The latest on Berkeley’s efforts to bounce back from academic disruption

Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost; Oliver O’Reilly, chair of the UC Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate; Amma Sarkodee-Adoo, ASUC president, and Adam Orford, president of the Graduate Assembly, issued the following message on Wednesday:

We are writing to provide you with an update on Instructional Resilience Week and to outline the steps we will be taking to put the campus in a better position to weather power outages or other disruptions to instruction.

In a series of listening sessions, students spoke consistently about their concerns with rescheduled review sessions and exams and the potential loss of days of RRR week to make-up instruction. Graduate students spoke about the challenges of having to potentially reschedule qualifying examinations, deadlines to file dissertations and the campus’s lack of preparation for outages and poor air quality. Some progress has been made: the Graduate Division is allowing qualifying examinations to be held by video conferencing through the end of the semester and instructors, including graduate student instructors, have signed up through the Center for Teaching and Learning for Zoom Pro accounts to enable classes to be conducted virtually.

Instructors were widely encouraged to develop a plan for how to offer alternative instruction should a need arise later in this semester. Dozens of instructors took advantage of 1:1 consultations in the Academic Innovation Studio (AIS) to help develop and implement such plans and consultations will continue to be available throughout the year. Faculty requested support with recording lectures, captioning and general use of bCourses tools. To name just a few, Nikki Jones of African American studies, John Battles of environmental science and policy management and Rich Lyons of the Haas School of Business are colleagues who have adopted some of these tools and can speak to their experience. Groups of staff and faculty have also started to explore best practices at other institutions and are researching these plans to see if some of them could be easily incorporated on our campus.

The possibility of similar disruptions later this semester or next fall is clear, while the need to prepare for larger scale events such as an earthquake remains. Accordingly, we are establishing an Instructional Resilience Task Force, jointly with the Academic Senate, the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly. Nominations of members to serve on the task force will be requested from the Senate, the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly. In addition, nominations for membership on the task force from the campus at large are open until Thursday, November 14. Please send nominations to EVCP@berkeley.edu. The task force will be charged with producing recommendations to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for improving instructional resilience on campus, by March 20, 2020.

Thanking you for your service and patience, and wishing you a successful completion of this semester.