July 15, 2020 Update


Can I change to remote instruction given the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Texas?
President Trombley arrived on July 1st and is assessing the local and state landscape. She has two important calls with presidents from other institutions this week: one call with presidents from our athletic conference and one with presidents from the Associated Colleges of the South. She is collecting information from various sources and hopes to send out a communication to faculty and staff by Friday, July 17 that addresses where things stand at this moment. 

How do you begin to explore the possibility of remote instruction?
If you would like to explore the possibility of following the procedures sent out in June, please begin this conversation with the dean. We have approached requests with a broad interpretation of the circumstances that qualify and are open to additional queries. If you can wait until the end of the week and for guidance from President Trombley, that would be helpful.

How is the University making adjustments to common spaces in academic buildings?
All common areas on campus will be reconfigured to accommodate social distancing. To accomplish this, some furniture will be stored, and some may need to be discarded. If you have placed any personal furniture in a common area that you want to reclaim, please make plans to remove it no later than Friday, July 27. Please contact Laura Sewell (sewelll@southwestern.edu) if you have any questions.

What are the expectations of faculty in terms of accommodating students who indicate an interest in remote learning?
Faculty are expected to accommodate any student who indicates they are working with the University to engage in remote learning or is interested in exploring this option. Dave Seiler and Jen Smull are available as resources to both students and faculty as they navigate these discussions.

Will faculty be allowed to distribute paper assignments to students?
We are strongly encouraging faculty to avoid the use of paper in classes. Faculty who normally have paper assignments should consider attending faculty development sessions on whiteboarding, annotation, submitting assignments through Google or Moodle, and grading electronically.

Do I need to teach on an “A/B” schedule if I was assigned a classroom where the number of students exceeds the classroom capacity, even if it is only by 1–2 students?
In general, if the number of students exceeds classroom capacity, then you need to explore a rotating schedule for student instruction. There is a possibility that some students in your course will be remote for the entire semester. This circumstance could put classes back into the 100% capacity range if the number of students enrolled and student capacity are close.  We have also lowered caps to reflect capacity so that if students drop the course it could put the course back to 100% capacity. Faculty development sessions will address other potential solutions. You could have a small number of students rotate through being remote so that most of the students could be in class at the same time. If the cap and capacity are not close then “A/B” is the most likely solution.

Can you record on Google Meet?
Right now, Google has extended the ability to record video conference sessions at no cost to academic institutions until September 30th.  We are monitoring the situation and are committed to making sure we have access to this feature even if it requires an institutional financial commitment.

Is Google Meet coming out with additional features?
A timeline has not been announced yet but Google has indicated that it will add additional features to Google Meet.  These features include hand raising, meeting attendance, breakout rooms, Q&A, polling, additional moderator controls, backgrounds, jamboard integration [whiteboard] and more.  See this link for more information.


Will we be required to have a seating chart for each class?
Yes, we will be asking all faculty to create a seating chart for each class and have students sit in the same seat throughout the semester.  Faculty might consider doing a pre-class survey of students to assess which students might need accommodations in terms of seating. We are considering asking faculty to post the seating chart on Moodle to aid in contact tracing.

Will Fall Faculty Conference be held?
Yes, we will have some Fall Faculty Conference activities.  We are working on the schedule.  We are likely to gather faculty virtually on Monday, August 17 for opening remarks, advising will occur virtually with first year students on Wednesday, August 19, from 1-5PM and the President will hold a State of the University talk for faculty and staff on Thursday, August 20, from 12:30-1:50PM.  Faculty who have not participated in the optional summer foundational mini course will be required to participate in faculty development during the week of August 17-21 in lieu of other faculty development activities normally held on Monday and Thursday afternoons.

Will fall semester transfer work from another institution be accepted by Southwestern?
The Curriculum Committee only pre-approved online coursework for the summer.  Even if the pre-approval does not exist as it did for the summer, department chairs have the ability to accept online credit through the transfer approval form.  Please advise the students to check with department chairs ahead of time. 

Will there be any changes to the add/drop process that was put in place during the spring 2020 semester?
There will not be any changes to the online petition process for adds and drops through Self Service.  That said, for in-person courses, faculty need to pay attention to the capacity of their classrooms.  The Registrar’s Office will not process adds that increase enrollment beyond the adjusted classroom capacity.  Sean Smith will be sending out reminders about the add/drop process prior to Welcome Week.

How are international students being supported by Southwestern?
The University is pleased that the Trump Administration has agreed to rescind a directive that would have barred foreign students from the U.S. if in-person instruction was canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Office of Study Abroad and International Student Services continues to provide guidance, advising, and support to international students about continuing their Southwestern studies. International students may choose to remain in their home country for the full semester where they can continue to earn credits towards their degree at SU through remote learning.  Upon student request, faculty should accommodate the remote learning experience which will likely require some level of flexibility. International students engaging in remote learning are also being supported through the Center for Academic Success. Questions may be directed to Dave Seiler, Director of Academic Success.

Is the University upgrading air filters to efficiently remove particles less than 5 microns in diameter (including aerosols)? 
Facilities Management is installing the highest rated Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) filter that each individual air handler can accommodate.  The majority of the air handlers in Mood-Bridwell, Smith Library, McCombs Campus Center, Cullen, Fondren Jones, Fine Arts, Robertson, Olin, Prothro, Studio Arts, Perkins Chapel, and Mundy will be upgraded to either MERV-13 or MERV-14 rated filters. The remaining few air handlers in academic and administrative facilities will have MERV-8 rated filters due to the capacity of the air handlers. 

Is the University increasing the amount of air circulation from the outside, to dilute indoor air that might contain viral aerosol? 
The air quality of all buildings will be increased through the use of upgraded HVAC filters as mentioned above and/or changing filters on a more frequent basis. In addition, the flow of outside air is being increased to the greatest extent possible that will not compromise the space conditioning of any building.

Has the University considered the cumulative risk of re-using a classroom for multiple courses throughout the day, without a sufficient time interval between courses to allow the air to be completely replaced by the HVAC system?
Yes, the Scheduling and Social Distancing subcommittee of the Campus Readiness Task Force  has taken this into great consideration. The Registrar is scheduling classes accordingly. Each space will be given an adequate “rest” period between classes in order for the space to achieve several complete air exchanges prior to the next scheduled class.

What is the average air change per hour in classrooms?
Initial tests indicate that classroom spaces are getting complete air exchange every 7.5 to 15 minutes depending on the space.  We are planning on performing more measurements in each facility to confirm these numbers.  That being said we are confident that we are getting several complete air exchanges per hour for each space. 

Is the library open?
Yes, the InfoDesk is open for business. It is staffed and providing limited services by appointment or by request Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM.  Call the InfoDesk at 512.819.7333 or email infodesk@southwestern.edu with your library related questions.

Who will have access to the library in the fall?
Library access will be limited to faculty, staff and students in the fall. Entry will be by Pirate Card swipe at the east doors (facing the FAB). Special Collections and Archives will be open by appointment to Southwestern University faculty, staff, and students.  Library users will be expected to follow University policies on physical distancing and the use of masks. 

July 2, 2020


Will Matriculation Convocation be held in August?
Matriculation Convocation in the traditional format (in the gym with all faculty participating in regalia) will not be held.  Plans for some other type of alternate ceremonial kick-off are still under consideration; faculty participation would be optional.

What is the travel policy prior to our return to campus?
The University will be asking all faculty, staff and students to avoid travel 14 days prior to the beginning of instruction.  Travel outside the local area during the semester could result in the need to self quarantine for 14 days.  Please plan accordingly.

Have classroom assignments been finalized?
WebAdvisor shows your original classroom assignment (pre-pandemic) based on your initial preferences submitted by your department chair.  Several classes are likely to be moved to alternative classrooms and spaces to improve capacity as we are able.  We will have an update on classroom assignments before optional faculty development begins in July. 

Are academic buildings on campus open?
Faculty can come to campus at any point.  Currently all buildings are card access only so you likely only have access to your office building.  

What if I want to see my classroom space after room assignments have been finalized?
If your classrooms are in your office building, you will have access immediately.  If the classrooms are in other areas you might not be able to visit them until August 3.  We are looking into this.  We will send out powerpoint slides of furniture configurations when classroom assignments are finalized and announced in early July.

