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News + Events

Final Exams, Emerging from Hibernation, Budget Cuts

April 30, 2020

This message includes several important announcements, recommendations for administering finals, an update on the status of emerging from hibernation, answers to questions arising from the announced budget cuts, and information on resources made available by CAPS.

  1. Important News:
  • Prof. Martha Oakley, who has been serving as Associate Chair for Curriculum for nearly two years, has accepted the position of Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education starting this coming fall. Please join me in thanking her for her proactive and capable handling of the many challenges associated with her current position, along with her efforts, in close collaboration with our very talented and valuable teaching faculty, to support our transition to online instruction.  The VPUE’s office is very fortunate to be able to capitalize on her vision for equity in undergraduate education.
  • I am also pleased to announce that Prof. Charles Dann III, who has been serving as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Biochemistry program, will step into the position of Associate Chair, effective 1 July.

Enormous thanks to both Martha and Charles for taking on these essential responsibilities.

  1. Additional announcements, information, and responses to frequently asked questions:
  • Associate Instructorships- This coming fall, we may have a shortage of AIs due to delays in the arrival of new international students, regardless of whether courses are virtual, face-to-face, or some hybrid.  A call for information on availability of potential non-traditional AIs may be sent out in the coming weeks as enrollment in fall courses becomes clearer.
  • Recommendations for final exams:  Details on addressing challenges with cheating, technical issues, and accessibility are included on the attached document (Final Exams Recommendations.docx).  Briefly:

While all methods for examining students remotely that we have tried have limitations, we recommend using Canvas Quizzes for your final exams. We have attached an instruction sheet for how to set up your exams. Should you run into issues, we would be glad to help you. Please contact Martha Oakley, and she will get you set up with an expert promptly.

We will work to get a reliable remote proctoring program in place by the fall semester, as we will probably offer exams remotely for large classes, even if we have some in-person elements to our instruction.

The most important thing to remember is that it will take your students longer to take their exams remotely, especially for those with poor internet or old digital devices. Please make your exams considerably shorter than they have been in past years! We recommend offering exams that are at most 50-65% as long as your typical exams.

  • Plans on emerging from research hibernation: Still in the initial stages of formulation at the campus and university committee levels.  We expect campus to issue guidelines in the coming weeks. The department will do all it can to facilitate a safe return to lab. This may involve students, faculty and staff phasing in, working in shifts, usage of PPE, making cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer stations widely available, checking air filtration, etc. Please direct any specific concerns to Jonathan Karty so he can include them in our preparations.
  • Research Infrastructure: Geode 2 Research Storage available.  The College and UITS have partnered to provide high capacity, high performance, and affordable file storage to researchers. Geode2 storage space is funded until June 30, 2023 and may be extended past that by mutual agreement of the College and UITS. The UITS Research Storage group administers the Geode2 service and the College provides consulting on new and existing workflows. Automatic daily backups and replication to a hot-standby system on the IUPUI campus ensures data integrity and availability that cannot be accomplished with local NAS units. Since IU operates the Geode2 system on campus, performance is unmatched by cloud storage options. Geode2 is compatible with any client that can mount SMB network shares, including Windows, Mac, and Linux workstations, and is also directly available on the Research Desktop and IU’s research supercomputers. Requests for storage space are handled fully within the College, and can usually be fulfilled within days. Spaces up to 8TB are available at no cost to researchers, and additional space is available at $150/TB/year. Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) web tools are coming soon. Please reach out to if you are interested in using and with any questions.
  • What will fall look like?  As detailed in Pres. McRobbie's recent email, IU is working on five contingency plans ranging from all-face-to-face to all-virtual fall instruction. Decisions are expected from the campus level in mid-June.  However, it is reasonable to anticipate using some online tools for handling medium and large lecture courses in order to maintain social distancing.
  • Are our jobs secure?  All messaging from the College and campus is that everything will be done to preserve our current staff and faculty workforce.  As you are undoubtedly aware, there are major budget cuts underway, and salary and hiring freezes figure into these cuts.  Bottom line: While our budget will be stretched very thin, we do not anticipate any layoffs or furloughs.
  • Finally, I know a lot of us are struggling with grief, exacerbated by feeling isolated.  Information on resources from CAPS available for students, staff and faculty is included at the end of this message.

Thank you all for your continued efforts to keep the department active and running during hibernation and virtual instruction.