I hope you all enjoyed a restful long weekend. I have been honored to serve as your Interim Provost for the past year and I am looking forward to continuing into the new academic year. There are challenges on the road ahead but as Highlanders, we know that challenges can also present opportunity. Working together we will get through COVID-19 and address issues of institutional racism that permeate our country, as well as our campus.
Here are a few updates I would like to share with you:
It will likely be October before we have clarity on our 2020-21 campus budget. Currently, we are expecting a reduction of around 7-8% in state funding to our core budget, but fall quarter enrollment, state tax receipts, and additional federal support remain uncertain and could increase or narrow our budget shortfall. Deans and other unit heads are engaging their faculty and staff in budget reduction exercises. The Budget Advisory Committee has been holding a series of outreach meetings and town halls to share information and collect input on our budget challenges. Our focus is on protecting the unique features of UCR that make us a world-class university, including research, graduate training, undergraduate student success, and promoting upward social mobility for our students. We will continue to consult across campus throughout the summer and into the fall. More information is available here: rpb.ucr.edu/budget-reduction. On this website, you will also find a Financial Challenges Survey. Please provide us with your thoughts and priorities related to budget reduction issues.
Summer enrollments are up 41% (more than 2,600 additional students) compared to the same time last year. The average unit load is also up by 0.4 meaning more students are taking more classes at UCR this summer. Thank you to all of the instructors offering summer courses; these courses are vital to allowing our students to make even faster progress toward graduation.
As the Chancellor and I described in our June 17th announcement, we hope to be in phase 3 for fall quarter instruction. Phase 3 instruction means that all classes will continue to be available in remote formats, and any class that is approved to be offered in-person will also offer a way to accommodate students who cannot attend on-campus with a remote option. While faculty, department chairs, and deans are working to identify the courses we hope to offer in-person, we will continue to monitor the public health situation carefully and acknowledge that if conditions worsen we may be fully remote again in the fall.
Faculty requests for in-person instruction must be submitted through our Course Proposal Form. Proposals must be approved by the chair/director and dean, and forwarded to the Registrar before August 1 for priority consideration. Proposals received on August 1 or later will be considered on a rolling basis. Because the campus will be able to support only a limited number of classrooms for in-person instruction, some proposals may not be approved due to space limitations. We anticipate that proposals received by August 1 will have a decision and, if approved, a room assignment by mid-August. Students will be notified regarding which courses are planned to be offered in person in August.
Updates from XCITE:
In preparation for Fall 2020, XCITE (formerly the Center for Teaching and Learning) encourages the faculty to frequently visit the Keep Teaching website to find out about the latest innovations and resources in support of teaching and learning. Some of the most recent updates include:
- XCITE is creating new online trainings for fall remote teaching for both faculty and TAs, including The Art and Craft of Remote Teaching and Cultural Sensitivity in the CoVid and Post-CoVid University (Both available later this month). Contact Dr. Vanessa Ament (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
- In addition to continuing support for Zoom, UCR recently added YuJa, an end-to-end video solution, that greatly expands our ability to deliver video instruction. This link provides more details: Yuja - UCR’s New Video Platform.
- Faculty will have expanded options for online proctoring solutions for Fall 2020 and beyond. Please check out the Keep Teaching website in August 2020 for details.
Construction on active projects has continued amidst the campus closure. We have heard some concerns about these projects continuing while UCR faces a likely budget cut. I would like to clarify that these active construction projects are largely funded from state funds designated for these projects or from public-private partnerships (P3s), which means that discontinuing their progress would not help us address our budget challenges. Smaller projects that are supported by core funds have been evaluated and most have been suspended.
- The Student Success Center, which is primarily a state-funded project, is on track to be completed by fall 2021.
- The testing lab in the incubator space of MRB has received CLIA certification and equipment is moving into the space. This will help us meet our testing obligations for COVID-19.
- Other construction updates can be found here: pdc.ucr.edu/projects/active
Some researchers have returned to campus to restart work in their labs that has been mostly dormant since the start of spring quarter. COVID-19 prevention training and increased cleaning from EH&S are helping to ensure that those who need to be working on campus are working safely. More information on the Research Ramp-up plan is available at https://campusreturn.ucr.edu/plans-and-protocols.
At our June Steering Committee meeting, we dedicated time to issues of racial justice, equity, and inclusion, and how these campus priorities should be addressed in the strategic plan. We discussed the importance of making our values visible in all parts of the plan, and how we can translate these values into actions by providing detailed strategies. At the June meeting we also received a second round of feedback on our strategic plan framework. This framework will serve as the outline for our first full draft of the UCR Strategic Plan, which we will begin drafting this summer. This draft will be just a first attempt to get the ideas we have heard from across the campus in a form that we can share widely. We have many rounds of editing ahead of us and will be in touch in fall quarter to provide opportunities for feedback and extensive consultation. Updates and strategic planning materials can be found at: strategicplan.ucr.edu/resources. Our next Steering Committee meeting will be in August.
Thomas M Smith, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
951.827.1129 | email@example.com