When will academic affairs offices open?
Academic Affairs offices such as the Registrar’s Office, Academic Success, Community-Engaged Learning, Advising and Retention, Study Abroad, and the Library will be staffed in person on campus beginning August 10. Many offices will be operating on an A/B schedule, with some staff working remotely at any given time.  Faculty and students who visit these offices will need to be masked and practice social distancing at all times. 

Will final exams be required to follow the published Final Exam Schedule?
Yes, even though we will be remote during finals week, final exams will still need to follow the published Final Exam Schedule which will be posted on the Registrar website in the coming weeks.

Will we use Qualtrics again in the fall for course evaluations?
Yes, in order to avoid handling paper, the plan is to use Qualtrics with some tweaks based on last spring’s experience.  The link to the form will be communicated to faculty the week of November 9.

What if a student comes to class without a mask on?
Masks are required in class and students cannot enter classrooms without them.  Language has been added to the Student Handbook that alludes to the expectation of compliance with COVID-19 related protocols.  Masking will be an expectation of being part of our community.  The Office of the Dean of the Faculty is looking into securing extra masks for faculty to have on hand in case a student has forgotten a mask to ease entry into the classroom.  If a student fails to bring a mask, the faculty member may offer a disposable mask to the student.  If the student does not comply, the faculty will ask the student to leave the classroom.  If there is continued resistance, SUPD will be called.  Additionally, the Dean of Students should be notified to engage the student conduct process.

Will students have the potential to take courses remotely?
We are working with students on a case by case basis.  In July, we plan to send an email to students to encourage them to work with us if they need accommodations for remote instruction.  Residence Life has also reached out to us through the on-campus housing deposit process that was completed on July 1st. Additionally, Jennifer Smull has been in touch with all students who have registered for accommodations and is working with them individually to determine their needs.

What should I tell students or advisors if I am asked about remote instruction?
Students who require accommodations, including remote learning, due to their own health conditions should reach out to Jennifer Smull, our accommodations specialist. Students who want to explore the possibility of remote learning for any other reasons should reach out to Dave Seiler, our Director of Academic Success. 

Do we have a testing plan for COVID-19 yet?
Not yet. Senior Staff met with the Health and Safety subcommittee on Friday, June 26 and has another meeting the week of July 7. The University is exploring the feasibility, logistics and costs of both in-take testing and surveillance testing, paying particular attention to CDC guidance.  The University is also exploring a test for symptomatic testing of students which will provide fast results. 

Can I wear a face shield instead of a face mask in the classroom?
In general, the current policy is that face masks are required in the classroom (and all other areas on campus).  A faculty member can use a face shield in addition to a face mask but face shields cannot be used in place of a face mask.  If there is a pedagogical reason for you and/or your students to wear face shields only, please reach out to the Dean’s office.  In all likelihood, if exceptions are made increased physical distancing will be required which could significantly affect classroom capacity on any given day. 

Will the University provide any guidance on an appropriate attendance policy for the fall semester?
Yes, the Instruction subgroup is discussing suggested language for an attendance policy.  Flexibility will be key as we will be encouraging students to stay home or in their residence hall room if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness.  

Will faculty be required to use Moodle as their learning management system (LMS) in the fall?
Faculty are strongly encouraged to use Moodle given the potential for having to pivot to remote learning at any point in the semester.  It would be very helpful for students if all instructors provided syllabi and at least a framework for the course (materials, dates) in Moodle. If instructors rely on a different learning management system (e.g., Canvas, Google classroom), students should be able to go to the class Moodle site and be redirected from there.  The University only provides technical support for Moodle.

When will blended instruction models be finalized?
The Instruction subgroup of the Campus Readiness Task Force met with Department and Program chairs on July 1 to get feedback on the models it has been developing.  Faculty will likely receive revised overviews of the models next week.  An optional  faculty development session that talks faculty through the models will be provided more than once over the summer; it will likely be repeated during virtual fall faculty conference sessions.  

What is the purpose of the blended instruction models?
These models are guides to help faculty fit their pedagogy to various constraints that have emerged in relation to student and faculty health and safety (e.g., fixed classroom furniture, six feet physical distancing, masking, the potential of remote students, etc.).  Faculty can choose different models for different classes or even combine elements as appropriate.

Are department budgets still frozen?
Yes, department budgets are still frozen even though the new fiscal year began on July 1st.  They are likely to be frozen at least until after the 12th class day. Any requests before that time should go through the Dean. Requests directly related to instruction are likely to be supported.  

June 19, 2020 Update


Will students who opted for CR/NC grades in the spring be eligible for the Dean’s List?
The completion of at least 12 academic graded credits is still required to be named to the Dean’s List for the spring semester.  This information was included in the email to students and advisors about the CR/NC option.  Dean’s List letters will be mailed within the next couple of weeks.

When will we update students on campus readiness work?
Shelley Story sent a communication to students on Thursday, June 18.  The information sent to students is on our website.

How long will the hiring freeze remain in place?
The hiring freeze will remain in place for the foreseeable future.  President’s staff will reassess the policy after the official 12th class day data in the fall.  Given the anticipated financial strain next year, it is unlikely to be removed in 2020-21.

How long will the department budget freeze be in place?
Department chairs will receive budget guidance early in July.

Will classrooms be able to accommodate circle discussions?Yes, based on faculty feedback from the listening session this week, the scheduling and social distancing subgroup is offering the option of turning the desks on the perimeter of the rectangle configuration to face inward to provide the benefits of facing one another.  Even though it would technically be a rectangle, not a circle, the subgroup felt the benefits of a circle discussion could still be met with this solution.  Desks in the middle of the classroom would need to remain in place and unoccupied.  The desks on the perimeter would need to return to a forward facing position at dismissal.  Rooms will be assigned based on the full capacity of the room.  Once a faculty member receives a room assignment they can explore the effects of only using the desks on the perimeter.  Depending on the size of the room this is likely to reduce capacity by 2 to 8 seats.  Using the perimeter “circle” solution might result in the need to adopt an A/B meeting schedule similar to blended instruction model #2 being discussed by the instruction subgroup.  

What options are available for faculty who are trying to accommodate child care demands connected to changes implemented by schools and daycares related to COVID-19?
While admittedly not perfect in all situations, faculty have the option to change current class times to evening slots which might help with those who are able to share child care demands with a partner.  Evening slots will still allow faculty to have real time in-person interactions with our students which is a current University priority given our plans to bring students back to campus. In order to minimize possible conflicts in student schedules, evening courses will be assigned in the following way: 

  1. Current Monday/Wednesday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning classes may reschedule for 7:30-8:30 p.m. on Monday/Wednesday/(Friday) 
  2. Current Monday/Wednesday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday afternoon classes may reschedule for 9:00-10:00 p.m. on Monday/Wednesday/(Friday)
  3. Current Tuesday/Thursday morning classes may reschedule for 7:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday/Thursday
  4. Current Tuesday/Thursday afternoon classes may reschedule for 9:00-10:00 p.. on Tuesday/Thursday
  5. Priority will be given to classes not required in the major.

When is the deadline to request evening instruction?
The deadline is Monday, June 22, at 5PM.  Requests should be made to Sean Smith (seansmith@southwestern.edu) in the Registrar’s office with a CC to your department chair.  

Why is the turnaround time so tight for the requests for evening course slots?
The Registrar hopes to reassign classes to classrooms based on adjusted room capacities by July 1 so that faculty can begin to prepare their pedagogical approaches with this information.  In order to meet this deadline and best maximize filling rooms to full capacity, all variables need to be understood before the reassignment process begins. 

What happens if students have conflicts due to changes to their course schedule, such as moving a course to an evening time slot?
We will notify students that a course has changed time slots and encourage them to make sure this has not created a conflict in their schedule.  There will certainly be some instances where students will have to go through the drop/add process.  We will try to focus on elective courses, ideally ones with more than one section so that students have options for switching sections.  The process will not be problem-free; however, we will work with students through their advisors and department chairs to find solutions as best we can.  We are hopeful that the benefits of spreading class times in terms of mitigating risk of exposure will outweigh the costs of schedule conflicts and the necessity of engaging in a drop/add process. We will take the costs and benefits into consideration during the review process once all requests have been submitted. 

Will outside speakers be allowed on campus?
No, outside speakers, performers, or other visitors will not be invited to any campus event or classroom.  This provision was re-discussed after the faculty listening session.  Due to both health and safety concerns and equity and fairness across departments (academic and nonacademic), this provision will remain in place during the fall semester.  Virtual outside speakers for courses are a possibility with modest honorarium. 

