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VandenBosch: Suspension of in-person summer term courses

This message was sent to all CALS faculty and staff on 4/2/20. 

Dear colleagues,

See below for a message from Provost Scholz about the university’s decision to suspend face-to-face summer courses. Specifically, for CALS programs, please note the following:

  • If you had planned to teach an in-person or blended course:  You may change it to remote learning or cancel it outright (which was not a viable option in the middle of the spring semester, but is reasonable to do for summer courses in advance).  Either change should be made in SIS to reflect accurate information. Contact Academic Affairs with questions (academicaffairs@cals.wisc.edu).
  • Instructors who need assistance with converting their course for remote learning should reach out to Assistant Dean Sarah Barber in Academic Affairs (sarah.barber@wisc.edu).
  • If changes to your plans result in changes to personnel appointments for summer session, please contact your CALS HR manager regarding staff appointments or Assistant Dean for HR Todd Schry (todd.schry@wisc.edu) regarding faculty appointments.

I commend you for your ongoing resiliency and commitment to our missions of teaching, research and outreach.

Sincerely, Kate

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Dear Colleagues,

Today I want to share with you our decision to suspend in-person courses for Summer Term due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Summer Term will proceed with using alternative, non-face-to-face instruction. Students were informed about this decision last evening.

At the outset of this crisis, we held out hope that by the beginning of Summer Term, we would be welcoming students back to campus. We are making this decision now for two primary reasons.  First, we think it is important for students to know, as best we can, what they are registering for.  For undergraduates, summer registration started earlier this week.  We don’t know whether we will be able to offer face-to-face instruction in June or July.  Given this uncertainty, it seems the best policy is to commit to a mode of course delivery that we know we can meet. Second, we never want to have to do what instructors across campus have done in the last 3 weeks – alter the mode of instruction in a very limited period of time. By making a decision now, we allow instructors to plan and deign courses more purposefully than would be the case if we delayed the decision, seeking additional information.

There are, of course, some courses that require lab work or other hands-on coursework that cannot be offered through alternative delivery. Students in the past have chosen Summer Term to focus on these academically rigorous and applied learning opportunities. While in-person instruction is suspended for now, we remain open to the possibility of offering a limited number of these in-person courses later in the summer. We will monitor the situation and update you if it seems likely we can offer some in-person courses in the later sessions of Summer Term 2020.

Even with alternative delivery of courses, Summer Term 2020 remains an important opportunity for students to continue to make academic progress in a challenging time. Many of you have worked diligently to make additional courses available this summer, and the catalog of online courses will be our most robust offering ever. In such a challenging time, I am grateful for your ongoing response and dedication.

Karl Scholz
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Note: For more information, read this UW News article