Provost’s message to faculty on March 20, 2020

From: “Nina Mikhalevsky (nmik)” <>
Date: Friday, March 20, 2020 at 3:29 PM
To: “Nina Mikhalevsky (nmik)” <>
Subject: Update from the Provost

Dear Colleagues,

As we reach the end of the first week of remote instruction and advising, I wanted to check in with you and share a few thoughts. This has been a challenging week on so many levels for all of us, especially as we’ve all come to realize that this is going to continue through at least the end of the semester.

I know that pivoting to remote instruction with very little time has been an enormously stressful challenge for both faculty and our students, and I am so grateful for your amazing efforts and genuine care for students. I do think it is important for all of us to acknowledge that we have shifted to emergency remote instruction, and this is just not going to be the same thing as teaching a fully and purposely developed on-line course. This is why we have emphasized that this is a period of remote, alternative instruction, some of which might be fully on-line but much of it will be delivered using a wide variety of alternative methods. Our goal is to support our students finishing their work for the semester and being as flexible and accommodating as we possibly can with our students, while also being kind to ourselves in the process. As you progress in the next several weeks, I would encourage you to continue to make use of the technologies with which you and your students are most comfortable and familiar. For many of us, this means email and using Canvas.

We know that many of our students are struggling, especially those for whom internet connectivity is poor and unreliable. The digital divide is very real for many of our students and we have heard from a number of students and their families about the challenges they are having in getting connected. I encourage you to support these students by offering alternate assignments that require little bandwidth. Students can also take advantage of the revised pass/fail and withdrawal deadlines; for some students, it may be necessary to offer incompletes as they may need some additional time to access the course materials and complete the work. Remember, you have considerable discretion in helping us reach our goal – completing the semester for as many as possible, helping our seniors and graduate students reach graduation, and for others — who started the semester fine but may be having challenges — working to find ways for them to eventually earn the credits in which they enrolled. We have and will continue to adjust our policies and deadlines to support these efforts.

Many of you have asked about course evaluations as well as tenure clocks and I fully understand the concerns these issues cause for our junior faculty. I will be consulting with and getting recommendations from the Deans, Associate Deans, CAS Chairs, UFC leadership, P&T chairs, and others before we make any decisions. I will share details as we have them in the coming weeks.

Finally, as for all administrative and other offices on campus, all of us in the Office of the Provost have now moved to telework. We are checking regular mail each day as well as voice mail frequently, and some of us will be rotating a limited physical presence on campus. Our contact information remains the same so please do not hesitate to email or call any of us at any time.

I hope that you and your students are doing as well as possible. Thank you again for your incredible work on behalf of our students, please stay safe, and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


Nina Mikhalevsky
University of Mary Washington
Fredericksburg, VA 22401