Will office hours be allowed in faculty offices if faculty are comfortable with this?
No, all office hours will be held remotely.  This provision was revisited after the faculty listening session.  Due to the additional burden placed on Facilities staff to clean offices, health and safety concerns around physical distancing, and the power dynamic between students and faculty (where students might feel this is not an option but a requirement), office hours will be held remotely.  

What is the academic calendar for the fall?
The academic calendar for fall 2020 can be found on the Registrar’s page.  As approved by the Curriculum Committee, the Labor Day and Fall Break holidays have been eliminated; instead, we will hold class on these days to reduce the number of times students return home.  We plan to continue in-person instruction on campus through the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Classes will resume with remote instruction on the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving break.  The remaining three days of the semester will be reserved for music juries, capstone presentations and review.

Will the instruction subgroup dictate one model for blended instruction?
No, faculty will have a choice among the finalized suggested models and even these models can be modified or combined to meet the needs of particular classes.  Courses do need to conform to the general instructional principles and safety guidelines.

Will I have to submit a proposal for approval for the pedagogical model I choose to adopt?
No, faculty will receive faculty development on the models and can make choices that best fit the needs of their courses within the parameters of the general instruction guiding principles and safety guidelines.  

What if my course cannot accommodate the general instructional principles and safety guidelines, such as the one hour limit on instruction?
If you are not able to accommodate the general guiding principles for instruction and safety guidelines, you should initiate a discussion with your department chair and the Dean.

What are the general instructional principles?
In the previous FAQ, the following guiding principles and constraints for instruction were noted:

  1. All students should have opportunities for regularly scheduled direct real-time engagement with their classmates and instructor. This should include in-person classes unless the faculty member has received approval to exclusively work remotely. 
  2. Faculty members should hold class sessions during each course’s normally scheduled times (as listed on WebAdvisor).
  3. In order to maintain appropriate physical distancing during classes (with individuals spaced at least 6 feet apart and all wearing masks), classroom furniture should not be moved. As a result, placing students in small closely clustered groups will not be possible.
  4. Some students may be required to engage remotely (for the entire semester or temporarily, due to health issues or if placed in quarantine). Moreover, it is possible that a student may only be able to participate asynchronously. Therefore, we are asking faculty to provide an equitable path to success in the course for all such students.   

What are the health and safety protocols for classes and classrooms?

  • Masks will be required during class.  
  • Classrooms will be physically distanced with six feet between students and 8 feet between the faculty member and students.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be present in all classrooms.
  • In most cases, classes will be limited to one hour to limit viral load. 
  • Supplies will be available for students to clean desk surfaces upon entry (we are working on the logistics of this one)
  • Staggered class dismissal times
  • 15-20 minutes between classes
  • We will have traffic flow guidelines in all buildings.
  • Classroom furniture will be fixed.
  • No outside speakers will be allowed.
  • Office hours and advising will be remote.

Will the University provide masks?
Yes, reusable and washable masks (2 per person) will be provided to students, faculty, and staff. 

What are the expectations for faculty being on campus in the fall?
We expect faculty to be on campus to teach, but all other work—office hours, advising, committee meetings, etc. - will be conducted remotely.  While faculty can work in their offices, we do not envision faculty or faculty and staff engaging in-person as we conduct other university business. We are focused on classroom instruction.

What steps are being taken to limit exposure to aerosol particles in classroom spaces?
The physical distancing, masking and one-hour limit on instruction are all measures that are being put in place to mitigate risk of exposure.  In addition, we are increasing the air handling capability of the rooms.  All building systems are being examined. 

Why have we landed on one hour as the standard guiding principle for class time?
The classroom time limit is one of many precautionary measures we are putting into place. An hour helps us stagger dismissal times and increase the amount of time between courses.  It poses larger constraints on labs, studios and once a week seminar courses.  We are setting up a process for faculty who teach longer classes to propose alternative solutions to these constraints, but in the end the health and safety of faculty and staff and students will remain our priority. 

How will FYS/AES be conducted during Welcome Week?
In general, the plan is to have class daily in-person during Welcome Week for one hour a day and then supplement with online modules or asynchronous activities.

Why have we rescheduled Homecoming to spring 2021 but are moving forward with Commencement in fall 2020?
Part of the answer is scale.  Homecoming involves bringing 3000 alums back to campus from all over the country for several days.  Commencement, while still large, is more contained.  We expect 250 families for two hours on one day in a ceremony outside with seating six feet apart across the mall. 

Will October 2020 Commencement be required for faculty?
No, the Dean has made this an optional event for faculty.  In the future we will return to it being a required event but, given the circumstances we find ourselves in, that requirement will be waived in the fall and faculty can participate as they are  comfortable.

Will the University conduct COVID-19 testing?
The health and safety subgroup is working on testing strategies and potential protocols.  This work is ongoing and the University is not certain at this point in which direction we will go.  There are supply and cost constraints and new information emerges daily.  We are seeking out advice from experts.  We are discussing two types of testing—symptomatic testing which is a given and surveillance testing which is more complicated.  It is not certain what protocols we will adopt at this point. 

Will there be a faculty meeting over the summer to vote on the recommendations from the Campus Readiness Task Force?
No, faculty will not vote on recommendations from the Campus Readiness Task Force.  These recommendations go to the president and the board.  Faculty have been and will continue to be engaged in the process through listening sessions, weekly FAQs, faculty representation on the task force and the fine arts subgroup of the task force, discussions with Curriculum Committee and the FYS/AES Committee, individual engagement with several department and program chairs and instructors of courses over 30, and the instruction survey. 

Why are there so many rules?
The rules being implemented are directly related to ensuring the health and safety of our community members and mitigating the risks of exposure to COVID-19.  Faculty will continue to have complete control over the content of their courses.  Faculty will need to adjust, and in all likelihood at least partially redesign their courses, due to the classroom capacity constraints, one hour limits on instruction, and the possibility of having students in class who have accommodations for remote instruction related to medical conditions connected to COVID-19. 

June 9, 2020 Update


When is the deadline for determining if spring course evaluations are reviewed by my department chair and the dean?The deadline is July 1. Please contact Susan Lamb (lambs@southwestern.edu) if you wish to remove spring 2020 course evaluations from review.

When is the deadline to submit a written request for extended remote teaching in fall 2020?
The deadline is Friday, June 12.  Please immediately notify your department chair and the dean of your intention to apply.  Materials should be submitted by June 12.

Why is the deadline for the written request for extended remote teaching so tight?
This information is critical to our classroom assignment and faculty development planning.

When is the extended deadline for Southwestern University’s Phased Retirement Option program beginning in spring 2021?  
The deadline was extended from April 30 to July 15 due to the COVID-19 emergency situation.  See the email from Elma Benavides dated May 26 for more details.

What health protocols are currently in place on campus?
All persons (staff, faculty, students, vendors, and visitors) on campus are required to practice the following health protocols during the summer:

  • A mask or cloth face covering that covers an individual’s nose and mouth is required at all times in all indoor and outdoor campus spaces unless the individual is  alone in a private office or a private space. Here are the CDC guidelines for the wearing and care of cloth face coverings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/cloth-face-covering.pdf
  • Everyone must practice social distancing – maintaining a separation of six feet – at all times and in all indoor and outdoor campus spaces.
  • Individuals should frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Anyone who is exhibiting a high fever or other symptoms must stay away from campus.

What are the results of the classroom inventory that assessed classroom capacity based on social distancing?
Classroom capacity, once furniture was configured in line with social distancing protocols of a six foot diameter, averaged 48%.  WebAdvisor shows your original classroom assignment (pre-pandemic) based on your initial preferences submitted by your department chair.  Several classes are likely to be moved to alternative classrooms and spaces to improve capacity as we are able.

What are the potential implications of an average 48% classroom capacity?
Some classes will not be able to meet with all students in attendance in the classroom at one time.  We are exploring several blended instruction models to accommodate this constraint.  We ask that faculty wait to consider course design until their classroom assignments have been finalized, as the set room configuration and capacity could have implications for your pedagogical approach.  

