Dear College of Arts & Letters Staff and Faculty,
As we head into the halfway point of the semester, I write to provide an update regarding the COVID Relief Fund and disbursement efforts to our staff and faculty in the College. First, however, I want to remind you that next Tuesday and Wednesday, March 2 and 3, are Break Days for the University.
My message supplements the email sent by Provost Woodruff earlier today to all faculty regarding planning for these days. These Break Days are meant to give students, and all of us, time and space to rest during this very stressful period. Be mindful not to give assignments on those days or to schedule major projects or exams due in the days that immediately follow. Please also take time for yourselves to do something restorative.
COVID Relief Fund Results to Date
As you know, a group of volunteer staff and faculty worked to coordinate, craft, and analyze data from a COVID needs-assessment survey submitted by staff and faculty. This information was exceptionally helpful in identifying needs during the pandemic. This group created a rubric, reviewed, and ranked requests, and then prepared a report submitted to the department chairs, Chief of Staff Ken Desloover, and me. A total of 27 requests were submitted that equated to a dollar amount of $16,308. Requests included student hourly support, technology needs, office supplies requests, and support to purchase ergonomic furniture. I would like to thank all those individuals who submitted requests and the staff and faculty volunteers who imaginatively created a process and conscientiously participated in it so that we could put our commitment to care into practice.
This process has taken longer than we would have liked because we are creating new processes that require our due diligence in ensuring we are following all University policies even as we push these policies to be more responsive to staff and faculty needs. Members of the College Finance Team are currently in the process of allocating these funds, and each person who submitted has been or will soon be contacted for next steps in the process.
Cultivating Habits of Responsive Communication
One of the many things we learned from the COVID Relief Fund process is that across the College we need more effective ways to hear and respond to emerging staff and faculty needs. Our work to create a culture of care has always been animated by an intentional commitment to practice care in our everyday interactions with one another. We can’t help if we don’t know what is needed and we won’t know what is needed unless we listen to each other. As we continue to expand our capacity across all levels of the College for Transformative Justice-inflected responses to harm wherever it occurs, we need to bring that same intentional commitment to respond to needs wherever we encounter them.
To facilitate this, we have reopened the COVID Relief Fund request process for the remainder of the semester or until the funds are depleted. We also have created a protocol that will allow us to respond much more quickly to emerging staff and faculty needs. The College Advisory Council will monitor requests as they are made; these requests will be routed through the chairs or supervisors for review, and then to the College for disbursement as appropriate. We will make every attempt to respond to requests within two business days. Please submit requests at go.cal.msu.edu/covidrelief.
Remainder of Spring Semester
As a reminder, the timeline for spring 2021 semester is:
- March 2-3: Break Days will be held as previously scheduled
- March 10: Last day to drop a class with no grade reported
- April 21: Last day of class meetings
- April 22-23: Study days during which no classes will be held
March 5 – College Meeting
On Friday, March 5, from 3-4:30 p.m., we will hold a College Meeting hosted by the College Advisory Council (CAC). I look forward to our ongoing open and dynamic exchange of ideas next week, and hope that these conversations will deepen our connections with one another during this period of remote learning and work. Please look for an email from Danielle DeVoss (CAC Chair) that includes Zoom information and a link where you may submit questions.
In the meantime, please be well, stay safe, and take care.
Christopher P. Long
Dean, College of Arts & Letters