June 22 update from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear LAS faculty and staff,

Let me begin by offering kudos to three LAS faculty members who served as panelists in an important campus conversation last week. Brian Behnken, Associate Professor of History; Sebastian Braun, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of American Indian Studies; and Brad Dell, Associate Professor and Director of Theatre, were three of five panelists in a session titled, “What should I do? White action and accountability to combat anti-blackness and systems-based racism,” presented by the Office of the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion on June 17. Thank you to Brian, Sebastian and Brad for your expertise and act of service!

The session provided multiple perspectives on how members of the university can help combat racism. Registration filled up quickly, but hopefully additional sessions will be scheduled for those who weren’t able to attend. In the meantime, there are several educational resources on the Office of the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion’s website.

Fall Planning
I hope you were all able to read Provost Wickert’s important communication from last week with several details about the upcoming fall semester. If not, please take a few minutes to read the communication online. This document and other important communication can be found on the university’s regularly updated fall planning page.

The Provost’s communication covered the following key areas:

  • A modified fall semester calendar (note especially an earlier start date and in-session classes on Labor Day)
  • Modified class start times
  • Returning to the classroom
  • Instruction support
  • Classroom and laboratory safety
  • Academic appointments and graduate assistantships
  • Back-up instructors and absences due to illness

Six teams within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have been working diligently on plans – and contingency plans – for returning in the fall. We have one group working on science labs, one on computer labs, and other groups looking at lecture courses according to size. One workgroup in particular is looking at special issues occurring in different programs, which has helped us create some consistency across departments and varying instructional settings. This has saved time and helped departments avoid duplicative work from figuring out every little detail on their own.

You play an important part in the planning as well. Department chairs and others who manage people and space face complicated puzzles as they rework class schedules and departmental operations in response to requests for alternate work arrangements. Communication, flexibility and adaptability are key. Please inform your department chair and your direct supervisor as soon as possible of any concerns or needs, and please be as flexible and adaptable as possible, as we work on teaching schedules, room assignments and departmental responsibilities.

Another important communication from the Provost’s office indicated that all courses taught at Iowa State University are to be developed within Canvas – for both in-person and online courses. If you are currently using a different learning management system for a class, the class will need to be converted to Canvas before classes begin in August.

New courses on Canvas should utilize the ISU course template, which will help ensure best practices for online teaching and a consistent experience for students. CELT and ELO can assist instructors with this transition. In fact, a short course is available this summer: ttps://www.celt.iastate.edu/events-registration/canvas-training-and-beyond/summer-course-design/.

Resources for students and their families
As the fall semester draws near, you may get questions from students or parents. Please offer these sources of information and updates:

The pace may still feel like spring, but we have officially entered summer. I hope the beautiful, green summer landscape refreshes you! In this photo, Micah starts the morning right – under a ray of sunshine as we begin another work week.

Micah under a ray of sunshine

With my best wishes,