What alternative spaces are being considered for larger classes?
Courses that have 25 or more students could be assigned to larger spaces to accommodate the full course.  Alternative spaces include, but are not limited to, the Walzel gym, the Athletic Field House, the McCombs Ballrooms and Alma Thomas Theater.  As mentioned in the previous  FAQs we are putting the idea of outdoor classroom spaces on hold due to concerns over air circulation under tents as well as technology constraints (not to mention the heat).

What are the guiding principles and constraints that are guiding campus readiness work regarding instruction and scheduling?

  • All students should have opportunities for regularly scheduled direct real-time engagement with their classmates and instructor. This should include in-person classes unless the faculty member has received approval to exclusively work remotely. 
  • Faculty members should hold class sessions during each course’s normally scheduled times (as listed on WebAdvisor).
  • In order to maintain appropriate social distancing during classes (with individuals spaced at least 6 feet apart and all wearing masks), classroom furniture should not be moved. As a result, placing students in small closely clustered groups will not be possible.
  • Some students may be required to engage remotely (for the entire semester or temporarily, due to health issues or if placed in quarantine). Moreover, it is possible that a student may only be able to participate asynchronously. Therefore, we are asking faculty to provide an equitable path to success in the course for all such students.  

When will we learn more about the blended instruction models of instructions being considered?
The instruction subgroup is preparing a Qualtrics survey for faculty regarding the three models under consideration.  We will not select one singular model.  Some version of all the options being discussed will remain available.  We are surveying faculty to get a sense of how these models might be implemented in their classes.

How will office hours and advising appointments be handled in the fall?
Normally, office hours and advising appointments should be conducted remotely to prevent congregating in the hallways, to promote social distancing and to reduce the need for additional office cleaning. 

What if I am getting tired of reading FAQs and want to talk to a real person about the campus readiness work?
The Dean will hold an optional information session about campus readiness work on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 from 12-1 PM via RingCentral to provide live updates and listen to faculty feedback.  Watch for a meeting invitation.

May 28, 2020 Update


When do faculty need to decide on whether spring 2020 teaching evaluations are put in their professional file to be reviewed by their department chair and the Dean?
We are extending the previously announced deadline to make this decision to July 1.

Will faculty and staff be on campus this summer?
Faculty who requested to use their offices in the spring semester can continue work into the summer. Facilities services in buildings are limited so faculty should operate on a “trash in/trash out” basis–that is, please remove your own trash on a daily basis.  Some additional personnel will return to campus beginning in June.  Admissions tours will resume on June 8.  Science faculty can begin to request to use lab space for research in June as well.  If you plan to work in your office in the summer, please reach out to the Dean if you have not done so already.

What protocols will be in place for those on campus in the summer?
All faculty, staff and visitors to campus will be required to wear a face mask and socially distance.  Water fountains also will not be in operation.  More information will be coming out soon.  

What is the role of the Campus Readiness Task Force?
The Campus Readiness Task Force will make recommendations to the President regarding issues related to bringing faculty, staff and students back on campus in the fall.  The final decision- making authority rests with the President.  

What does the current academic calendar for fall 2020 look like?  
In line with President Knobel’s announcement on May 28, the University plans an on-campus start on August 24.  In-person instruction will end with the dismissal for Thanksgiving break.  Classes will be conducted on Labor Day and the Monday and Tuesday of what is normally fall break.  These holidays are being eliminated to discourage students and faculty from travelling.  Some kind of distance learning will occur for the week after Thanksgiving break–this could be remote instruction, study days, review days, etc.  The campus readiness task force is currently discussing options.  Final exams will be conducted remotely.

Is a late start off the table?
No, depending on developments at the local, state, and national level, contingency plans, including different academic calendar options, might have to be engaged later in the summer.

What work is being done to assess our ability to conduct in-person instruction in the fall?

  • Facilities Management staff are conducting a classroom inventory to provide new classroom capacity numbers based on configuring classrooms with student seating with a six foot diameter.  Classroom capacity will provide necessary information that will inform scheduling options.
  • Slight adjustments to the grid are being considered to stagger classroom start and dismissal times by five minute increments to reduce traffic flow in building.
  • New classroom spaces are being explored.
  • The feasibility of delivering some courses (e.g., labs, studios, FRAs) that pose challenges in both an online and an in-person format with social distancing and health protocols is being reviewed.
  • Hand sanitizer stations, seating charts (to aid contact tracing), set furniture configurations, and designated building entrances and exits are also being discussed.

Will we have outdoor classroom spaces?
Due to concerns over weather and air circulation in 100+ degree temperatures under tents, the consideration of outdoor spaces as classroom spaces has been put on hold.  The scheduling and social distancing subgroup will reassess the need to explore outdoor spaces after the classroom inventory is complete.  The group is discussing the possibility of making outdoor spaces such as Mood patio, McCombs patio, FSJC patio, etc. reservable during the fall semester for some outdoor instruction.

When should I begin preparing my courses for the fall?
It is understandable that faculty want to begin making class plans now.  However, at this point and until a decision regarding modes of instruction (i.e., what types of hybrid flexible models we might be adopting) is announced, it seems to make the most sense for faculty to do some general preparations, but to hold off on detailed planning lest they have to do it all over again.  

When should I begin preparing my Moodle site for fall classes?Given the uncertainty surrounding the mode of course delivery in the fall, it is recommended that you wait on developing your Moodle site until more information about the fall is available in early July.

What options will be available for faculty regarding mode of delivery of instruction?
The instruction subgroup is working on a set of guiding principles for remote and in-person hybrid flexible instruction scenarios.  If we move to in-person instruction, some in-person interaction with students will be expected unless extenuating/likely medical-related circumstances prevent such contact.  

What if I am immunocompromised and need to continue to work remotely after we have returned to in-person instruction?
The Dean and HR are collaborating on a procedure for the fall semester for faculty who may have medical issues directly related to the COVID-19 emergency situation and who may need to request to work/teach remotely in the fall.  We plan to distribute the procedure to faculty in early June and ask that faculty who think they might need to pursue this option to reach out as soon as possible.  Please note:  it is not necessary to disclose medical-based reasons to the Dean - confidentiality of medical/health issues will be handled by the HR department to ensure privacy/confidentiality.  

When will faculty development opportunities for the fall be available?
The Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship will begin providing optional faculty development opportunities for course planning after the fourth of July holiday and throughout the rest of the summer.  Registered participation in summer faculty development will likely replace the need for some required sessions of fall faculty development (i.e., in all likelihood, you can complete some faculty development over the summer and be exempt from taking some required sessions in the fall).

May 18, 2020 Update


When will course evaluations be made available to faculty?
Susan Lamb is working on processing course evaluations with plans of having them distributed to faculty the first week of June.  The process is taking a bit longer than normal given the new instrument that was used.

What is the current status of faculty professional travel awards for 2020-21?
Normally, we would have shared the results of the Awards and Honors Committee work in reviewing travel award requests by the end of the semester. Because of the hold on all SU-sponsored non-essential travel, we are delaying the announcements.  Faculty should not make hotel or travel arrangements with their corporate card until the travel hold has been lifted and funding for faculty professional travel has been released.

What will the FYS/AES program look like in the fall if there is a delayed start?
The FYS/AES Committee is working with the current FYS/AES faculty on plans to begin the program remotely over the three weeks prior to the start of regular classes.

When will graduates receive their diplomas?
Diplomas will be mailed to students the last week of May.

Will students be studying abroad in the fall?
In the interest of student and faculty safety, the London Semester has been cancelled.  Program providers will be making decisions about other study abroad programs, in consultation with Southwestern, over the next month. 

If I decide to extend my tenure clock by one year, when will my junior sabbatical occur?
Your junior sabbatical will occur in your fourth year on the tenure track under all circumstances.

Can I do individual research in my science lab?
No. We will consider whether to slowly allow lab access to faculty with social distancing (and ideally individual use) the first week of June.  Student access to labs will not be allowed this summer.  Currently, aside from animal care and equipment servicing, faculty should not be in labs for research.

What is the role of the campus readiness task force?
The campus readiness task force will make recommendations to the President regarding issues related to bringing faculty, staff and students back on campus in the fall.  The final decision- making authority rests with the President.  

How often is the campus readiness task force meeting?
It is meeting on a weekly basis.  Several additional sub-groups have been established to explore specific issues in detail.  In academic affairs we have six subgroups including: instruction, scheduling/social distancing, fine arts, library, student success/accommodations, and international students.

