UVM undergraduate students who will share their perspectives on learning across modalities this fall, with a particular focus on how their faculty have addressed needs for connection and inclusion. Students will reflect on ways trust and community have been built in classrooms, what has been challenging or led to feelings of isolation or exclusion, and what faculty have done that has worked particularly well to foster learning. The panelists will share responses to some moderator-chosen questions and there will also be time for audience Q&A. The panel will take place Oct 19, 1:00 - 2:30pm; you can find registration information here.
  • CTL is also hosting Teaching Effectively Online, a 4-week, cohort-based, online course that prepares faculty to teach asynchronously online. In this course we’ll explore research-based best practices for designing courses, provide experience with a variety of tools, and perhaps most importantly, provide faculty a change in perspective by becoming an online student — a shift that’s been described as game-changing. The course will take place Oct 26 through Nov 22; you can find registration information here.
  • The Office of Community-Engaged Learning (CELO) will be hosting a faculty panel on Civic Learning Courses: Creative Adaptations to Covid Conditions. Three experienced faculty members will discuss how they developed a civic learning (CL) course project in response to COVID or turned a service-learning course into a CL course, when partners became unavailable.  The panel will take place Oct 22, 3:00-4:00 pm on Teams. More information is available at  
  • UVM continues to acknowledge and support the Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrated this year on Monday, October 12. Activities include a panel discussion with invited guests from noon to 1pm, and the Amá film screening at 6:00pm. The film tells an important and untold story: the abuses committed against Native American women by the US Government during the 1960’s and 70’s. You can watch the film on-demand now through October 12 at 6:00pm - use password: uV@Ma (case sensitive).
  • The Office of Sustainability has arranged for unlimited free student, staff and faculty registration passes for this year’s Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education, taking place virtually October 20-22. This includes three full days of live content and networking, plus thirty days of on-demand access afterwards. The theme of the conference is Mobilizing for a Just Transition, and keynote speakers include bestselling authors Ibram X. Kendi and Robin Wall Kimmerer. The conference is organized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Click HERE to register using your email address. On the Submit Payment page, enter discount code: UVMEDU093020 (this will drop your total to $0). If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to the Office of Sustainability at
  • Getting your annual flu shot is more important than ever this year. At this time, the on-campus flu shot appointments announced last week are fully booked. Human Resource Services is working to secure additional dates to announce soon. You can also get a flu shot at most pharmacies and health clinics, which would be fully covered under UVM’s health plan.
  • You can find detailed information on COVID-19 tests administered and results on the Weekly Testing Report. Last week’s student tests were running at a more than 99.98% negativity rate. Faculty and staff who are participating in testing voluntarily had a 100% negativity rate. In my weekly briefings with the Governor’s Office and the Vermont Department of Health, it has become clear that travel outside of Vermont is the most frequently cited reason by contact tracers for positive COVID-19 tests. Please be mindful of out of state travel and limit your travel to emergencies if at all possible. This is a message that we have been sending to our students as well.

We want to do all that we can to make certain our at-home students feel included in our campus community. Please take some time to consider how you are engaging the at-home advisees and students in your courses and do all that you can to increase their opportunities for connection with you and their fellow students.


Patricia A. Prelock
Provost and Senior Vice President
The University of Vermont


Patricia Prelock, Provost and Sr. VP