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You are here: Mailcaster Archive Communications Faculty Announcements Plans for the Academic Year
Monday August 31, 2020 19:09:47
"Jennifer J. Raab" <presiden@hunter.cuny.edu>
Current Faculty
Plans for the Academic Year
 

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2020-2021 academic year at Hunter. I hope you have had some time to relax and recharge this summer following a difficult spring term. We remain deeply grateful for your dedication and commitment through the challenges of the pandemic. You made it possible for our students to complete their coursework and move closer to their goal of a college degree.

We write to share the good news that CUNY approved our proposed plans for operations for the fall semester outlined in our Focus on Fall Plan. Before we share important highlights of the plan, we want to thank you for making a successful and productive summer session possible.

As I wrote in my Daily News op-ed “More Than Ever, Summer is for School,” given the loss of summer jobs and internships, students had a unique opportunity to quicken their pace to graduation by enrolling in summer courses. We reached out to our generous donors to raise funds that made it possible for us to direct $1.1 million towards summer scholarships for our students. The scholarships and the hard work and support of our faculty resulted in a dramatic increase in our summer undergraduate enrollment—with a 39% increase from last year.

FALL 2020 PLAN

While we share portions of our plan below, we invite you to visit this web page to read the full plan.

Classes

In accordance with CUNY’s health and safety guidelines, Hunter is offering the majority of classes and student services online and approximately 10% of our classes in person. Working closely with the faculty, we determined that in-person learning is a critical part of pedagogy in a number of specialized areas including 1) the lab sciences; 2) studio and performance arts; and 3) clinical professions such as physical therapy and nursing. Select classes in these and other areas are returning to the main campus and Brookdale for in-person learning. This summer, we were pleased to support 47 science faculty in reopening bench research labs on the main campus and at the Belfer Research Building.  We were also able to open individual art studios for graduate students and art workshops for students' use at 205 Hudson Street. We want to thank faculty and staff for your efforts to implement these safe in-person learning and research opportunities.

If You Are Visiting Campus

Our priority continues to be the health and safety of our Hunter community. It is mandatory for every person to wear a mask while on campus. Please consult the University Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings and additional guidance from the CDC. We also require everyone on campus to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet and follow recommended hygiene practices. We will provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the campus. All safety protocols will be vigorously enforced. You can learn more about our general safety guidelines.

Everyone who visits campus, even if for a brief time to pick up materials, must complete the NYS COVID-19 Response—Return to Work Training before returning on-site. The 12-minute training video is housed on Blackboard. Additionally, everyone who comes on campus for any reason or length of time is required to complete a Wellness Check Survey in advance of every visit. If you were on campus over the summer, you completed a health screening using a Hunter app. We are now transitioning to a CUNY-wide system offered by the Everbridge Safety Connection Pro/Contact Tracing mobile app, where you can complete and submit the survey. You must answer five questions regarding possible COVID-19 exposure before each and every visit to campus. To log in to the app, you will need your CUNY login credentials (Username: Firstname.Lastname##@login.cuny.edu). Please review this guidance on how to use the app and complete the survey. You must complete the app survey before you come to campus. All visitors must also present a Hunter ID. For those in need of a Hunter ID, please email the helpdesk.

As was the practice over the summer, faculty and staff who wish to briefly visit the campus, to access supplies and material, must make an appointment. Faculty who wish to teach or work on campus should follow the protocol below for using our Faculty Resource Center.

Student Services and Support

Most of our student services, including advising and counseling and wellness services, will be offered remotely and maintain their usual schedules. We are working closely with our Office of Student Services and our Facilities team to open the 6th and 7th floors of the library to provide a safe place for students to comfortably prepare for classes and complete their coursework. We will also be opening our music practice areas, certain art facilities, and other specialized facilities. Use of all of these spaces will require a reservation. Please consult this website for more information.

There is significant demand for quiet and secure places where students can live and study even if their classes are remote. Therefore, in addition to making study spaces available on the main campus, we are opening the Brookdale Dorm and providing up to 600 students with single rooms. Residents at Brookdale will be required to follow guidelines that will be in place to protect the safety of all residents. If you learn of students having difficulty studying from home, you may want to direct them to this online application to reside at our Brookdale Dorm. Our food pantries at the main campus and Brookdale will be open as well.

Faculty Support for Online Teaching

I am gratified that so many of you took advantage of training opportunities to learn new online teaching skills this summer. This semester, we will continue to provide support for faculty members interested in developing their online teaching skills. Our virtual Ed Tech Office provides a space where individual faculty members can drop in, ask questions, and work with an educational technologist. Additionally, we will continue to offer live workshops that focus on the use of Blackboard, Zoom, and other online teaching tools. You can find information about upcoming workshops and Ed Tech office hours here. Faculty members will be able to continue accessing recordings of workshops and other information and resources here.

We are also continuing to respond to the technology needs of faculty members. Please email the helpdesk if you need technology, hardware, and software to effectively teach online. Please note that faculty and students will have remote access to specialty software from our computer labs through Splashtop. Further information about the availability of specialized software can be found here.

