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Ways in Which You Will Be Stronger Post-Pandemic as Well as Ways in Which You May Be Weakened

Online teaching, support for our faculty, CAL tech officeOur work to support faculty with digital teaching and learning has used a data informed approach to focus our efforts and energy in areas of need, and in delivery modes that are preferred by our students and faculty. During the Fall semester we conducted a teaching needs assessment which yielded insight into faculty preferences, and our team has adapted practice to honor the feedback. We have seen increased engagement with our resources (website traffic and consultations). This approach has allowed us to hone our ability to support faculty’s pedagogical philosophies and goals via specific tools and platforms, creating more customized and learning-centered online practices. The College aims to support continued online offerings that demonstrate these investments and expand student learning opportunities in our most popular programs.

Flexible curriculum strategy for majors/enrollment – The College has adopted a data-informed approach to formulate our student-centered strategy for online learning. With nearly 200 of our faculty pursuing professional development opportunities to burnish their online pedagogies, we are better positioned than we have ever been to maximize flexibility in our course and programmatic offerings. Through data gathered from our advising staff and the registrar’s system, we are identifying curricular pinch points that can be eased through the asynchronous delivery of specific courses. At the same time, we are tracing our most popular programs—those that attract both CAL students and those from across the university—to determine how we might leverage asynchronous delivery to increase student enrollments. This work is being advanced through an intentional approach that emphasizes student success and access as primary animating values.

Flexibility for staff work; freeing up space – Discussions have started about post pandemic remote work options with various staff groups . We are exploring different options and models with our staff. Numerous studies indicate remote work is more efficient and engaging for employees, but there is no one standard for all staff positions. A key differentiator is the amount of direct interaction a person has with coworkers and constituents. Our expectation is we will have a mix of employees who work remotely 1-2 days each week and others who will be 100% off campus. We have already begun to employ 100% remote workers in technical fields. As we restructure into functional teams, we envision the space needs will change from individual offices located in departments to common spaces where employees will share desk space. Confidential spaces will be needed for sensitive conversations, otherwise the need for many private spaces will decrease overall.

Proactive foundation and corporate engagement – During the pandemic, the College turned intentionally to enhance our strategic engagement with foundations and corporations. As many foundations shifted the focus of their activities toward questions of racial equity and social justice, areas in which the College has developed research and creative activity strengths, we were able to respond more proactively to calls for proposals in these areas. Early successes in this approach have been mentioned in the $3M Mellon Just Futures grant. We have also engaged corporations more proactively, as our work with the iOS Design lab shows. We anticipate that our developing relationships with Herman Miller, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Company, the Teagle Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation, to name a few, will continue to elevate our fundraising goals moving forward.

MSU Arts Strategy – While we have emphasized the importance of making the arts integral to the intellectual and cultural life of the university through the MSU Arts Strategy, the current budget constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will make this work at once more important and more difficult. The arts have taken a leadership role on campus in addressing the pressing questions of meaning, racial justice, and human well- being during the pandemic. The danger as we move into a post-pandemic world is that the university will turn away from the arts as a central priority.