Challenging. Unprecedented. Disruptive. Historic. We have seen these and similar words used to describe the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. It strikes me as encouraging that these are the very same words we use to express our institutional motivation for innovation and discovery.
Higher education thrives on the pursuit of the untried, the unknown and the elusive, and it is precisely this dedication to uncovering truth and shaping understanding that drives us to scholarship, teaching, and creative activities.
Other words we also hear often lately are grateful, resourceful, compassionate, and connected. These sentiments are especially vital now as we work with our students in virtual classrooms. As their professors you have the unique privilege of keeping them connected to not just their academic work but their relationship to the University of Miami; reflect on that for a moment. Right now, you are a vital connection back to UM; this is a huge responsibility. You provide a special sense of continuity and are the face and the voice of the U. What is that face and that voice communicating?
At this difficult time, it is particularly important we are empathetic with the challenges our students are facing. Students are dealing with the very real personal impact of COVID-19 on their families, whether it’s health, economic, or emotional. They have returned home to learn online and each student’s situation is unique. We can and must help mitigate the stress of those variables we do control—multiple homework assignments, tests, and papers—by making sure that our efforts to evaluate their academic progress take into consideration the extraordinarily variable circumstances they are all facing. Give careful consideration to how you structure your tests and perhaps consider other tools that provide similar assessment and allow us to show ‘Canes care for ‘Canes.
To help students adjust to these new circumstances, for Spring 2020 only, the University is allowing the grading option of Credit/No Credit for undergraduate students and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory for graduate students in all classes. Additional information is available here
This is a time for all of us to evaluate our work and engage our creative potential. Below I’ve highlighted several stories that I hope provide you with the resources and inspiration to take your own work to the next level.
I plan to share periodic updates with you—consider this an invitation to an ongoing conversation.
Let’s use this time to innovate and prioritize creativity, to be present and connected, and to preserve the essence of what it means to be together in purpose.