End of Semester Message and Important Information & Reminders

December 09, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

As we prepare for the final few weeks of the fall semester and look forward to a well-deserved winter break, we have much to celebrate.

First, we must celebrate our extraordinary resilience as a community. We are nearly at the end of our first in-person, on-campus semester since the pandemic began, and the adjustment to our “new normal,” particularly adhering to our campus health and safety protocols, was not an easy one. The university’s campus teaching and research environment is different than it was before the pandemic — it may have even felt uncomfortable at times.

Nevertheless, our shared commitment has kept the COVID-19 positivity rate low and ensured the ongoing health and safety of our entire community, and as a result, our scholars have been able to continue advancing our academic mission and positioning us for future success.

We also must applaud the time and effort we have devoted to prioritizing our culture of empathy. The pandemic persists and may for some time yet. The empathy we extend to others must persist as well, as it has helped us create greater understanding and encourage support of each other through challenges. The finals period is busy and stressful for students and faculty alike, and over the next few weeks — and in the future — I ask that you keep showing care and understanding for our students, your colleagues, and yourselves.

As the semester comes to an end, I would like to acknowledge and thank President LeBlanc for his dedicated service to the university. His steady leadership over the last four years, particularly during the disruption of the pandemic, has positioned GW for future excellence. I am grateful for having had his partnership during my time as interim provost and wish him well on his retirement from the university.

In the new year, I look forward to our continued work together as we strive to achieve preeminence as a global research university. I am also excited to welcome interim president Mark S. Wrighton on January 1. With years of experience as an administrator and educator, he will be a strong leader during this transition period as we search for a permanent president.

Finally, I encourage you to visit the Provost website for important end-of-semester information and reminders about campus health measures, submitting fall grades, student and faculty wellbeing resources, and more.

As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of GW. I hope you have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday break with your families and loved ones.

Sincerely,

Christopher Alan Bracey
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Law
 



Campus Health Updates

On December 3 and December 8, the university sent the following updates about COVID-19.

Boosters

Although a sixth-month booster dose is not yet required by the university, we encourage everyone to receive one and upload booster documentation to the medical portal.

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing centers will close on Thursday, December 23, and will re-open the week of January 3. If you need a test prior to travel, please schedule it 48-72 hours in advance of your trip. Tests performed by 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 22 will be available by late Thursday, December 23.

If your next test due date falls over the Winter Break period, we recommend that you schedule your test for the first day you return to campus to restore campus access. It will take about an hour from when you test until your GWorld card is activated. Appointments are available online now through January. 

  • If you are returning to campus the week of January 3, we strongly encourage you to test the day you return. Campus access holds due to overdue testing will go into effect January 5.
  • If you are returning to campus the week of January 10, we anticipate very high demand for testing on January 10, 11 and 12. Please schedule your test for the day you are returning to campus or earlier if possible. Campus access holds due to overdue testing will go into effect January 12. 

Omicron Variant

Through our Public Health Lab, we are able to conduct genetic sequencing, and screening of positive cases in the past month shows no cases of the Omicron variant detected so far at GW. We will monitor cases and as always will continue to assess whether any additional safeguards are necessary. For now, the university will continue to require indoor masking and regular COVID-19 testing.
 

Submitting Fall Grades

It is extremely important that you submit grades as soon as possible after the completion of final exams. University policy requires that grades be submitted within five business days of the final. If the exam is held on the last day of finals (Wednesday, December 22), the grades must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, December 31. Grades can be submitted online 24/7.

Grades not being submitted on time can negatively affect a student’s financial aid and academic standing. A student may not pass the federal “satisfactory academic progress” threshold and thus could lose eligibility for federal aid. Furthermore, students facing suspension as a result of their fall performance may not be notified of their status in a timely manner if grades are submitted late. A failed course also impacts course registration sequences, especially where prerequisites are concerned, and students will need adequate time to meet with advisors on alternate plans. Some of these circumstances can delay the conferral of a student’s degree.

Please help us honor our commitment to offering students the best possible academic experience by submitting your grades on time.
 