Who is on the instruction subgroup as part of the campus readiness task force work? 
Julie Sievers, Melanie Hoag, Alisa Gaunder, Kendall Richards, Scott McLean, Julie Cowley, Todd Watson and Daryl Tschoepe are serving on this subgroup.  

What are the main issues the instruction subgroup is considering? 
Some questions the instruction subgroup is considering include:

  1. What instruction models do we need to develop and provide faculty development and technology support for?  We need to define a discrete number of options and develop specific examples of these options so that there is some consistency across instruction.
  2. What capacity do we have for in-person instruction? (Overlaps with the social distancing/scheduling subcommittee)
  3. Can we outfit faculty with tools (software/hardware) to be successful in meeting their instructional needs independent of space? 

Please feel free to reach out to members of the committee with ideas or questions.

Who is on the scheduling/social distancing subgroup as part of the campus readiness task force work? 
Sean Smith, Rick Martinez, Maha Zewail-Foote, Martin Gonzalez, Alisa Gaunder, Kendall Richards, Glenn Schwab, and Julie Cowley are members of the scheduling/social distancing subgroup.  

What issues is the social distancing/scheduling subgroup considering?
Some questions the social distancing/scheduling subgroup is considering include:

  1. What is the University standard for classroom/meeting room capacity?
  2. Are there a set of classes that cannot be delivered effectively both remotely and in person following health/social distancing guidelines?
  3. What additional spaces (including outdoor spaces) on campus might be used for classrooms?
  4. How might social distancing measures impact scheduling?
  5. What resources are needed to promote health and safety in classrooms?

Please feel free to reach out to members of the committee with ideas or questions.

Who is on the fine arts subgroup as part of the campus readiness task force work and what issues is this committee considering?
Laura Sewell, Kendall Richards and the department chairs in the fine arts are participating in this subgroup.  This subgroup is considering issues related to performances and creative works and social distancing as well as event planning. Please feel free to reach out to members of the committee with ideas or questions.

Who is on the library, student success/accommodations and international students subgroup as part of the campus readiness task force work and what issues is this committee considering?
These groups are composed of the staff members in these areas–the library leadership team, the academic success and advising and retention units and the integrative learning units respectively.  They are considering issues related to their areas including library and research services, student accommodations and academic support, and international students and study abroad.

April 24, 2020 Update


When is the drop, withdrawal, involuntary withdrawal, and Credit (CR/NC) deadline?
All of these deadlines occur at the same time: Wednesday, April 29, at 5:00pm (the last day of classes, but before final exams).  Students who petition for an incomplete grade must submit the request for CR/NC by the April 29 deadline.   

Under what circumstances can a student be given an incomplete grade?
Incomplete grades can be approved if there is a “medical emergency or other situation beyond a student’s control.”  Circumstances related to COVID-19 are acceptable for an incomplete grade.  Faculty should not assume that COVID-19 is the reason for a student underperforming or not submitting an assignment.

If a student takes an incomplete, can they decide to take the course CR/NC at a later date?
No, the CR/NC option must be selected by the April 29 at 5:00pm deadline even if a student is taking an incomplete.

What grades should faculty enter at the end of the semester?Faculty should only enter the earned letter grade (A, B, C, D, F), I (incomplete grade), X (possible honor code violation), or AU (audit).  Courses coded as Pass/D/F, CR/NC, or W are entered by the Office of the Registrar.  All grades - including senior grades - are due Wednesday, May 13 at 5:00pm.  The “Last Date of Attendance” field must be completed for all grades of “D” or “F.” 

Will there be faculty development opportunities for summer school faculty as they prepare their courses online?
Yes, the CTLS is planning to engage summer school faculty in faculty development as they convert summer school courses to remote teaching.  More information will be coming out soon. 

Can I increase my summer school course cap if I have students on the waitlist?
Yes, faculty can go beyond the 12 student course cap for summer school courses if they want to increase the course size.  

Why are we having a faculty meeting?
The main purpose of the faculty meeting is for the president to provide an update on the current situation as well as on future planning.  Faculty are encouraged to come with questions.  The president and senior staff will hold a similar town hall for staff on Monday, April 27th to provide the same update and opportunity for questions.  Given the complexity of a virtual meeting we tried to keep the agenda as simple as possible.  The few voting items will be conducted as an anonymous poll through RingCentral.

How do I join the faculty meeting?
You will need to click on the link at the top of the faculty meeting agenda that was distributed by Barbara Jean on Thursday, April 23rd.  This meeting will be held in RingCentral Meetings — which works exactly like Zoom.  If you’ve never used RingCentral before, you may be prompted to download a small file before joining.  This should happen seamlessly and then your session should begin.  If you have not used RingCentral please consider joining the meeting 10-15 minutes early.  If you have technical difficulties prior to the start of the meeting, you can contact Kendall Richards for assistance at 512-863-1556.

Who will moderate the faculty meeting?
The Dean of the Faculty will moderate the meeting.  To request to speak, please click on the “raise-hand” icon in the Participants sidebar.  The moderator will monitor this and formally recognize individuals requesting the floor by inviting them to speak.  Please do not use the Chat feature to request to speak or to register general comments.

Will the teaching, advising and research awards be given at this remote faculty meeting?
No, these awards will be given at the first in-person faculty meeting in the fall.  The virtual format presented several challenges for coordinating student presenters, etc.  As stated above, the goal was to keep the faculty meeting as simple as possible and focus on disseminating information about our current situation.

Why are we considering several calendars at the faculty meeting?
President’s staff was asked to develop contingency plans for the fall.  These options were shared with the Curriculum Committee.  Based on this discussion, the four potential late start date options were reduced to two.  The hope is to get general faculty endorsement of potential fall scenarios.  We are not in a position to have a definitive plan for the fall at this time.

When will the University make a final decision on a start date for the fall semester?
The hope is to announce plans for the fall in June to give students and faculty enough time to prepare.

How will FYS/AES be affected by the proposed calendar options?
The FYS/AES Committee is meeting today (Friday, April 24) to discuss options for FYS/AES in the various scenarios suggested.

April 17, 2020


Are we required to distribute course evaluations?
Yes, we feel it is important to allow students the opportunity to provide feedback on their courses. 

Is a synchronous class meeting required for course evaluations?
If possible, faculty are asked to hold a synchronous class meeting with their students prior to the last day of class to explain the course evaluation process and to complete the form.  If a synchronous class meeting is not possible, the course evaluation form will be available for students to complete beginning Monday, April 20, through Wednesday, April 29.   

How will we distribute course evaluations?
We are using Qualtrics to collect course evaluations from students this semester.  The link to the form will be made available to students by faculty in the Announcements section through Moodle.  You can also use email.  Both options are described below. It is critical that students provide the correct and full course number on the form because that is how the forms will be sorted.  Here are revised details about posting an Announcement or sending an email:

Moodle [moodle.southwestern.edu]

Announcements in Moodle

  • Please do not post the Announcement until the class meeting.
  • Within your course Moodle site, go to Announcements, which appears at the top of your Moodle course site.
  • Click Add a new topic
  • Title the topic, “Course Evaluation - BIO54-103-02” (include your full course number, including section).  
  • Copy and paste the Message text and modify as needed.

Students will complete online course evaluations this semester by clicking on this link: 20SP Student Course Evaluation.  The evaluation may be completed any time between Monday, April 20, and Wednesday, April 29.  The full course number provided in the title of this Announcement must be provided on the course evaluation form as a response to Question #1.  

  • When you are ready to release the Announcement, click Post to forum
  • Need more help with this?  For a step-by-step outline for how to create an Announcement, see this tutorial

Inform Your Students of the Announcement using Messages

  • Please wait to send the Message until the class meeting
  • Go to Participants
  • Click Select All at the bottom of the list
  • choose Send a message from the options under With selected users…
  • Paste into the Message:

Course Evaluation - BIO54-103-02 information is available in Announcements

(include your full course number, including section)

  • click Send message to X people


  • Please wait to send the email until the class meeting.
  • Enter in the Subject: “Course Evaluation - BIO54-103-02” (include your full course number, including section).
  • Copy and paste the Message text and modify as needed.

Students will complete online course evaluations this semester by clicking on this link: 20SP Student Course Evaluation.  The evaluation may be completed any time between Monday, April 20, and Wednesday, April 29.  The full course number provided in the title of this Announcement must be provided on the course evaluation form as a response to Question #1.  

