Task Force Delivers Phase One Report: Vast Majority of Classes Online for Fall 2020
Dear Baruch Community,
I charged the Task Force for the Future in May, before taking office as president, to ensure that Baruch would lose no time in assessing the way we deliver education and provide student services in the post-Covid environment. The task force was charged to envision a path forward for our short-term as well as long-term future. I am pleased to report that, after broad campus-wide consultation, the task force made its recommendation to offer the vast majority of classes and services online for Fall 2020—well aligned with the guidance approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees at its special meeting last week.
Yesterday, CUNY’s Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost José Luis Cruz provided additional detailed frameworks that are consistent with the report of Baruch’s task force. I am especially pleased to report that Baruch’s academic leadership, including the Office of the Provost, the deans, associate deans, and department chairs are already at work with faculty making specific decisions about which small number of courses will be offered in hybrid format, and which online courses (the vast majority of our offerings) will be delivered synchronously or asynchronously.
While we faced a major challenge last week when a damaging rule change regarding F-1 visas for international students was announced, we were greatly relieved when the rule change was rescinded yesterday. We are pleased that Baruch can proceed as planned along the lines proposed by the task force, but we will continue to monitor the situation and protect our international students’ education as needed.
Throughout Fall 2020, student services will also remain mostly online, with academic advisors, career coaches, and counselors continuing to offer phone and virtual sessions. Doing so will help us keep staff presence on campus to a minimum, as is the goal across the University system. All college plans are subject to CUNY’s review and approval; we will share ours when it is final.
My Appreciation to the Task Force for the Future
I want to thank the 23 hardworking members of the task force for a very thoughtful and thorough analysis of Baruch’s unique situation, and for identifying guidance for the upcoming academic year. The task force comprises faculty and staff from all three schools as well as administrative units across the College. Under the leadership of James McCarthy, interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, the task force first focused on the short-term future, addressing four specific areas laid out in my charge:
1. Instructional and research programs
2. Administrative, technological, and operational functions
3. Admissions, enrollment, and student services
4. Facilities, safety, and College services
With the delivery of this phase one report, the task force has already begun work on a subsequent effort that will present an expansive and ambitious “Conceptual Framework for The Future” (i.e., Academic Year 2021-2022 and beyond). This framework will be presented to me in draft form by August 31, and—following extensive community feedback—in final form by September 30.
An Open and Inclusive Process
The task force sought feedback from the Baruch community throughout the planning and drafting process. Members worked with the deans, faculty, and staff of each of our three schools, including getting specific and detailed input from department chairs on course development challenges. It also incorporated ideas from everyone who left feedback on the task force website. As described in the report, subcommittee members also conducted independent research into best practices that are emerging throughout the higher education landscape.
The next step is for the Baruch community to discuss and provide further feedback on the report and its key recommendations. To that end, I am planning a virtual Town Hall meeting for July or early August. We are working out the logistics and will announce more details soon. At that time, Provost McCarthy and I will discuss the report, invite your feedback, and respond to your questions. If you want to provide more immediate comments, the feedback form on the task force website remains open to one and all—students, faculty, and staff. You may also write to me at President@baruch.cuny.edu.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts as we work to put Baruch on a path to lead and envision a transformation that allows us to deliver our mission with more fluidity and enhanced quality, while sustaining the health and safety of our community.
S. David Wu
President, Baruch College