Message from Provost: Academic Updates

Published March 30, 2020


As we begin our second week of remote learning and university activity, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your efforts and share a few academic updates. Because of the extraordinary efforts of our faculty and staff, we have transitioned nearly all of our spring courses to a remote learning format and successfully completed the first week of remote instruction. 

Academic Affairs Policy Updates

We all understand that challenges will arise and there will be an increase in requests from students for accommodations; we will continue to work as a university to address the challenges and opportunities presented to us in these extraordinary times. To address some of these challenges, we have introduced temporary policy changes and resources including:

  • Extending the deadline by which students can resign to the last day of exams
  • Extending the deadline by which students can petition to be graded S/U to the last day of exams and temporarily suspending the minimum number of S/U credits for students per semester
  • Allowing public thesis and dissertation defenses to be held remotely
  • Launching a webpage hosted by Academic Affairs  to provide up-to-date information to students about resources and policy changes
  • Moving tutoring and advising to remote delivery
  • Conducting regular surveys of instructors and students to identify challenges. These will be shared with the appropriate office in an effort to ensure instruction goes as smoothly as possible

Academic Integrity

Maintaining academic integrity is critical to our ability to deliver an education to our students that is recognized around the world for its excellence and rigor. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Graham Hammill, will share strategies and resources for maintaining academic integrity in a remote learning format. In addition, the Academic Integrity website offers tips on safeguarding integrity in an online format.

Planning for Summer Session

Our goal is to return to in-person learning as soon as state and county guidelines permit. In the meantime, we ask instructors teaching this summer to be prudent and flexible in planning for summer courses, which will likely need to be delivered via a remote learning format. We will make a decision regarding the first summer session by April 9 and the second summer session in early May.

Faculty Research/Tenure and Promotion

The COVID-19 situation has likely disrupted laboratory based research and caused anxiety about tenure and promotion processes, especially for our pre-tenure faculty. We will reopen our labs as soon as possible, while maintaining our first priority, which is to protect you and your students’ well-being.   For the remainder of this academic year, the tenure and promotion process, including the work of the President’s Review Board, is continuing on a remote basis. We are coordinating with SUNY and others regarding offering tenure clock stoppages. While we will be conducting spring 2020 course evaluations to capture what should be interesting student feedback, the results from the student evaluations will not be used in future faculty tenure and promotion processes.

In these challenging times, I have been inspired by the way that you are sharing best practices and learning from one another as you navigate a space that is new to many of us.   I also have been motivated by your innovation as you try new techniques to maintain relationships with your students, a fundamental element of great teaching. While UB will always be a place where faculty and students gather to learn and discover, the events of the past several weeks and weeks to come will spur many of us on to innovate beyond what we thought possible a few short weeks ago. Your efforts will benefit students for generations to come.    

In gratitude,


A. Scott Weber                                                                                      Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs