Wednesday, April 22, 9:23 AM

April 22, 2020

Good morning everyone, quite a lot to cover this morning, make yourself comfortable. We'll start with a celebration of who we are at our core, a solid academic institution made up of people like this: 

Congratulations new Associate and Full Professors! I am pleased to announce the following Arts & Sciences faculty members have earned tenure and been promoted to Associate Professor:

  • Dr. Onur Bakiner, Political Science
  • Dr. Serena Cosgrove, International Studies
  • Dr. Michael Jaycox, Theology and Religious Studies
  • Dr. Claire LeBeau, Psychology 

I am also happy to share that the following faculty members have been promoted to Full Professor:

  • Dr. Sven Arvidson, Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies and Philosophy
  • Dr. Kathy Cook, Psychology
  • Dr. Tanya Hayes, Environmental Studies and the Institute for Public Service
  • Dr. Matt Hickman, Criminal Justice
  • Dr. Sarah Shultz, Kinesiology
  • Dr. Charles Tung, English

Congratulations to all of you on all the hard work and accomplishments that led to this point, we are honored to have you in our academic community. 

Join us for the Arts & Sciences Coffee Hour Today from 9:30 – 10:30 am. Pets, kids and Zoom backgrounds welcomed! Heather sent out an announcement last Wednesday at 6:09 pm and the Zoom link is also here. We scheduled it so faculty who teach classes Wednesday morning can come for at least part of the time.

The Provost’s Office has a new faculty resources support page. He announced it in an email he sent at 11 am yesterday, it is password protected and the link is here. He also shared a new email for covid-related questions from faculty:

There is more information about how supporting students through this crisis. Students may be interested in the Wellness and Health promotion website here. It includes a link to their COVID-19 newsletter.

Here is my perspective on furloughs at this point. Fr. Steve noted he expects to make and share decisions about leadership pay cuts and wider furloughs by May 1; I am guessing formal decisions will be announced very close to that date. The following is my opinion and perspective at this point, not an official determination of the university. I do not have any updates on how and where the furloughs might land and these are my own thoughts, not the formal position of the university, but I wanted to give you a sense of how I was looking at things. I linked to a definition of furloughs in a previous update, but to briefly review, furloughs are temporary actions based on reduction in work that is expected to return. When an employee is furloughed, they remain an employee of the organization but have less or no work/pay during the furlough period.

the university is looking at where there is less work given the move to virtual presence and the closure of campus. Thus, the decision about who is furloughed takes place based on work responsibilities and the presence or absence of that work. Job responsibilities that are most directly related to physical campus activities will be most impacted. I want to emphasize I would much rather not be in this situation taking these measures among our dedicated, hard-working staff, but our financial situation requires action.

in places where work is clearly related to being on campus, I expect the university will make decisions about particular jobs that will impact people in that role, regardless of where they are (what division, college) in the university. However, I expect to have some voice in where furloughs take place in our college, following the university review across types of jobs. That is, the university may make decisions about types of jobs, then give me some opportunity to have a voice within that job group in the college. Where I have voice around where furloughs are implemented, I will have two key considerations:

Where there is relatively less work due to campus closure. I know that many people’s responsibilities have shifted and for many of you there are several new activities replacing the work you used to do on campus. I expect everyone affected by the furloughs has plenty to do, I can only make these decisions relatively. While I will engage in a few confidential consultations on this point, I will not engage broad discussions about relative workload across positions in the college within the available time frame. We planned and I still hope to have such a conversation as part of our five year plan, but not under such time-pressed circumstances as we face right now. Informed decision making is very important but such an approach seems fraught for many reasons from both the perspective of our staff and the college.

How to keep people as “whole” as possible. As best I can, I will prioritize how the type of furlough impacts a person’s resources and income, some specifics are important to understand here. In Washington state, there is no (or very little if any) distinction in state-provided benefits between being furloughed (which Washington state calls “standby” in their policy) and being unemployed, except that if you are furloughed you have a 12-week window when are not required to search for work.

An April 9 Seattle Times article by Paul Roberts, available here, provides clear and detailed information about how the combination of state and federal relief supports people at different wage levels. He only talks about unemployment, so it is important to again note the benefits are the same for furloughed/standby and laid off workers from the state perspective for full-time layoffs and furloughs. Because it is a furlough/standby instead of a layoff, the employee can remain eligible for benefits from their employer as well.

To the best of my understanding at this point, part-time furloughs may be different in regard to compensation. This point is being looked into right now and is very important from the perspective of the employee and thus for me. In terms of how our work is distributed in the college, I would much prefer more part-time furloughs rather than fewer full-time furloughs (of course, I’d prefer no furloughs the most). However, if it appears that part-time furloughs make it harder for employees to receive benefits, I will recommend full-time furloughs to help keep people whole financially.

Any furloughs will create challenges.  Full-time furloughs will create more concentrated problems in the areas in the college where those people are located, but if it is better for furloughed employees to be furloughed full-time the rest of us will adjust to support them. There may also be a combination of full and part-time furloughs depending on university determinations about available work in different positions, but again I will only recommend part-time furloughs if it is my understanding those persons will be eligible for benefits at the same proportional rates as full-time furloughs. To keep people whole in the face of everything.


In his press conference yesterday, Governor Inslee announced a COVID-19 recovery plan here, providing more information on what the early stages of reduced physical/social distancing would look like, hopefully in a few weeks when we have sufficient contact tracing and other measures in place. The next step he shared was hiring 1500 contact tracers by mid-May. The Seattle U emergency operations team is starting to consider what the earliest phases of that might look like for our campus, they will be small initial steps with vigilance around health precautions.

 Mike Myint update: Nothing new from Mike today, but I thought you might enjoy this post he put up over the weekend about supporting health care workers. The link is to a Washington Post article that may require sign-in

Comfort in...grief out

There is so much compassion the world right now. Despite what we might see on the news, I see chalk drawings with support, jokes and wishes for community safety on my sidewalks. Signs and Easter eggs in windows of support. I have friends who I haven't heard from in years reach out. I see people caring for the most vulnerable members of our society in meaningful ways that we just didn't have time nor the focus for in the past.

Compassion is different in my mind than empathy. Empathy is being able to walk in another shoes, to try and understand deeply using either personal experience or stepping outside of one's self into another's challenges. Compassion is different, it is the action oriented next step from empathy. Empathy is hard, but compassion is harder.

In this nicely written article by Dorothy Novick, a Pediatrician in my old stomping grounds of Philly, this article is and isn't about C19 specifically, but about how we support each other in times of great challenges and how to turn Empathy into Compassion. This type of support goes well beyond healthcare workers and to how each of us deals with a generational event like C19. She talks about her own personal situation with the death of a friend and how difficult it was to support that person. Between the lines of this article, clinicians are trained to deal with helping patients through grief and grieving and most of us feel comfortable and well trained to do this. For friends it is different, because the circles are different.

My mother, a nurse for her whole career, hasn't stepped out of her apartment in two months. The compassion of my extended family, who offered to bring some food to my mother, then my daughter, who recalled grandma was jonesing for Salmon, resulted in closing the "compassion loop." It's my cousins in LA who check on my Mom regularly and my friends who out of the blue, asked if they can help.

My mother will never show the grief out part of this circle theory. She once slammed a car door on her hand and didn't even make a sound and just told us to go on with the vacation. She doesn't have to show grief out, but she does appreciate every kindness given to her deeply ways that I am still learning after all of these years.

Comfort in, grief out seems like a nice way to define the social circles we all deal with the changes of C19 and support each other to get through this crisis.

How not to say the wrong thing to health-care workers