5.1.20: Week 7 Update from Provost Farrell

A update sent to faculty and staff. 

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We made it! Well, almost. We still have quite a bit to wrap up: finals, grading, reading papers, end-of-semester documentation and more, but I think we can safely say we made it successfully through the semester. To me, this feels like more of an accomplishment than any previous semester, so be sure to take a moment to recognize the hard work, creativity and determination that got you—and all of us—to this point.

There’s a tradition in sports of playing out of position because that’s what the team needs in a particular moment. Many of you do that regularly in non-pandemic circumstances, taking on roles outside your natural or most comfortable ones—the ones you were trained for—because that’s what your department or college or students need. This semester in countless ways shook up our entire team, forcing many of us out of our regular positions and into very different circumstances, into new positions that may not have lined up all that well with what comes easily or naturally to us. But we all played our new positions as best we could.

For many faculty, this semester ended up being one with a much stronger focus on teaching and learning than a “normal” 40-40-20 effort would suggest. We adjusted to what we needed and what our students needed. Whether we thought of ourselves as natural and experienced online teachers or not, we played that position. Whether we thought we could have productive meetings on Zoom or not, we played that position. Responsibilities and team dynamics shifted. Our approaches to problem solving had to change. We leaned on and learned from each other in unexpected ways. We played our new and unusual and often incredibly stressful positions, and we finished the game.

I hope you can find the time to rebalance and reflect, both individually and with your colleagues, on how we can adjust and play the next game even better. We now have some time to think about what we just experienced and prepare for the possibility that we may be out of position again for a part of the Fall 2020 semester. As you know, the Faculty Senate is working to modify R&P to give the Provost the flexibility to ensure that your flexibility isn’t a hindrance toward tenure or promotion. Still, flexibility is a valuable asset that we have needed and will continue to need. As any athlete will tell you, it is a critical part of a winning team.

I expect over the summer we will be able to open the campus slowly, though likely with limited numbers and limited time. At the moment, we are still under a closure order from Governor Wolf. As conditions on campus change, we’ll do our best to keep you informed, but I expect the pace of opening will be disappointingly slow. We’re also working hard to plan for the fall and to make our best guesses as to what that will look like for all of us. There’s no crystal ball for this situation. We’re doing everything we can to plan for any and all possibilities.

On a lighter note, I’ve received some more video recommendations, and I share them here. I hope they can help add a note of celebration and relaxation to the end of this memorable semester. Thank you for all you’ve done to finish the game.

Be well.
Pat Farrell

An original song from Lehigh’s own Alea Oakman ’20, “Senior Spring Quarantine”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZpbvzuvPM4

The many faces of Zoom: https://www.inspiremore.com/types-of-video-callers/

Different types of people in quarantine: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=743749969492590

The reassurance of Sir Patrick Stewart reading Shakespeare to a cat: https://twitter.com/sirpatstew/status/1254963819807473665?s=21

How to explain the pandemic to your past self: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms7capx4Cb8

A daily affirmation to get you going: https://youtu.be/qR3rK0kZFkg

A glossary for these strange times: https://forge.medium.com/a-glossary-for-the-strangeness-of-pandemic-life-938e5a259a2e

A snapshot of the end of every Zoom meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_FgHb-BGzk

Revised Disney songs for quarantine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI47Q_pfqsQ

A relaxing meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKyekQ1njNQ&feature=youtu.be

A feel-good wedding story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/04/28/wedding-social-distance-lockdown-coronavirus/?arc404=true