Task Force for the Future of Baruch
Thursday, August 6, 2020
ZOOM Video Conference
Meeting Convened: 1:00 PM
1. Update from Subcommittees:
- Subcommittee #5 – Staff
The subcommittee will be sending an email to staff next week alerting them of two upcoming surveys. One survey will address technology, both the staff experience and specific needs; this survey will not be anonymous so areas that are struggling can be identified. The second will be anonymous and will delve deeper into the more sensitive issues of the staff experience, such as life/work balance and professional development. The survey will also include a FAQ that will cover Building and Grounds questions: campus access protocol, how are facilities being disinfected, signage, social distancing plans upon reopening, and items specific to staff still in the frontlines. The survey drafts will be presented to Art King and Rachél Fester for feedback and hopefully will be distributed within the next two weeks.The overall sentiment from staff members who participated in the Town Hall, was that they would like to see more representation on the staff subcommittee from staff in the schools, deans’ offices, academic affairs, and student enrollment. Provost McCarthy stressed that the subcommittee’s introductory email really emphasize that the Task Force wants to hear from everyone college-wide, and also remind staff that the comment section on the Task Force site is still open and being monitored.
Subcommittee #4 – Student Well-being and Success
The subcommittee met with the consultants, Mary Gorman, and Art King earlier in the day and will meet with both the Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate Student Assembly next week. The subcommittee will help the students transition towards prioritizing the taskforce’s suggestions, that are within the realm of possibility. The subcommittee will emphasize in these meetings their desire to work with students and that the students’ voices are heard. The subcommittee is working to identify student populations the college is not hearing from, namely the 10% of students who are without reliable internet access, and on finding ways to connect. Jeremy Block will be following up with Art King to get clarification on the status of Student Health Services. As of now, the mental health portion is fully online and staff added, as well as programs specifically on institutional racism for African American students. Services for physical health are still operating on campus.
Subcommittee #3 – Technological Support
The committee has been focused on implementing recommendations and with the help of Arthur Downing, there has been action taken on many of the suggestions. The biggest concerns that will be persistent throughout the fall is the need for more equipment and more people. Presently, there is not enough staff in BCTC and CTL to support the enterprise; we need to optimized the staff we do have and develop a long term plan to address the shortage. The committee is looking at different ways to procure and provide technology. A new allotment of ProBooks and iPads will be distributed in the fall to students. Concerning “hotspots”, the committee is exploring various options. One option looks at Brooklyn College’s approach; they were able to procure hotspot devices for free through T-Mobil, and will pay a monthly service fee. They are also funding some student hotspots through student technology fees. For faculty and staff, the committee is looking at issues of equity and access, while keeping in mind, many of the connectivity issues faculty and staff experience are caused by location and circumstances out of BCTC’s control. A question of focus for the subcommittee is: what does the ideal technology platform look like for faculty, students, and staff and how do we find the resources to get to the end goal—building an infrastructure that can be reliably produced, supported, maintained and sustained. Another area the committee is working to address, is the need for one-on-one consulting for faculty with remedial technological needs.
Subcommittee #2 – Faculty Support
Allison Lehr Samuels of the CTL joined the subcommittee’s meeting this week to discuss the Center’s operations, the types of faculty support available through the center, and what will be needed going forward. The addition of full-time staff remains the Center’s greatest need. The committee is working on identifying the range of support faculty needs, from basic technology questions to the more complex. For support beyond the remedial, the subcommittee plans to recommend departmental faculty mentors. The proposed faculty mentors will serve as point-persons for each department, and host departmental meetings where discipline centric, pedagogical questions can be discussed. Academic Integrity, specifically regarding exams, remains an issue. Possible solutions posed include classifying a course as hybrid so exams can be conducted in-person in a large venue (i.e. gym) and the use of CUNY provided online proctoring software. Online proctoring will most certainly require student cameras to be turned on; CUNY will need to provide waivers for these course if that is the case. The committee drafted a faculty resource grid they plan to circulate among the CTL and technology areas for feedback. Faculty has also expressed a need for hotspot devices. The last item discussed, was the need for emotional support for faculty members. Support is currently being provided by CCA, but faculty members trained in counseling could possibly be tapped as an in-house resource.
Subcommittee #1 – Course Delivery
Based on surveys conducted of the Zicklin faculty on spring 2021 and regular contact with various course directors, the overall impression is that faculty is capable and willing to having another fully online semester, but there is a lack of enthusiasm for an entirely online model. There is a sense that students want to return to some type of face-to-face learning as soon as possible.
- There will be no meeting next week. The next meeting will be August 20, 2020 at 1:00 PM
- Questions regarding student cameras being turned off during class/exams and pseudonyms will be referred to Olga Dias.
- A number of updates included examples of measures already taken by the subcommittees and cabinet champions based on preliminary recommendations; Provost McCarthy suggested this angle/strategy is one all the subcommittees may want to pursue.
- Feedback from consultants is anticipated within the next two weeks. Individual feedback will not be given to the subcommittees, however the consultants are still available and can be contacted directly with questions.
Meeting Ended: 2:15 PM