Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Penn State Faculty Want Final Decision on Where, How to Conduct Classes in the Fall:
Surveys show that tuition-paying college students want face-to-face instruction this fall, pandemic or not. Campuses in Pennsylvania are intent on obliging to the extent they can.
But if faculty fear health risks, should they have the final say on whether to teach remotely?
That question has surfaced at Penn State University, which announced its reopening plans Sunday even as a letter signed by more than 1,100 faculty, graduate assistants and others called on the state's flagship university to offer greater safety assurances and more transparency about the evidence on which the decision was based. ...
Penn State officials, in rolling out their plan, said the university will maintain a workplace that meets health standards. Like other schools, the instruction will be a mix of face-to-face and remotely delivered instruction, depending on circumstances.
Open Letter to the Penn State Administration Regarding Plans for the Fall and the Response to COVID-19:
[I]n the event that students return to campus for the fall semester, we ask the university to commit to the following, and to formalize all policies in writing:
The university will affirm the autonomy of instructors in deciding whether to teach classes, attend meetings, and hold office hours remotely, in-person, or in some hybrid mode. Staff should also have the option of working remotely. Instructors will be able to alter the mode of course delivery at any time if they deem it necessary for their own safety or the safety of their students; no one will be obligated to disclose personal health information as a justification for such decisions, and they will not face negative repercussions from the university or supervisors. ...
To fulfill the educational mission of our university, all faculty members, staff, graduate employees, and other essential employees must have secure employment, equity, and a guarantee of the resources necessary to perform their work. Given Penn State’s significant liquid assets, we ask the university to commit to the following:
- The university will extend fixed-term faculty contracts through the 2020-2021 year at a salary equal to or exceeding the faculty member’s 2019-2020 contract, and it will maintain full employment, pay, raises, and benefits for all faculty and staff (including administrative, custodial, and maintenance staff). If classes fail to meet the minimum enrollment, the university will either allow these smaller classes to run, or it will assign faculty other important tasks such as curriculum design and program-building. ...
- The university will continue to undertake tenure-track hiring initiatives and other efforts to ensure the strength and diversity of its workforce while simultaneously facilitating the advancement of all current faculty, particularly those from underrepresented groups. It will continue to offer assistant professors choice in whether to request a delay in their tenure review due to the pandemic and its fallout, for as long as such accommodations are needed. It will also recognize that delays in the promotion of both assistant and associate professors may undermine efforts to redress disparities of gender and race and will consider ways to address this issue.
- The university will commit to drawing on its many financial resources to ensure the maintenance of programs and positions across all of our campuses.