  • When you are ready to send the email, click Send 

Will course evaluations “count”?
All faculty members will have the option of removing this semester’s evaluations from their files for promotion and tenure review as well as department chair review.  The evaluations will remain on file in the Dean’s office for reference if there is a course issue that emerges.  If a faculty member asks to remove the evaluations; they will not be placed in the materials for annual reviews or promotion reviews. 

What are the consequences of removing the evaluations from my tenure file?
If you choose to remove your evaluations from your tenure file, please discuss the option to the extend the tenure clock with the Dean. 

When do I have to inform students about their standing in my class according to the Credit/No Credit policy that was adopted?
All faculty need to provide students information concerning their grade in the course the week of April 20-24.  Students need to know their current grade and the amount of ungraded work remaining in the course. 

How can I inform students about their grade in my course?Please refer to the first few minutes of Julie Sievers and Melanie Hoag’s workshop Grades in Moodle and Grade Calculator 03-27-2020 for easy instructions on how to inform students of their current grate in the course. 

What remote options are available for capstone presentations?Please see Capstone Presentation Options for Remote Teaching created by Julie Sievers and Melanie Hoag.  They will hold an online discussion about these options on Monday, April 20, 2020 from 12:30-1:30. 

Are there opportunities for me to discuss my remote teaching experiences with faculty colleagues?
Yes, the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship is hosting a Remote Teaching Happy Hour every Friday from 4-5PM through May 8. Additional faculty resources and opportunities are detailed in the Revised Spring 2020 Schedule.

What do I do if I need technology support for my class?
Use the Faculty Support Request Form to get help with educational technology needs.  A member of the Ed Tech team will reach out to you promptly.    

Do we know when the ban on non-essential travel will end?
No, we do not know when the ban on non-essential travel will end.  For certain, non-essential travel is banned until the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2020.  No future travel arrangements (plane, hotels, conference registrations, etc.) should be made for this fiscal year or next fiscal year until the ban is lifted.

What do I do if I received an airline credit for travel that had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis?
Please fill out this travel cancellation form to help the Business Office track all of the cancellations and resulting credits/refunds due to COVID-19.  You can either use the airline credit for university travel after the travel ban has been lifted or you can reimburse the University for the plane ticket and use it for personal travel. 

April 9, 2020


Are faculty expected to hold virtual office hours?
Yes, faculty are expected to be available to students the same amount of time as they were when instruction was on campus, if not more, given the challenges with communication while conducting remote learning. 

Is the Academic Warning System still active?
Yes.  Please continue to use the system to submit your concerns about students.  The Center for Academic Success staff is monitoring that list on a daily basis.   

What do I do if a student isn’t signing up for an advising appointment?
Contact Jennifer Leach with that information.

What do I do if a student is not signing in to remote classes?Continue to share that information with Dave Seiler.  The Center for Academic Success staff is following up with those students one-by-one.  

What options do departments have for capstone presentations? (See above for updated answer.)
Julie Sievers and Melanie Hoag are working on recommendations for capstone presentations.  They are exploring at least three options which respond to different desires they have heard from departments.  Their recommendations will come out soon.

Why did the University freeze department budgets?
All areas of the university are being asked to spend funds only on essential items.  The University made this decision due to additional expenses incurred as a result of the crisis response, including, but not limited to, refunding student room and board.  Such expenses have put pressure on this fiscal year’s budget.  Looking forward to next year, we need to do everything we can to keep the university whole as we are anticipating a smaller first-year class and lower retention of current students due to the crisis.

Are any expenses exempt from the freeze?
Departments can request permission to use remaining funds to support essential activities related, for example, to supporting remote learning or equipment maintenance.  All expenses require approval from the Dean prior to the purchase. 

When does the freeze on department budgets begin?
The freeze is effective immediately from the time it was announced to department chairs on April 8, 2020.

If I need to make an essential purchase with department funds, what should I do?
Please reach out to your department chair first.  Your department chair will then need to reach out to the Dean with an explanation of why it is essential and receive approval prior to the purchase.

What happens if a faculty member did not receive permission for the department expense in advance?
The faculty member will be responsible for reimbursing the University. 

What about funding allocated through competitive awards or sabbatical awards?
Competitive and sabbatical awards for spring 2020 are not frozen; however, the more faculty are able to eliminate non-essential expenses the better.  As always, purchases over $500 require advance approval from the Dean.

What about funding through endowed chairs?
Endowed chair funds are not frozen in spring 2020. Again, the more faculty are able to eliminate non-essential expenses the better.  As always, purchases over $500 require advance approval from the Dean. 

Can I roll over my first year start-up funds?
The University is not able to roll over start-up funds for first-year faculty.  Faculty are encouraged to apply for Competitive funding to support research needs in future years. 

Are my first year start-up funds frozen?
No, start-up funds for new faculty are not part of the budget freeze. 

What can I do to aid the retention of current students?
Please reach out to other units of the University if students indicate they might not return in the fall.  Alerts might be sent to  Dave Seiler (Academic Success), Jennifer Leach (Advising and Retention), Julie Cowley (Academic Affairs), or James Gaeta (Financial Aid).  Please encourage students to have additional conversations with the University prior to finalizing their decision.

Will we have an April faculty meeting?
Yes, please hold April 27th from 12:30-1:50 for the last faculty meeting of the semester.  We will likely hold this meeting more like a town hall to allow faculty time to hear from President Knobel after the Board of Trustees Meeting and engage in a Q&A.

 April 3, 2020 Update


Do I need to abide by the grid during remote teaching?
Yes, if you are implementing synchronous learning, you need to follow grid times while also being mindful that some students could be in different time zones.  We cannot ask students to do synchronous learning at times that vary from the scheduled course time.  Students who want to participate in course activities will not be able to navigate conflicts if interactive course activities are scheduled outside the assigned course time.  

Will Southwestern hold summer school?
Summer school will be offered remotely for faculty interested in continuing in this format.

What will remote summer school look like?
Summer courses will be offered synchronously and include the same (remote) contact time of 2.5 hours per day, 4 days per week during the 5-week term. 

How will remote summer school courses be delivered?
Faculty are strongly encouraged to use platforms supported by Southwestern, including Google Hangouts Meet, RingCentral and Moodle.  We will not be able to provide technical support for other platforms.

Will the CR/NC option be available during summer school?
No, the CR/NC option was implemented due to the disruption of the spring semester.  Students enrolling in summer school will be choosing to participate in remote learning and the standard grading system will apply.

What are the pros and cons of teaching a remote summer school class?
Julie Sievers and Melanie Hoag will lead a Q&A the week of April 6-10 to address some of the challenges and opportunities of designing a remote summer school class.  Faculty who are currently  signed up for summer school are strongly encouraged to attend so that they are more fully aware of what teaching a full class online might entail. 

What if I no longer want to offer a summer school course due to the change to remote learning?
In order to remove the summer offering, provide the drop information to your department chair who will communicate this to the Registrar’s Office by Monday, April 13. 

Will Southwestern move forward with faculty-student and SCOPE research programs?
The traditional residential component of SCOPE is cancelled. Faculty will have the opportunity to reconceive faculty-student and SCOPE projects into remote faculty-mentored research.  More information will be disseminated the week of April 6-10. 

Will Sprog continue to be held?
Sprog 2020 will move to a virtual environment the week of June 22.  Additional information about the role of faculty advisors will be forthcoming.

Is catalog copy still due April 22?
Yes, we had already extended the deadline for catalog copy so we are not able to extend it further.  Departments and programs will probably need to meet to finalize catalog copy before the deadline. 

When will commencement for the class of 2020 be held?
Based on feedback from the graduating class, commencement will be held on Sunday, October 25, 2020, in conjunction with Southwestern’s Homecoming Weekend.

Do I have to attend department and program meetings?
If your department/program chair wishes to convene a meeting, you are expected to attend.  Departments and programs are encouraged to touch base on a more regular basis to share resources and provide support for remote teaching. 

Do I have to attend committee meetings?
In general, we have asked committees to slow their work so faculty can focus on remote teaching. If a committee chair wishes to convene a committee meeting to finish committee business from earlier in the semester or attend to an urgent/important issue that has emerged, you are expected to attend.  

