Thank you for everything that each of you has done to meet the pressing and seemingly ever-present needs stemming from the presence of COVID-19 on our campus, in our communities, and in our world. I have heard it said many times, that there has not been a pandemic of this wide sweeping magnitude since 1918. Together, we are experiencing something of incredible impact and change, that has impacted every part of each of our lives.
Across our university, COVID-19 has been life altering for all of us. It has caused us to rethink, repurpose, and recommit to new and unique ways of teaching and educating our students, as well as working with and sharing information with one another. At the same time, this pandemic has pushed us to be intentionally creative about course delivery, course design, reciprocal learning, and collaboration.
As the months have passed since our unit began working remotely on Wednesday, March 18th, we have made it our goal to be flexible, creative, and compassionate by working with colleagues from across our campus to create, collaborate, and support new and exciting faculty development programs. We appreciate and recognize the new Office of Online Programs & Instruction, the Office of Information Technology, the Division of Student Success, the UT Libraries, the Office of Risk Management within the UT System, and member units and departments of our High Impact Practices Advisory Group, CIRTL Advisory Board, and Inclusive Teaching Taskforce, who have been instrumental contributors and leaders of the programs that we have been involved in since March, such as the Virtual Vol Bootcamp (led by the Office of Online Programs & Instruction), the First Year Course Academy (led by Dr. Sally Harris), and even our New Faculty Teaching Institute that was delivered using Zoom and Canvas.
In regards to our unit’s current state, we want to make sure that everyone knows that we’re here and ready to serve. Since the Provost’s announced reorganization in July we have continued moving forward to meet campus needs. We appreciate Dr. Matthew Theriot for his service and leadership, and we look forward to continuing to meet the needs of the campus’s faculty related to teaching under the leadership of Dr. Diane Kelly, the newly appointed Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.
In following the university’s charge, our unit has physically returned to campus to provide foundational support when needed on a daily basis. We have committed to have a physical presence on campus each day with safety for our team, and any visitors, ever-present at the forefront of our minds. Through this unique and challenging season, we are now available to our faculty members and stakeholders both in-person and online, as all of TLI’s programs will be offered using Zoom through the fall 2020 semester for safety, accessibility, and convenience.
As we look towards the beginning of the fall, we also recognize and know that social justice issues are also important and prevalent, so we invite everyone to view our resources focused on inclusive teaching, and know that more opportunities for conversation, intervention, and support will be coming soon. We will not stand idly by knowing that our classroom spaces can be places of social learning and social connection, and we want to be your resource for effective inclusive teaching strategies, pedagogy, and student learning.
Lastly, as our campus’s home for faculty development in the area of teaching, we know that in order to be strong proponents and allies of inclusivity, we need to model it and live it out authentically everyday. Therefore, we are reexamining all of our daily working habits and structures to ensure that we are inclusive of all of the members of our team, no matter their age, exempt or non-exempt status, education earned, or experiences acquired. Everyone is valuable, and we believe in the power of all, not just the power of one.
If we can be helpful to any of our faculty members who have the responsibility to teach, graduate teaching assistants, or post-doctoral scholars, please let us know.
We are here to serve.
Christopher E. Lavan, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Teaching & Learning