Student and Faculty Wellbeing Resources

The CARE Team allows all members of the community to submit a care referral for any student who may need additional support beyond assistance with classwork, so I encourage you all to keep this valuable resource in mind. Also available to speak with our students are counselors with Counseling and Psychological Services.

For faculty, the Human Resources website and Faculty Affairs website have resources that will help you continue to navigate challenges and changes.

 

Course Material Adoptions for Spring 2022

Please help us support our students by submitting your Spring 2022 course material selections. At this time, we have received 60% of course adoptions. If you have submitted your adoptions, you can verify your materials by checking the GW Campus Store website at GWShops.com.

Receiving faculty adoptions early helps students by:

  • Giving them the opportunity to review required course materials.
  • Allowing them to research cost savings and make timely purchasing decisions.
  • Helping them prepare for classes by receiving their course materials ahead of time.
  • Meeting the needs of our scholarship students.

Submitting course material selections early also ensures compliance with federal law under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), which requires that all course costs are visible to students prior to course registration.  The Campus store also needs additional time to place orders with publishers due to delays in supply chain and shipping.

You can complete your course adoptions by visiting go.gwu.edu/coursematerials. If you have questions or need assistance with adoptions, please contact:

Susan Schenck
Course Materials Manager
202-994-0786
[email protected]

Janet Uzzell
Campus Stores Director
202-994-7377
 

Digital Accessibility for Course Materials

GW is committed to making all digital content, including course materials, ETDs, and faculty publications, accessible and usable for everyone. Instructors are responsible for building an inclusive learning environment by ensuring that all digital course content, such as syllabi, readings, videos, etc. meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, Level AA.

Multiple resources are available to assist instructors in developing or ensuring the accessibility of their courses and research output:

  • The Accessibility Checklist for Digital Course Components provides an easy-to-understand summary of accessibility basics for instruction. 
  • A series of digital accessibility workshops is available in spring 2022 to provide a general introduction to classroom digital accessibility issues, discuss accessibility as it relates to Blackboard, and cover easy ways to make  documents accessible. Workshops are free to GW instructors, teaching assistants, and graduate students and most are offered in a virtual format. Many of these workshops are also appropriate for graduate students in creating accessible ETDs. 
  • Blackboard Ally  is an optional application that reviews the files uploaded to a Blackboard course, scores how well the content meets accessibility requirements, and then provides guidance and tips on improving accessibility. Ally also creates alternative formats of course files, allowing students to download the file type that best suits their needs. You can enable Ally through the control panel on your Blackboard course. 
  • GW's Disability Support Services (DSS) provides faculty support and information for supporting and assisting students with approved accommodations, as well as general information to improve course accessibility for all students through Universal Design for Learning. Should you have a student who is registered for DSS accommodations that are more complex in nature, be sure to read the student’s letter to professor. The DSS office also will be proactive and reach out to you to discuss your course plans and how they can provide the needed support to both you and your student.  If you need assistance with Closed Captioning of Media or CART services for an approved accommodation, please contact Disability Support Services at [email protected] for additional assistance.
     

Faculty Awards Nominations Due December 10

The nomination period has been extended to December 10 for this year’s GW Faculty Awards.

Each year the university honors professors who have done extraordinary work with the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prizes for Teaching, Scholarship, and University Service, the Bender Teaching Awards, the Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Awards and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research Faculty Awards. These awards are given annually to commemorate excellence in teaching, research and service at GW.

Nominations for the Trachtenberg, Bender, and Amsterdam Awards are now due by December 10 and all supporting materials must be submitted by January 21. All nominations must be submitted through the Faculty Affairs website for these awards.

Nominations for the Office of Vice Provost for Research Faculty Awards are now due by December 10, and supporting materials must be submitted by January 21. All nominations for OVPR Faculty Awards must be submitted via InfoReady. For more details, please visit: https://research.gwu.edu/ovpr-faculty-awards.

Please consider taking a few minutes to nominate an outstanding professor or colleague. For more details on nomination materials and criteria, please click on the links below, or visit facultyaffairs.gwu.edu/awards-honors.