Should students continue to receive academic accommodations during remote learning?
Yes. As a general rule, accommodations that have already been approved for the Spring 2020 semester will continue to be honored. Some accommodations, however, will likely become irrelevant in an online environment (such as preferential seating and permission to use a laptop in class). Others will depend on the format of each class (synchronous vs. asynchronous, for example). Students should be communicating their needs to their instructors.  Instructors may reach out to Jen Smull (smullj@southwestern.edu) with questions.

As an advisor, how do I support a student who is trying to decide about whether or not to change to CR/NC?
Jennifer Leach has created a document to help you advise students if taking a course CR/NC is an option they are considering. Additionally, she will be offering virtual workshops for advisors on how to have conversations about the CR/NC option with students Those dates are:

Monday, April 6th at 11 am Google Hangouts Meet Link

Tuesday, April 7th at 3:30 pm Google Hangouts Meet Link

Monday, April 13th at 10 am Google Hangouts Meet Link 

What kinds of things should students think about as they consider whether or not to change to CR/NC?

  • Students on academic probation are currently subject to requirements pertaining to Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), in addition to grade requirements (12 graded credits with a 2.20 semester GPA).
  • Professional schools (med, dent, PT, OT, etc.) and graduate programs accept graded courses, thus CR is not a preferable option for any prerequisite coursework.
  • Dean’s List - 12 graded credits required.
  • Latin Praise Honors - graduates should strongly consider how a change will impact the cumulative GPA and the possibility of earning these honors.
  • Student Life - need to maintain good academic standing for continued participation.
  • Athletics - need to maintain good academic standing and complete 24 credits in an academic year.
  • Education - if these classes are for teacher certification, discuss with education faculty.

How does a student change to the CR/NC grading option?
Students initiate this process by emailing the instructor with a copy to their advisor.  Here are the instructions that are being communicated to students:

  1. Communicate with your academic advisor to discuss the change.  Discuss the items to consider (above) before making a final decision.  This is required before taking any additional steps.
  2. From your SU email account, email your instructor to request the change from graded to CR/NC.  Copy your academic advisor on the email.  Once received, your instructor will initiate a petition to change the section from graded to CR/NC.  The instructor will not initiate the CR/NC petition unless the email was sent from your SU email and copies your academic advisor.
  3. The change to CR/NC will not be performed until after final grades have been received.  Do not expect any action regarding your grade until after the semester has completed.

How does the instructor submit the CR/NC grading option to the Registrar’s Office?
After receiving the email from the student that also includes a copy to the advisor, the instructor may submit the CR/NC grading option via Self Service in WebAdvisor by Wednesday, April 29, at 5:00 p.m. Step-by-step instructions with screenshots are available here.  Questions should be directed to Sean Smith (seansmith@southwestern.edu).

How does a student drop a course?
Similar to the process changing to the CR/NC grading options, students initiate the drop process by emailing the instructor with a copy to their advisor. 

How does the instructor submit the drop request to the Registrar’s Office?
After receiving the email from the student that also includes a copy to the advisor, the instructor may submit the drop via Self Service in WebAdvisor by Wednesday, April 29, at 5:00 p.m. Step-by-step instructions with screenshots are available here.  Questions should be directed to Sean Smith (seansmith@southwestern.edu). 

What if a student needs counseling services?
The Counseling Center is open and continues to work with the SU community. Students can contact the Counseling Center at 512-863-1252 and can arrange to “meet” with a counselor. Counseling sessions are being provided via both phone calls and video conferencing. Faculty and staff can consult with the counselors also by calling the center and making arrangements through Connie, or they can email any counselor directly and should hear back either that day or soon after, depending on whether the Counseling staff member is working that day (i.e. not out sick or on vacation). The Counseling Center continues to provide after hours crisis services, accessible by calling SUPD and asking to speak to a counselor 

What is our incomplete policy in light of COVID-19?
The grade of Incomplete shall be given only in the case of medical emergency or some other emergency situation beyond a student’s control.  The grade of incomplete may not be given for the sole reason of permitting additional time to complete assigned course work.  With this said, if a student requests an incomplete grade due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the University deems this to be a situation beyond the student’s control and eligible for an incomplete grade.  As always, it is necessary to communicate with the student regarding specific missing work and the June 1 deadline for coursework completion. 

What is happening with the Research and Creative Works Symposium?
As announced earlier, the RCWS is being moved to a virtual environment the week of April 20-24.  A RCWS site has been created that shares directions for students as well as FAQs about the transition. During the RCWS week, this site will also include links to posters, videos, and creative works submitted by our students.  Questions may be directed to Ben Belz (belzb@southwestern.edu) or Sarah Brackmann (brackmas@southwestern.edu). 

March 27, 2020


Will the drop date for courses change? (See above for updated answer.)
The drop date has been extended to Wednesday, April 29.  Sean Smith will be in touch soon with further details. 

Will we change our P/D/F grading policy? (See above for updated answer.)
COVID-19 has presented extraordinary challenges for faculty, staff, and students. In response to these many challenges, students will have the opportunity to elect to take their courses on a Credit/No Credit basis for the Spring 2020 semester by the last day of classes, Wednesday, April 29. Additional information, including about the drop and grade change process, will be made available in the coming days and weeks through the Academic Success Office, the Registrar’s Office and the Advising and Retention Office via emails and other communications.

Will the Research and Creative Works Symposium (RCWS) be held? (See above for updated answer.)
Due to distance learning, this year’s RCWS will look different from how we have done it in the past. However, we are guided by the principles developed by the first RCWS in 2000: To showcase student learning and celebrate the university’s commitment to student inquiry and signature work.  Instead of hosting RCWS on one day, we will be extending the virtual conference asynchronously for an entire week. During that time, SU community members can visit the site, view posters or videos, and share feedback with the authors. More information will be forthcoming. If you have any questions, please reach out to Sarah Brackmann (Brackmas@southwestern.edu) or Ben Belz (Belzb@southwestern.edu). 

Am I required to use a Moodle page for my course?
Yes, we are asking that all faculty use their courses’ Moodle page site to provide basic course information for students, including your syllabus, and basic course materials or links to another place where they can access them.  Even if you are using a different course delivery tool, Moodle needs to be the place where students can find the information they need for all courses, to minimize confusion. 

What if I need one-on-one support as I prepare for remote teaching?
Faculty who have attended a workshop, checked the “Keep Teaching” guide, and still need help are invited to complete the Faculty Support Request form. 

Will faculty and staff have access to the library?
Faculty and staff no longer have card access to the library due to the stay-at-home order.  Research and Instruction librarians can provide customized Research Guides or handouts in support of your assignments. The guides can be added to your Moodle class site. Submit a request here. While the library cannot secure physical items at this time, Get It! Interlibrary Loan service is available for borrowing electronic articles.  

When will academic advising begin and how will it be conducted? (See above for new information about resources.)
Academic advising will begin the week of April 6th.  Refer to Jennifer Leach’s March 24th email to advisors for information about remote advising (which includes this link on Remote Advising). 

Will Sprog continue to be held in June? (See above for updated answer.)
A decision has not yet been made regarding Sprog being held the week of June 22nd.  Jennifer Leach is working with her colleagues in Admission and Student Life on possibilities for virtual opportunities for Sprog and course registration. Additional information will be available in the coming weeks.

Do I need a letter from HR to come to campus during the Williamson County stay- at-home order?
If you expect to be on campus consistently to provide remote teaching, you need to send the Dean an email requesting permission to be added to the official list of employees allowed on campus during the stay-at-home order.  HR will follow up with a letter to this effect as explained in Craig Erwin’s email communication about the Williamson County stay-at-home order distributed to su-fac-off on March 24, 2020.   The letter will be sent to your SU email as a scanned document. 

Can I come to my office to retrieve critical teaching materials?
Yes, faculty still have building access.  You can retrieve materials during the stay-at-home order.  If for some reason you are stopped by law enforcement, you can show them your SU ID and explain that you are providing remote teaching at this time.  (See Williamson County “Stay Home Stay Safe order” for details.)   

What do I do if students indicate they have technology needs for remote learning?
Refer your students to the SU Emergency Fund.  The emergency needs during the COVID-19 crisis include, but are not limited to: (1) Food, toiletries, and funding for necessary medications; (2) Any educational-related expenses as SU moves to distance learning; (3) Money for travel for students who may need to go home; (4) Unexpected housing cost due to having to move out of the residence halls. 

