Faculty and staff receive numerous email communications from the central administration regarding COVID-19 policies, return to work policies, memoranda regarding instruction, and the like. Unfortunately, I have found many of these communications to be poorly written and/or organized, both in terms of the email text and associated attachments, and many contain links that are either broken or that point to pages that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.

Taking the time to wade through the avalanche of communications is time consuming, and it is especially frustrating when these communications do not convey important information in a cogent matter. I ask that the administration take the time and care to check the accuracy of all communications sent to faculty, staff, and students, ensuring that links point to the content they are intended to point to, and that critical information is conveyed more clearly rather than with some vague statement(s) that point(s) to a link to follow for further instructions or information.

I use the Provost’s memorandum on fall 2021 instruction (dated 10 August 2021) as an example.

1. Faculty who wish to obtain an exception to the F2F default teaching modality can claim a medical exception. The memo provides information (page 2, item #1) on HR processes, and a link to this site: https://hrs.wsu.edu/covid-19/. If you navigate to this site, it is not clear where you need to look or what you need to do in order to obtain the medical exception. There is a small box outlined in yellow with a link to HRS Disability Services, and this appears to be where faculty need to navigate to check on the medical exception. I’ve had several faculty tell me that they cannot find the information necessary to complete a medical exception, so I’ve had to take time out of my day to help them navigate this process. This is both frustrating and an inefficient use of my time. It really would not take much effort or thought to have a very specific section on the HRS page for medical exceptions (e.g., “Please Click Here for Medical Exceptions as Outlined in the Provost’s Memorandum”, set off from the rest of the generic HRS page so that faculty and staff can easily navigate to the appropriate site). One needs to navigate through 2 additional links to find the necessary form! This is highly inefficient.

2. Faculty who choose option #2, the designated SO (some online) option of delivery, must conduct at least 25% instruction F2F and meet 1 of 4 different avenues to be in NWCCU compliance. This is noted on page 3 of the memo. If one were to choose option 2 or 3, going through AOI, there are further notes to “Instructions will be sent out by AOI shortly on how to request this credential” – this credential is the remote instruction certificate through Badgr. I do not recall seeing any information from either AOI or Badgr. As of this writing, at least 1 of my faculty members has informed me that there are no available trainings, but that AOI intends to have one in September and one in October. That is a bit late in the game — it’s August 30, a week after the start of the semester, and the remote instruction is supposed to be completed by August 2021.

3. Related to #2, there is a link in the Provost’s memo to trainings from AOI (item 3 on page 3 of the memo) – the link takes you here: https://li.wsu.edu/trainings-workshops-tutorials/workshop-schedule/. Similar to the link to HRS for medical exceptions noted in #1 above, it is not clear what one must do or where to look for courses / trainings that satisfy the so-called remote instruction credential. You have to dig a little further on the page to find the correct information, and that is another click away. Once again, it would not be that difficult or too much to ask to have a very clear section that is highlighted so that faculty can easily navigate to find the appropriate information, preferably in a single click.

I submit this information both as a concern of my own and as a Faculty Senator who is representing constituents on the Spokane campus.

In summary, much of the information coming from the central administration lacks clarity. We must have information presented to us both in a timely manner and in a cogent format that allows us to navigate to the appropriate place easily and quickly. We’re all intelligent people, and we know how to find information. The fact that so many of us have struggled and continue to struggle with messaging from our administration is both unfortunate and unnecessary, it just detracts from the work we all want to do and that we are paid to do.

Glen Duncan, Professor and Chair, NEP