College Update: New Opportunities and Policy Updates for Spring 2021

This message was sent on January 21, 2021.

Dear Colleagues,

We know this past year has been unprecedented in respect to faculty challenges, stresses, and demands. We recognize how difficult it has been for our faculty to reimagine teaching in multiple modalities and handle the extreme workload it has entailed, all on top of escalating fears about physical health and safety for yourself, your family, your colleagues, and your students; enormous childcare and school availability issues, and the psychological and emotional worries of navigating a global pandemic and national political upheaval. While we cannot erase the hardships and pain of the last ten months, we generate some improved ways to support our faculty within our current financial restrictions and based on your feedback. Therefore, we write today to share with you new opportunities and revised policies that we hope will better support faculty, especially our younger and more vulnerable faculty, in these extraordinary times.

Automatic One-Year Extension of Tenure Clock for Junior Faculty hired in 2020

Last April 3, 2020, the College and Provost granted an automatic one-year extension with an opt-out provision for junior tenure-track faculty. That one-year extension will now include all junior tenure-track faculty hired with a start date of January 1, 2020 or July 1, 2020. These faculty will receive a letter conveying this extension by June 30, 2021, and they will have until December 31st of their fifth year to opt-out of this extension (thereby reverting to their original timetable).

One-Year No Cost Extension for Start-up Funds for Junior Faculty hired in 2020           

Likewise, because of COVID, all Assistant Professors hired before July 1, 2020 were granted a one-year, no-cost extension on the use of their startup funds. We are now providing this extension to all new faculty hired July 1, 2020. (Please note that if there are any substantial changes in planned budget expenditures, you will need to seek approval from your Chair and ODOC. We also want to make you aware of the College Startup Funds Policy. We hope that this extension will reduce some of the anxiety around the expenditure of start-up funds as academia struggles with purchasing and supply chain delays.)

Support to Junior Tenure Track Faculty and first-year Associate Professors to Attend Virtual Conferences – Spring 2021

Because your plans for travel to conferences have been disrupted through circumstances that none of us can control, and because we recognize the critical role that conference attendance has on building professional networks for junior tenure-track faculty, all Assistant Professors as well as newly promoted Associate Professors in their first year, will be able to use their departmental travel funds, up to $500 maximum, to attend virtual conferences in the Spring 2021 semester whether or not they are presenting their scholarship. (Previously, attendance at a conference, in-person or virtually, without presenting or being on the program was considered a discretionary expense and not allowable.)

Workshop on Tenure and Promotion for Tenure-Track Faculty

This semester, ODOC is offering a virtual workshop for all Assistant Professors, “Navigating the Tenure-Track in COVID Times”, led by higher ed coach Melissa Walker, Ph.D., and designed to help you chart a course to tenure and promotion. The dates are Friday, January 29; Friday, February 26; and Friday, March 26, 1:30-4:30pm. Department chairs and program directors with junior faculty have been contacted and eligible faculty have received an email invitation. If you have not already RSVPed and want to participate, please contact Leigh Anne Robinson, wrayla@nullwfu.edu, as soon as possible as space is limited.

Workshop on Promotion for Teaching Professionals

A workshop for Assistant and Associate Teaching Professionals, “Advice for Teaching Professionals Seeking Promotion”, will be held virtually on Wednesday, March 24, 4:00-5:30. Allison McWilliams, Assistant Vice President – Mentoring and Alumni Personal & Professional Development, from the Mentoring Resource Center, and Tony Marsh, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty, will moderate the session which will include ample time for your questions. A panel of recently promoted teaching professionals and faculty who have recently served on the Teaching Professionals Promotion Committee will attend to provide advice on compiling your dossier and an overview of the promotion process.

New Teaching Award for Teaching Professionals

ODOC is pleased to announce the formation, through an anonymous gift, of an annual award to honor the teaching excellence of teaching professionals in Wake Forest College. All Teaching Professionals in the College at all ranks are eligible to be nominated for this award by department chairs and program directors. Details are available on the Awards page of the College website and nominations will be due by March 21, 2021.

Resumption of New Faculty in the Forest

Based on feedback we have received from new faculty, we will resume the New Faculty in the Forest meetings this semester. We will hold three virtual sessions, one in February, March, and April from 12-1pm. Information on the dates and the speakers will be forthcoming so please keep an eye on the Dean’s Office Digest. Faculty in their second and third year at Wake Forest are also very welcome to attend.

New Pilot Program – Work-Study Tutoring for Children of Faculty and Staff

ODOC and the Student Financial Aid Office have partnered to develop a virtual tutoring program for faculty and staff with K-12 children. Wake Forest undergraduate students who are eligible for Federal work-study will sign up as tutors and interested faculty and staff will complete an enrollment process for their children. It will be free for faculty and staff. Student tutors could work for up to 8 hours per week during the semester. We would attempt to match tutors and children based on the expertise of the tutors and the needs of the children. Please be aware that this is a pilot program whose success will be determined by the buy-in from both students and faculty and staff. Details of this initiative will be forthcoming shortly.

We want all faculty to know that the normal mechanisms for faculty development fundingfaculty scholarly leavesmedical and parental leaves, and faculty fellowship awards all remain in place.  The February 12 deadline for Spring faculty development proposals is fast approaching. We know it is no surprise to you that, unfortunately, the moratorium on travel using university funds must remain in effect.

Finally,  ODOC has been working closely with a working group of chairs and program directors across the five divisions to assess further changes that can be made to policies and procedures in response to the impact that the pandemic has had on faculty professional and personal lives.  We look forward to sharing the results of that work shortly.

Sincerely,

Michele Gillespie and Anthony Marsh