How much support can students receive from the Emergency Fund?
Encourage your students to ask for the support they need from the Emergency Fund.  The university may need to put limits on the amount awarded so that all students can benefit from the fund; however, it will help the university to understand the overall need even if it is not able to address all the needs with the Emergency Fund.  The university can then explore other avenues of support.  

Can Southwestern supplies be donated to support COVID-19 efforts?
If you have excess university supplies you would like to have the university consider donating, you need to contact the Dean of the Faculty prior to making a donation.

When are faculty annual reports due?
The deadline for brief annual reports has been extended to Tuesday, April 14, 2020.   See the original email about annual reports dated February 19, 2020 for the appropriate form to be used for submission. 

Do I still need to collect assessment data for my courses?
Yes, as you are able, we ask that you continue to collect assessment data through course rubrics, exam questions, field examinations and surveys.  If your data present outlier results, you can make note of the extenuating circumstances of remote teaching in the comments section of the assessment report. 

Will we still be using the new assessment software, Weave, for our assessment reports this year?
The Dean is working with Natasha Williams on plans for assessment reports this year.  We are not certain whether we will provide remote training on Weave at this time.  We will communicate directly with department chairs once this decision has been made. 

Will the current hiring freeze impact tenure-track line hires approved for hiring in 2020-2021 for positions to begin in 2021-22?
Yes, the hiring freeze could potentially impact the hiring process for tenure-track lines in 2020-2021 for positions to begin in 2021-22.  We will discuss budget constraints with the Board of Trustees at its April meeting.  Much depends on the size of our entering class as well as the retention of current students. 

What impact will the hiring freeze have on current searches?
Most of the searches for tenure-track lines were complete at the time the hiring freeze was announced.  We had made offers and/or hired tenure-track and 3-year visiting positions in Psychology, English, Communication Studies, Math, Applied Physics, Kinesiology and Political Science (3-year visitor) at the time the hiring freeze was decided.  We have paused the searches that were ongoing but had not yet reached the offer stage.  These searches include a staff with faculty rank position in Accounting and 3-year visitors in History and Economics. 

What impact will the hiring freeze have on adjunct hires for the fall?
If the paperwork has been processed, we will move forward with those classes.  Each appointment letter reserves the right to cancel classes due to enrollment constraints.  We will reassess the need for certain classes at each stage in the registration process.

What can I do as a faculty member to assist the University as it navigates the uncertain enrollment and retention environment?
As a faculty member, you can contribute by providing accurate information to students about the current situation and reassuring students that faculty, staff, and the administration are working hard to adjust to the changing landscape and that we are hoping to return to the normal face-to-face learning experience as soon as possible.  If you get questions about financial aid, please refer the student to James Gaeta in the Financial Aid Office. If you are asked to participate in new enrollment initiatives directed at prospective students, try to find the time.  If you haven’t already joined the student letter writing campaign, you are invited to do so by contacting Christine Bowman (bowmanc@southwestern.edu). If students are not engaging with your classes, reach out to Dave Seiler and let him know as soon as possible.   

When will faculty have the opportunity to sign up for committee service for 2020-21?
The Committee Preference Inventory Form for appointed committees will be distributed to tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty, and Academic Affairs staff with rank next week. Update: the form was distributed on April 3.

March 20, 2020 Update


Am I required to use my SU email to communicate with my students?
Yes - all faculty should only use their SU email to communicate with students due to FERPA requirements.

Will the drop date for courses change?  (See above for updated answer.)
Sean Smith will be announcing a revised drop/withdrawal calendar shortly.

Will senior grades need to be submitted early?
No, senior grades will be due at the same time that grades for all other students are due. 

Is the Academic Warning System still available?
Yes and faculty are encouraged to continue to use the system as needed, keeping in mind the unusual circumstances in which we are operating.

Will we change our P/D/F grading policy? (See above for updated answer.)
We have not made this decision yet.  We have polled other ACS schools and are considering various options, including maintaining the current policy.  We will make this decision by March 30th when remote teaching begins.

Will student course evaluations be administered this semester, and if so, how will they count in faculty evaluations?
We are exploring the process of administering course evaluations online through Qualtrics. If we are able to do this, all faculty will be able to review completed course evaluations to determine whether or not they want to retain them as part of their teaching record.

Will the Research and Creative Works Symposium (RCWS) be held? (See above for updated answer.)
No, the RCWS has been cancelled.  Integrative Learning staff are exploring possibilities for showcasing students’ work virtually.  More information will be shared soon.  Given the cancellation of RCWS, April 14th will revert to a regular class day. 

Will tutoring services continue to be available?
In many cases, yes, although this is up to the department.  Tutors may work remotely by coordinating with department faculty.  Jennifer Leach will be reaching out soon to all faculty who coordinate department tutoring services. The writing consultants in the Debby Ellis Writing Center will also be available for consultations; look for information from Jennifer Marciniak in the near future.

What if I need to consult with someone in the Registrar’s Office, the Office of Advising & Retention, the Center for Integrative Learning, or the Center for Academic Success?
Staff in each of these offices are available throughout the day by email.  Please reach out to them as needed. 

What if I need a document scanned?
You may send your scanning requests to your building administrative assistant.   

Are student workers still working on campus?
With rare exceptions, student workers are not working on campus.  The building administrative assistants stand ready to support you.

What if I need one-on-one support as I prepare for remote teaching? (See above for updated answer.)
A process for requesting one-on-one support will be announced very soon by Julie Sievers. 

Will the University be able to cover some expenses to support faculty as they prepare for remote teaching?
Department budget lines for teaching support and student engagement may be tapped for modest expenses related to remote learning such as low-cost apps.  All faculty should work through their respective department chair.  We are encouraging faculty to use G Suite, Google Hangouts Meet and Moodle as the main course delivery mechanisms as these tools are supported by IT. 

Will students be allowed on campus to conduct research related to a class?
No, students will not be allowed on campus to conduct research related to a class.  Faculty will need to re-imagine some assignments in light of this constraint. 

Will students be allowed on campus to work in the library? 
Students no longer have physical access to the library. Many of the library’s resources can be accessed online. Research librarians are available to help students via Research Appointment Requests. If you need other assistance from the library to support a course, please contact Carol Fonken. 

Will faculty and staff have access to the library? (see above for updated answer.)
Yes, faculty and staff still have card access to the library. Library hours are 8 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Monday - Friday.

When will academic advising begin and how will it be conducted? (See above for updated answer.)
Academic advising begins on April 6th.  Jennifer Leach will send out additional information next week on how to advise remotely.

Will summer school be held? (See April 3 FAQ section for updated answer.)
This decision has not been made yet. Ideally, we hope to announce a decision prior to the beginning of advising on April 6. 

Will we have SCOPE? (See April 3 FAQ section for updated answer.)
This decision has not been made yet.  We plan to make decisions about both summer school and SCOPE at the same time around April 6.  

Can student research assistants continue their work?
If you are able to continue to provide work for your research assistants remotely, you can continue to log their hours. 

Will we extend the tenure clock for pre-tenure faculty?
Given the disruption to teaching and research this semester, pre-tenure faculty will have the option to extend the tenure clock by one year.  Pre-tenure faculty will have until August 17, 2020 to request a one year extension to the review clock.  Pre-tenure faculty who choose to void teaching evaluations for spring 2020 should discuss whether to extend the tenure clock with the Dean. 

What do I do about conference travel?
The University has suspended all non-essential travel, including travel related to teaching, research and creative works.  If you have made travel arrangements, the University will cover cancellation fees when reimbursements are not an option.  If you receive a credit for plane tickets purchased with your corporate card, the University expects the credit to be used on your next university-related trip. 

Can conference travel funds roll over to the next budget year?No, we are not able to roll over funds for conference travel.  Rolling over funds from the operating budget causes many accounting difficulties and produces additional work for our business office colleagues.  It is not part of our normal budget structure.  

Will governance committees meet for the rest of the spring 2020 semester?
In general, committees will not meet for the rest of the semester unless there is urgent business.  Curriculum Committee, Faculty Steering, and Strategic Planning have decided to suspend meetings.  The Awards and Honors Committee and Faculty Status and Review will meet remotely through Google Hangouts Meet.  If you are a committee chair, please communicate with your members if future meetings are necessary.  We ask that committees try not to meet so that faculty can focus on transitioning their courses to remote learning.