I am excited about the start of classes and seeing many of our faculty, staff and students on our lovely campus again. I thank each of you for stepping up and embracing the changes to our educational modalities. I hear more and more about innovative ways faculty are changing, modifying and updating your classes to maintain TCU’s personal connections to our students, both near and far.
Our faculty continue to impress me with your innovation and dedication. For example, I loved watching Dr. Billy Grieser’s entertaining video to prepare students for his finance class. He wrote the lyrics! I am impressed with Dr. Mikio Akagi’s technical guide, which has been featured in academic circles (internationally).
I will continue to answer some questions here, and am also pleased to report that FAQs for the TCU Connected Campus Plan are coming soon to the provost’s website.
Native American and Indigenous Peoples Day Symposium – cancelled
A message on behalf of Scott Langston, religion professor… It is with great regret that we announce the cancellation of TCU's 5th annual Native American and Indigenous Peoples Day symposium, scheduled for Oct. 5, 2020. The theme of this year's symposium addressed the crisis surrounding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Our keynote speaker was going to be one of the leading voices in the MMIW movement, Annita Lucchesi, executive director of Sovereign Bodies Institute. This is such an important issue that we will make it the theme of the 2021 symposium, held on the first Monday in October (Oct. 4, 2021). Please mark your calendars.
Thank you for your dedication, Dr. Langston, and for your work as TCU liaison to our Native American neighbors.
An abbreviated version of Frog Camp is coming to our campus on August 12! This beloved tradition is a vital part of TCU’s culture in welcoming our newest Horned Frogs. I applaud those of you who have made room in your colleges and schools for Frog Camp to take place in our classrooms. If you have been asked to open up spaces in your buildings for Frog Camp, I ask you to do so. Our Student Affairs colleagues are conducting this highly impactful face-to-face experience for our students. We want to provide them as much space as possible to keep everyone healthy and safe.
Inclusive Online Classrooms
I’ve been asked whether faculty can or should require students to turn on their video during classes to facilitate better engagement. I directed this question to our Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Requiring video could make a classroom feel less inclusive. Some students may not have access to advanced technology or private places to study. Some may wish to keep their home environment private during online courses. To facilitate inclusion in your classroom, please consider mechanisms that do not require video (e.g., reflective exercises), anonymously ask about access to technology, and ensure materials are accessible and mobile-friendly, such as PDFs. For additional strategies to incorporate inclusive excellence while teaching remotely or in physically distanced ways, see the Office of Diversity and Inclusion webpage.
Recording Class and Meetings
Classes and meetings held in Zoom (or a similar platform) are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Policy Act (FERPA). If recording, consider FERPA requirements. For example, identifiable information should not be shared with anyone not enrolled in the class; students should be notified in advance that you are recording; and students are permitted to turn off their camera and microphone and participate via chat. For additional guidelines see the Koehler Center Resources for Syllabus.
Promotion and Tenure
Some faculty members have concerns about the way COVID-19 will impact tenure-track careers. Anyone currently on the tenure track may request an extension now or any time before you are scheduled to go up for tenure, based on COVID-19 as an extraordinary experience. I encourage faculty, chairs and deans interested in exploring modifications to TCU’s tenure and promotion policy to work through your faculty senate.
Under normal circumstances, we would be approaching the most wonderful time of the year for many – our bright, beautiful campus, welcoming students into the promise of new academic growth and intellectual discovery. Though we are far from “normal,” our clean and beautiful campus is still here, our colleagues stand ready to support and engage with each other, and our students are eager to join the TCU community in person or virtually. I have such hope for us and such gratitude for all of you.