April 21, 2020

UC Chair Kathleen Dolan reported she attended the Deans’ meeting last week. The Deans reported on status of their colleges. Department of Enrollment Management Interim Co-Leaders Dave Clark and Kay Eilers gave an update on enrollment for new and continuing students. Applications for Fall 2020 are down approximately 4%, but this is similar to enrollment trends for other UW system schools. K.Dolan also said that Governance representatives participated in a phone call with UW System President Ray Cross on Friday, April 17th, during which Cross discussed the approval of a furlough policy by the Board of Regents the previous day. President Cross indicated that the purpose of the policy was to minimize layoffs. K. Dolan observed that later that day, President Cross instituted furloughs for employees in the UW System offices.

K. Dolan reported that the Crisis Management Team (CMT) met Monday April 20th. The Travel ban has been extended to June 30th, with periodic reassessment of risk each month. All summer events on campus have been cancelled through July 31st. D. Clark and K. Eilers have converted new student orientations to online delivery, rather than face-to-face. At the CMT meeting, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administrative Affairs Robin Van Harpen reported that all campuses have been asked to submit a plan on how the funding received from the CARES Act will be spent. This funding can be spent over the next calendar year. Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Communications Tom Luljak reported he is in the process of scheduling a Virtual Town Hall for students, and is also considering scheduling one for parents. Another faculty/staff Virtual Town Hall will be held sometime in May. D. Clark and K. Eilers surveyed students at UWM to find out more about how they perceive things are going with the conversion to online instruction. So far, over 900 responses have been received, with most students indicating that things are going relatively well.

K. Dolan reported that Chancellor Mark Mone called a meeting of the Chancellor’s Leadership Team, involving representatives from governance. Furloughs were discussed. There are two types of furloughs: “Across the board” furloughs (experienced by the majority of UWM employees), and position-specific furloughs. Campus is moving quickly on position-specific furloughs, which will affect employees who cannot work remotely and who are not considered ‘essential’ employees, or who work in areas in which significant revenue has been lost (e.g. kitchens), or who are not “mission-critical” employees. These employees will be identified as such by Deans or unit heads. Position-specific furloughs will last several months; no faculty will be included in these furloughs. A message will go out to campus today about this.

Provost Johannes Britz attended the meeting, along with Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dev Venugopalan. They raised the issue of how sabbaticals have been affected for some on sabbatical for this semester or academic year, and stated a need to develop policy about disruption of work during the COVID-19 closures, and consideration of potentially extending some sabbaticals for a limited time given reasonable explanations for disruptions. UC discussed the need for faculty on sabbatical to have compelling reasons how their work has been affected by COVID-19. For example, need to provide child care may be more appropriate for an application for COVID-19 leave, rather than sabbatical extension. Different scenarios for how people might be affected, and how a policy could be applied fairly (e.g. those on sabbatical for the academic year vs. Spring semester) need to also be considered. D. Venugopalan stated that COVID-19 leave is available for all employees including faculty on sabbatical. There are 272 hours each employee can take between mid-March and May 2nd, and these hours are not counted against sick leave. UC will discuss this issue more next week.

Provost Britz reported that the Deans will meet tomorrow, along with many of the Associate Deans. They will engage in scenario planning for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, regarding instruction and budgetary planning. Norris Health Center Executive Director Dr. Julie Bonner will unpack Governor Tony Evers’ plan for WI from a higher education perspective. They will also discuss the financial implications if students do not return in person for Fall 2020. Some discussion will be had on how to add value to our instructors for online teaching, by investing in pedagogy. Interim Vice Provost for Research Mark Harris will talk about planning on research and implications for Summer and Fall 2020. Provost Britz also said that the Deans will discuss how UWM will need to change recruitment efforts at least for Fall 2020 and perhaps Spring 2021. He stated there may be a need to waive residency requirements. An unanswered question is whether or not the new Federal freeze on immigration will impact international students.

UC Member Bettina Arnold reported that the R1 workgroup met last week. She predicted that she will have a product to distribute at an upcoming UC meeting.

UC Member Julia Snethen reported that the Rules Committee is meeting on April 23rd.

UC Member Mark Schwartz reported that the Graduate Faculty Committee (GFC) met on April 20th. GFC has been planning to develop a leave policy for graduate students. Given the events regarding COVID-19, GFC will be developing an emergency policy, which should be distributed to UC sometime after the middle of May.

Secretary of the University Trudy Turner reported that both the Academic Staff Senate and Faculty Senate have each had their first meeting using Microsoft Teams. She reported that both have gone as well as could be expected, with record attendance in the Faculty Senate meeting (117 people, and only one Senator missing). She pointed out the need to keep letting people know the rules and procedures before and during the meeting, so that attendees can communicate if they wish.

B. Arnold reported that there are cases at other universities where students are filing lawsuits to get some portion of tuition returned, and asked if there is any inking of that for UWM. K. Dolan says no, so far, and pointed out that most UWM courses have still been held, rather than canceled. But, she also said that if Fall 2020 is delivered online, more investment will need to be given to improve pedagogy, as most courses are not really online but, rather, are “distance” or “remote” learning (per Laura Pedrick). She will raise this with Provost Britz at their next one-on-one meeting.

M. Schwartz raised concerns about increases in our reliance on technology being at odds with stated administration desires to reduce spending, given the age of many of our computers and other resources needed for online classrooms. K. Dolan said she would also raise this concern in the appropriate venue.

Academic Staff Committee Chair Leigh Wallace will attend next week’s meeting.