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Provost's Update for Week of November 2-6

Message from Provost Cyril Clarke: Visit with Faculty Senate and topics of discussion

Provost Cyril Clarke visited with the Faculty Senate last Friday to offer his thoughts and answer faculty questions on a range of issues concerning our teaching and research community. As a follow up to that discussion, Provost Clarke sent a message to the academic community today to summarize his perspectives and reiterate the university’s commitment to faculty as they plan and design course modalities for the spring semester. The following are highlights from today’s message:

  • With infection rates increasing in the region, we must continue to be vigilant in complying with public health measures proven to be effective.
  • New River Health District states that the recent uptick in cases in Montgomery County has been driven by community infections unrelated to Virginia Tech. Their data shows that infection is not spreading from students to community members or university employees, nor is it spreading in instructional settings.
  • We will continue to be aggressive in our efforts to combat and contain the virus, especially when it comes to protecting vulnerable individuals.
  • Many faculty members have said they would prefer to deliver face-to-face instruction rather than online, but at the same time, recognizing everyone’s paramount concern is the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students.
  • As faculty review plans for teaching courses in the spring, please consider the impact that modality has on academic quality and students’ satisfaction with learning experiences, mental health and wellness of students and their ability to connect with faculty, and our progress toward an eventual return to in-person learning and campus experiences.
  • Consideration for more face-to-face instruction in the spring applies only to those situations in which health safety risks can be mitigated. 
  • Final decisions concerning course modality still rests with faculty, in consultation with department heads and chairs.
  • Opportunities for further conversations to gain a better understand the complexities of the spring semester for faculty are being created and will be announced soon.

An archive of this and past messages from Provost Clarke is available on the Provost’s website.

COVID-19 travel guidance and tips

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the approaching holiday season, Virginia Tech Emergency Management shared some tips and guidance related to in-state and out-of-state travel. It is recommended that students, faculty, and staff avoid all unnecessary travel and large gatherings whenever possible. If travel or gatherings with others is planned, be sure to wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently, and get a flu shot.

There are currently no Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Virginia Department of Health (VDH), or Virginia Tech quarantine requirements following domestic or international travel. If you do travel, are in large gatherings, or think that you may have been exposed before or during your trip, take extra precautions to protect others for 14 days after arrival at your destination or your return home:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Practice physical distancing (greater than 6 feet) around people not in your household or “pod” which may include family you have not been around recently.
  • Always wear a face covering when outside your home.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms.
  • Avoid interactions with people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you start to feel sick, isolate yourself at home and consult with a medical provider.
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19.

For more information on travel and recommendations before, during, or after your trip, read the campus notice or visit VT Ready.

Faculty Affairs: Office relocation to Collegiate Square

Faculty Affairs is relocating its offices and staff, and will begin providing services from its new location at Collegiate Square, Turner 460, Suite 301, effective November 9, 2020. The new location will offer dedicated space and resources for supporting faculty development and success programs, as well as a place for faculty to meet and collaborate outside of formal programming.

Faculty Affairs’ new address and main phone number are as follows:

Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Collegiate Square, Turner 460, Suite 301 (0164)
460 Turner Street, NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Main office number: 540-231-6670

Read the campus notice for complete details.

ICYMI: Jeff Earley appointed vice provost for academic resource management

Jeff Earley has been named vice provost for academic resource management, replacing Ken Smith who left to become chief operating officer for Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus. In his new role, Earley will provide leadership for budgeting, space management, and performance data for academic programs. He will also oversee the implementation of the performance-based budget system for academic programs across the institution.

“Jeff has proven himself to be a highly effective leader in the many functions of the academic resource management office. As a respected member of the Provost’s Office, he has played a central role in managing the complexities of our academic budget and resource allocation strategies. The relationships and partnerships he has built across the campus and his commitment to serving the needs of our academic departments make Jeff the ideal person for this critical leadership position.” - Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke.

Read the full announcement from VT News.

Recent resource and information updates

Please visit VT Ready and the Provost’s website frequently for new and updated university information. All members of the campus community should also read their VT Daily email for further important updates, notices, and resources.