As President Richard M. Englert said earlier this week, we want to ensure that our students continue to have the best possible educational experience in an environment that is safe and healthy for them, our faculty and staff. Our plans, which have involved more than 150 people including faculty and other experts and which were approved by the city Department of Health just this week, are comprehensive and caring.
Representatives of the Temple Faculty Senate have been involved in the decision-making process as each major protocol or action has been reviewed and approved. It is important to note that the Faculty Senate and its members are the appropriate voices to be heard when these decisions are made.
TAUP (the union that represents a portion of Temple’s faculty) asked its eligible members to vote on several questions about the return to campus. They proposed that Temple not assign any face-to-face work on campus for their members, making the decision whether to teach in-person completely voluntary. The results of this vote do not come close to representing a majority of faculty views. For one thing, only slightly more than one-quarter of Temple’s faculty are even eligible to vote on TAUP’s platforms.
We want students and parents to know that faculty are available and engaged to teach courses that will have an in-class element. Indeed, we hear daily from faculty who are eager to return to campus. In our surveys, 89% of faculty respondents agreed the university is managing this situation well. We appreciate their confidence.
Over the last few months, with the exception of TAUP leadership, Temple has had excellent cooperation with the leadership of other bargaining units at the university as we have worked through the challenges that COVID-19 presents. These union leaders took the time to understand the extensive safety protocols in place and the importance of being there for our students.
The university has made it clear that it will work with every faculty member and employee to make sure that they are working in a safe environment. We have made accommodations when needed, and will continue to do so.
There remains much work to be done, but with the help of our outstanding faculty and staff, we will ensure the safest and highest quality educational experience for our students. Finally, should circumstances warrant, we are prepared to adjust our plans as needed to ensure that our students continue to make progress towards their degrees in a safe environment. We understand people’s anxieties when none of us know for certain what the conditions will be at any time in the future, which is why our plans are adaptable if conditions change.