We are now pleased to add these new on-campus resources to support online instruction.

Center for Online Learning

To facilitate the production of high-quality online content, Hunter has created the Center for Online Learning in C105HN for recording video lectures. We invite you to use this multimedia space to develop course materials. Please email edtech@hunter.cuny.edu to learn more about the services offered and making a reservation.

Faculty Resource Center

In response to faculty requests for quiet spaces to complete their work and conduct synchronous classes, we have developed the Faculty Resource Center, housed in a suite that includes five soundproof rooms. The Faculty Resource Center, located on the ground floor of the North Building, will be available by reservation for three-hour blocks on Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm and, when possible, made available to faculty on a drop-in basis. Interested faculty members can make reservations here. As the semester progresses, we would appreciate your feedback on the support these spaces offer so that we can make necessary adjustments. In order to enforce safety protocols, we ask that faculty minimize use of individual offices and use the Faculty Resource Center if you choose to teach or prepare for classes on campus.

Remote Learning Policies

Faculty have raised a number of issues in connection with teaching in a remote environment. We want to draw your attention to a few relevant policies and ask that you visit the website of the Provost’s Office for additional information.

Credit/No Credit

In response to COVID-19, the CUNY Board of Trustees passed the Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy for Spring 2020, giving students the option to convert their letter grades to either credit or no credit. This semester, however, our standing Hunter credit/no credit policy will resume. Students may request credit/no credit only if they are eligible as outlined in Hunter’s policy, which can be found here.

Course Withdrawals

CUNY has issued a new policy regarding a student's ability to withdraw from a class. In Spring 2020, CUNY piloted a new policy that made it possible for students to withdraw from a class up until the last day of classes. Following assessment if its impact, this policy has become permanent. This semester, the deadline to withdraw from classes and receive a grade of “W” is December 13, 2020.

Requiring Cameras/Audio Participation and Recording Classes

Faculty have the prerogative to require students to turn on cameras during synchronous class sessions. We recommend that you include this requirement in a statement on your syllabus and explain it to your students early in the semester. Please note, however, the exception to this policy is if you are recording the class session. If you are planning to record a class session with student participation, a new CUNY policy states that students must be informed when a class session will be recorded, and students must be given the option to turn off their cameras and their audio under these circumstances.

Proctoring Software

We are working with CUNY and are confident that there will be test-taking software available in early October. Please look for an email with more information soon, and check the website as well. Most test-taking software programs require students to turn on their cameras so that they can proctor students taking the exam. If you intend to use proctoring software this semester, it is important to give students advance notice in your syllabus and clearly explain the test taking expectations at the start of the semester.

For more information about how these and other policies can be applied, please look at this webpage.

Support for Student Online Learning

During this time when we are not on campus together, we will be turning to you, our dedicated faculty and staff, to help us identify students who may need additional support and to direct them to resources to help them succeed.

As the semester progresses, we hope you will utilize our Early Alert system that facilitates communication between faculty and the Division of Student Affairs. You can also remind students to contact their advisors and our learning centers for guidance and assistance throughout the semester. Please remind students who find remote learning challenging to connect to CUNY’s “Are You Ready?” course that will be available on Blackboard later this week. The Remote Learning Tips and Resources page includes additional online resources, webinars, and workshops that will give students the skills necessary to succeed throughout the semester.

We also want to remind you of the many resources that Hunter has made available to students to help them be the best remote learners they can be. Our Laptop Loan Program continues to provide laptop/iPad and hotspot loans to students. You can direct students who do not have the technology necessary to succeed to this request form. Our mobile pantry also continues to make scheduled stops in four boroughs each week and has expanded to deliver technology, feminine hygiene products, and other supplies, in addition to food. We remain focused on assisting students who are facing financial difficulties and who are looking for mental health resources.

As you may have seen in the Chancellor's recent budget memo on the CUNY website, there are a number of financial constraints with implications for Hunter’s fall semester. In the absence of a CUNY board-approved annual budget, we are currently operating on month-to-month allocations, which reflect reductions from last year’s budget. For some of you, this has affected your course sizes and structures. We know these changes are not easy. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through a period of financial difficulties and necessary adjustments. These have been challenging times, but I am proud of how our faculty, staff, alumni, and friends have come together to provide our students a world-class education. A virtual campus has generated increased opportunities for faculty to share ideas and expertise across departments, disciplines, and schools, and I know this spirit of collaboration will benefit our students moving forward.

As we begin this term—with prioritized safety, strong enrollments, and a dedicated faculty—we are well positioned for a year of academic success. For 150 years, our motto—Mihi Cura Futuri (the Care of the Future is Mine)—has defined our mission. It has set the stage for generations of students who are working to change the world. Our shared commitment to a better future has fostered excellence in faculty scholarship and creative work. Despite the challenges we are facing, I look forward to working with you as we continue to create new knowledge and open doors, transform lives, and inspire students to become leaders and innovators in the classroom, our community, and beyond.

I hope you have a successful semester notwithstanding the many challenges and send my deepest appreciation for all you do for the Hunter community.

Jennifer J. Raab

 

 

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