Impact Of COVID-19 on Faculty

A page within Faculty Senate

Guidance for personnel decisions as recommended by the Promotion, Tenure, and Salary (PTS) Committee approved by Faculty Senate on April 8, 2021.


The goal of the Pandemic Impact Statement is to provide pandemic-related context, if desired, for a faculty’s annual evaluation and subsequent evaluation for tenure, promotion and post-tenure review. The impact statement is separate from a narrative and should be used to document impacts, accommodations, and adjustments to adapt teaching, service and scholarship during the period of the pandemic and its aftermath. It should not be used to provide additional evidence of effectiveness in any area of responsibility.

• Inclusion of a Pandemic Impact Statement is optional. However, departments are encouraged to more heavily weight impacts documented during the year in which they occur than those that are only documented when a candidate goes up for promotion/tenure/post-tenure review.
• The statement should be no more than two pages. For annual reviews it should be considered formative (documenting the immediate impacts), and for tenure/promotion/post-tenure review it should be considered summative (documenting the overall impacts).
• Faculty members will upload their impact statements into Digital Measures.
• The pandemic can be considered to have started at UWL on March 13, 2020 (Friday before spring break in 2020).

For all reviews (i.e., annual, merit, post-tenure, promotion), each unit should take into account the ongoing situation in their evaluation process. In other words, “In the context of a pandemic, how would you evaluate this faculty member?” It should be noted that the pandemic has impacted individuals differently, depending on their particular situations. As a result, it is important that faculty and instructor performance be reviewed based upon their own previous trajectory and not in comparison to others. To clearly document how the impact of the pandemic affected the review, the follow questions are suggested as prompts for the written feedback.

Questions to Address When Considering Post-Pandemic Tenure and Review:

Were all requirements met for tenure/promotion/post-tenure review?
• If no, indicate which requirements were not met and explain what additional evidence/results would be needed to obtain tenure/promotion/post-tenure review.

Was the individual on track prior to the start of the pandemic and/or at their last review?
• If no, indicate what issues were present at the time of the last review and what steps were taken to provide support to the faculty member to encourage success.
• If yes and all requirements were not met, indicate what new issues have presented since the last review.

Did the individual indicate that COVID-19 impacted their ability to succeed?
• If yes, indicate the specific ways that COVID-19 impacted their ability and how those impacts have been factored into the review decision.

Impact Statement Contents:
Impact statements should document the effect of the pandemic on teaching, scholarship, and service. Below are some questions that may be considered when crafting an impact statement. The list is not exhaustive and was built off the rubrics from the UW Women and Gender Studies Consortium Caregiving Taskforce and from other institutions across the country (e.g., MSU guidelines).

How much of an effect did any changes to class modality have on your teaching?
• Were additional teaching requirements added? (e.g., course overload, change in TA coverage, other workload changes such as lab reorganization)
• Was the amount of time normally dedicated to teaching and course prep increased due to the pandemic and/or the new teaching modality?
• Did you dedicate additional work hours to online and technical trainings?

• Were professional activities canceled?
• Were there disruptions in carrying out research and/or creative activity (e.g., access to labs, field sites, research samples/data, libraries, travel restrictions, cancelled performances, etc.)?
• Was publication or professional display of scholarly or creative work disrupted?
• Did you pivot to change your research agenda out of necessity?

Did scope of service requirements or activity change?
• How did advising and/or mentoring change to students and/or to colleagues?

• Did you face specific challenges in the development and/or delivery of the courses or completion of work in other areas (e.g., access to high-speed internet)
• Was the amount of time normally dedicated to work responsibilities affected as a result of the pandemic? (e.g., due to health concerns, caregiving, technology, etc.)

  1. Evidence of teaching effectiveness:
    • Should include teaching materials developed and incorporated into the online environment and peer evaluation of online courses
    • Should include faculty who led or assisted any trainings related to online learning or who mentored faculty in their transition to an online environment
    • Should consider the faculty member’s previous experience with online delivery (included in COVID statement). Those with less experience had greater demands placed on their time for preparation and course management
    • Could include whether and how the faculty member followed best practices for online learning and incorporated high impact experiences into the online environment
  2. Less emphasis should be placed on SEIs and more emphasis should be placed on how the faculty member used student feedback to improve instruction.

  3. Due to the impact of the pandemic, grade distributions should be given less weight. A candidate’s TAI will designate semesters occurring during the global pandemic with a “COVID semester” note.

  4. Emphasis should be placed on the faculty member’s use of available resources (e.g., CATL workshops) to enable transition to online delivery.

  5. Faculty load and course size should be considered. For example, did the faculty member take on a paid or unpaid increase in teaching load or class size to help the department or university cope with pandemic-related changes to scheduling or to assist students with disruptions in their class schedules? Any reduction in teaching load because of the pandemic should not count against the faculty member.

Review committees and JPC should recognize that any or all aspects of the research and creative works process might have been disrupted and there might be significant delays in publications, performances, and other outcomes as a result of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. This might have included delays and disruptions in data collection, review process, funding, data analysis, performance and exhibitions, manuscript and creative work preparation or development, just to name a few.

  1. Because of the cumulative and iterative aspects of scholarship, it is difficult to predict how long the effects of the pandemic on scholarship will last. For some areas, the lack of ability to engage in research or creative activities during this period may not be apparent until several years after the pandemic ends. Because of this and based on results of the faculty survey, we recommend these guidelines remain in effect for, at minimum, the next two academic years (2021-2022, and 2022- 2023). At that point, Faculty Senate should review these guidelines.

  2. Papers, talks, creative endeavors, performances, and/or other submissions accepted at conferences or venues that were canceled due to the pandemic should fully count as evidence of scholarship.

  3. Manuscripts, grant proposals, or creative works that were either under review, or in the revise and resubmit stage should be weighted more heavily than they were prior to the pandemic. Greater value should be assigned to conference submissions, and/or creative endeavors, performances that were in progress than they would otherwise be valued.

  4. If scholarship of teaching and learning activities were weighted less before the pandemic, teaching and pedagogical articles and/or other similar works should be more heavily weighted, particularly if these works were in response to the impact of the pandemic.

  5. Any lack of, or minimal research or creative activity during the period of the pandemic (March 2020 to the end of the pandemic per CDC or WHO guidelines) should not count against the faculty member.

    Clarification approved by SEC 10-05-21

    While the campus was completely or partially shut down due to the pandemic, it is understood that faculty were unable to be in their labs, performance spaces, etc. and that this will affect the number of artifacts of scholarship or creative activities moving forward.  As things are now opening up, it is expected that faculty will begin to restart their research programs. The rate at which this can occur may vary by discipline and circumstances. 

  1. Substantial service roles (e.g., chairing a committee, or professional service) that were canceled or disrupted by the pandemic should fully count as evidence of service activity. Similarly, service roles that were taken on as a result of the pandemic (e.g., leading or volunteering for a task force) should also be rewarded.

  2. Reward other service more highly such as service related to some aspect of the pandemic (e.g., service to the community by collecting and donating lab materials for hospital use, providing expertise on pandemic-related topics, contribute to university or community initiatives related to the pandemic).

To begin to recovery from the effects of the pandemic on scholarship and overall well-being, we encourage UW-L leadership to take measures to reduce faculty teaching workloads for the year immediately following the pandemic. Creativity by department chairs and deans is encouraged, while at the same time attention should be given to maintaining a strong curriculum and continuing to deliver excellence in teaching, mentoring, and advising to our students.