Iuliano Updates Faculty on Vaccination Prospects, APPC Proposes Motion Expanding the S/U Grading Option
By Anna Cincotta, Editor-in-Chief
Feb. 18 Faculty Meeting Key Takeaways :
- Last week there were no new cases of COVID-19 among the student body. From what we know so far from this week’s testing, there are still zero cases on campus.
- President Iuliano is confident that faculty and staff working on campus will have access to vaccines when the state moves into vaccination Phase 1B.
- Provost Chris Zappe announced that professors Hakim Williams, Shelli Frey, Benjamin Kennedy, and McKinley Melton were appointed to endowed chairs and fellowships beginning on Sept. 1 of 2021
- 656 students chose to use the S/U option for at least one class in the fall. Out of this group of 656, 98 students earned D’s or F’s in those classes and ended up with “U” grades.
- In their next meeting, the faculty will vote on a motion allowing students to choose the S/U option for any number of courses this spring.
President Bob Iuliano began today’s faculty meeting by congratulating first-year seminar professors following this week’s CAFE Symposium, an event dedicated to the presentation of research conducted by students during these semester-long fall courses.
“To the faculty, thank you—thank you for helping to reinforce, for our students, the joy in learning and discovery.”
The second update he shared with the faculty was that the number of COVID-19 cases on campus remains low, and no students have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks. All nine of this semester’s reported cases among the student body were reported during the first round of testing, and no students are currently in quarantine or isolation. Regional and national trends, according to Chairman and Senior Executive Consultant of Keeling & Associates Richard Keeling, who advises the college in terms of its COVID-19 response, are moving in the right direction.
“We’re off to a good start,” Iuliano said. Certain restrictions are being lifted in response to these numbers—Servo and the ballroom are now open for limited capacity in-person dining, for example. Still, Iuliano warned against getting too comfortable. “Obviously, this is not a call for complacency,” he said.
Vaccinations for faculty and staff working with students on campus will also be eligible to get their vaccinations when the commonwealth moves from Phase 1A to Phase 1B. “The less good news is it still remains very unclear when there’s going to be a sufficient supply of the vaccine to move from Phase 1A to Phase 1B,” Iuliano said.
The final piece of news shared by the President this afternoon revolves around the forthcoming Strategic Plan and its connection to the college’s fiscal future. At the last Trustee’s meeting, Jeff Salingo—an expert on higher education and where it’s going—shared a presentation with the Board on what colleges will look like post-COVID-19. The next faculty meeting will cover this conversation in greater detail, but Iuliano shared that he remains hopeful about Gettysburg’s situation.
“First, the Strategic Plan has us moving in the right direction, which I’m encouraged by,” he said. “Second, the road ahead for us, and schools like us, holds enormous promise if we act with wisdom, with boldness, and with the students at the heart of our efforts—which I know we’re going to do.”
In his Provost’s report, Chris Zappe shared that—after a Board of Trustees meeting this past week—professors Hakim Williams, Shelli Frey, McKinley Melton, and Benjamin Kennedy have been appointed to endowed chairs and fellowships beginning on Sept. 1 of 2021. He also announced that the Curriculum Review Committee, which meets weekly, will invite 29 students to participate in a student advisory group. Alumni and current faculty will be invited to provide feedback during the development of the new curriculum.
Department chair and professor of psychology Dan McCall then provided the faculty with a new motion from the Academic Policy and Program Committee that would expand the current state of the S/U grading option for spring. If approved during the next meeting, students will be able to choose this grading option for any number of courses taken during this term. During the discussion following this proposal, faculty members expressed specific concerns. Associate professor of sociology Cassie Hays, along with McCall, fielded questions.
Students are expected to make their decisions about using the S/U option by April 9.
In the chat, associate professor of music and coordinator of keyboard studies for the Sunderman Conservatory of Music Jocelyn Swigger wrote: “Could there be pedagogical benefits to letting all students make the decision about S/U after they see the grades? Would it make students more courageous, because they know they have the net of the ‘S’ or ‘U’ grade? Could it also lessen honor code violations?”
“Seems like Jocelyn’s suggestion would also reduce workload for the committee,” assistant professor of economics Meg Blume-KoHout responded.
In the next faculty meeting, the APPC motion regarding expanding access to the S/U option will be taken to a vote.