JH to show some mercy to some pre-tenure faculty

Dear University of Oregon Faculty Colleagues,

As the 2020-21 academic year winds down, we look forward with great hope for the coming fall. Yet we cannot pretend that the past 15 months have not had dramatic impacts on many in our community. This message announces a new program to help address potential impacts on a particularly vulnerable subset of the community: pre-tenure faculty.

National data and a recent campus survey suggest a significant negative impact on faculty research and productivity during the pandemic. While factors such as childcare, remote teaching, and travel restrictions have impacted all scholars, a number of studies also suggest that there have been disparate impacts on research productivity among faculty, particularly caregivers and faculty of color. This is especially concerning for pre-tenure faculty because of the potential career impact of the tenure process itself.

Our institutional support of faculty throughout the pandemic includes: development of resources for remote teaching, the online course initiative, tenure-clock extensions, Covid-19 impact grants to assistant and recently promoted associate professors, and minimization of service commitments.

As we emerge from the pandemic and begin to transition back to campus, we want to let you know that we are also now offering an additional program for pre-tenure faculty during the period from Winter 2022 through Spring 2023 (five academic terms). The program will provide a course release for one academic term for negatively impacted faculty members so that they can focus solely on advancing their scholarship and creative practice that term. This is an investment in the research mission of the institution and the lifelong success of early-career faculty, made possible through a philanthropic gift.

The goal of the program is to serve as an equalizer, supporting faculty members whose research productivity was negatively impacted by the pandemic based on one of the following criteria:
Had primary caregiving responsibilities for a close family member during the pandemic
Suffered from Covid-19 related illness or had a close family member who was stricken
Sustained a death of a family member due to Covid-19
Unable to conduct research because of Covid-19 restrictions
Any pre-tenure faculty member who is in year one through five of their UO career during academic year 2020-21 is eligible for the new program. Faculty may not have submitted a tenure dossier for academic year 2021-22 and must meet one or more of the above criteria.

The deadline to apply is September 17, 2021. In applying for the research term release, faculty will be asked to submit a CV and to briefly address how their work was impacted during the pandemic. While we anticipate most requests will be honored, impact will need to be clear, as will the plan for the term to be helpful in returning to pre-Covid levels of productivity. Submit an application through this link.

To achieve the desired outcome, the course release cannot be taken in a term when faculty retain other teaching responsibilities. In order to minimize disruptions to scheduling during the five terms of eligibility, the timing of the term will need to be mutually agreeable for both the academic unit and faculty member.

We thank the many people across the university who provided input on structure and intent of this program. We recognize that this is not all things to all people who have been impacted over the last year. However, it is an opportunity to support the success of faculty whose career paths could be irrevocably damaged. In this way, this program is an investment in the long-term future of the university as a whole.

The pandemic, as you all know, has taken a toll on our community in various ways. Our hope is that this new program will provide some relief to faculty members whose research has been impacted due to significant obstacles since the pandemic began. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Janet Woodruff-Borden at execviceprovost@uoregon.edu.

We wish you the best and hope you are able to gain some respite during the summer. Please take care.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

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