Welcome back to campus

Dear Twin Cities faculty and instructors,

The fall semester is nearly here! I hope that you had time to relax and recharge over the summer. I greatly enjoyed the State Fair, especially the Driven to Discover building where I got to meet many of our faculty and learn about their research.

Throughout the pandemic we have learned new ways to be present for our students and each other. This took tremendous effort and intentionality, and I appreciate your taking on this challenge. After two and a half years of the pandemic at the front and center of my focus, my hope for this academic year is that we can invest in our community together.

While online interactions allow us to stay connected in expanded ways, in-person interactions are central to the University experience and to our community. About 80 percent of our undergraduate courses will be delivered in person this fall and academic units are resuming in-person interactions, including seminars and academic conferences. While this transition can be unsettling, I know that many of you are looking forward to rebuilding our in-person communities.

We have learned much over the past few years about how to create robust educational opportunities for students. We know that many instructors are using multiple modalities, and that the landscape around makeup work for legitimate (excused) absences is changing. I firmly support the pedagogical expertise of our faculty to make these decisions, and expect that those decisions will be clearly communicated to students.

To help with this task, below is a link to some recommended syllabus language on three topics: course modality, legitimate absences, and COVID-19 policies. This language was developed over the summer by the members of the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC) and the Senate Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP) in collaboration with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. You may choose to use any, some, or none of this language in your syllabus, and we expect that every instructor would customize the language based on their own pedagogical practices.

Fall 2022 Recommended Syllabus Language

Relevant to this conversation is an updated version of the Student Conduct Code, which was recently approved by the Board of Regents. The most significant change is an updated definition of scholastic dishonesty to include unauthorized use of learning support platforms (i.e. Chegg, Course Hero, etc.). We have also added a definition of unauthorized collaboration, which means that students need to receive express permission from their instructors for collaborative work. Please link to this code in your syllabus, and be sure to provide guidance to students on what is permissible.

The arrival of autumn also comes with the possibility of another COVID-19 surge. We believe that the widespread availability and adoption of vaccination in our University community will continue to mitigate the severity of the virus. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor current guidance from the MDH and the CDC on COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases, and revise our approach if needed. Current information on vaccination, testing, masking, and other decisions is on the U’s Safe Campus COVID-19 Response page, and new information will also be disseminated in messages from Dr. Jakub Tolar, the Twin Cities campus public health officer.

Your flexibility, resilience, and commitment to teaching, research, outreach, and service are inspirational. Thank you for making this an institution of which we can all be proud. I wish you all the best for Fall 2022!

Sincerely yours,

Rachel T.A. Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost

email sent September 1, 2022 to all Twin Cities faculty and instructors scheduled to teach fall semester 2022