COVID-19 Impacts

Mason professor teaching in a mask during COVID pandemic
Supporting Faculty During COVID-19
Supporting Faculty During COVID-19

Faculty Affairs and Development has compiled resources that aims to address areas where faculty may have experienced significant challenges during the pandemic. 

In spring of 2020, the Provost identified COVID-19 as a situation falling within the domain of extraordinary circumstances.

Tenure Clock Extension Due to Extraordinary Circumstances

Extension of the tenure clock for a tenure-track faculty member may be approved for extraordinary circumstances that has substantially impeded progress toward tenure in a specific way.

  • All tenure-track individuals may seek to extend their tenure clock by one year by notifying their local academic unit head as soon as possible, but no later than May 1 of the year in which they intend to seek promotion and/or tenure.
  • All tenure-track faculty hired between August 2018 and June 30, 2021 may seek to extend their third-year contract renewal by one year by notifying their local academic unit head as soon as possible, but no later than August 25 of the academic year in which their RENEWAL decision would have been made

This extension can be used only once and counts as one of the maximum three that is allowed during the tenure-line process. 

The request must state clearly the circumstances in the faculty member's situation that might justify an extended probationary period. The letter must also state explicitly that the faculty member making the request understands that he or she will not enjoy an entitlement or stronger claim to tenure by virtue of continued membership on the faculty beyond the customary period. The request is to be forwarded (in most cases via the local unit administrator) to the school dean. If the school dean supports the request, the request, along with the dean's formal endorsement, is then sent to the Provost for further review. A decision to extend the probationary period will be made by the Provost. The faculty member will receive written notification when the request is approved.

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work

Candidates are encouraged to ensure that their materials include abstracts and conference/scholarly presentations that were canceled during the time of the pandemic.

Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring

Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, there were no student teaching evaluations for spring 2020, although faculty may choose to include evidence of efforts made to address student needs. Many faculty members engaged in significant professional development activities to adapt their teaching and learning practices, and mentored peers. Candidates are encouraged to include any professional development activities they engaged in order to better serve students and their colleagues during the pandemic.

Minimum Language for Reviewers

Given national conversations, best practices, and mounting concerns over equity, all colleges/schools should include the following minimum language in instructions to internal and external reviewers. Colleges, schools, and LAUs may choose to add to this language, as appropriate for the discipline/field of study. 

For Internal Level 1 and Level 2 Committees

Minimum language to internal Level 1 and Level 2 committees for tenure-line faculty.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty across the academy experienced significant disruptions to teaching and mentoring; research, scholarship, and creative activities; and service. In conjunction with the disruptions experienced on-campus, many faculty members had to navigate additional challenges related to working from home. As these impacts are not felt equally, the Provost approved an optional tenure-clock extension. Candidates who may have used university-approved extensions for any reason should be held to the same standard one expects for a typical probationary period; that is, additional time should not prejudice the review in any way. We suggest that you take these unprecedented events into consideration when evaluating teaching and mentoring; research, scholarship, and creative activities; and service since spring 2020.”

For External Referees

Minimum language for inclusion in all external referee solicitations.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty across the academy experienced significant disruptions to teaching and mentoring; research, scholarship, and creative activities; and service. In conjunction with the disruptions experienced on-campus, many faculty members had to navigate additional challenges related to working from home. Candidates who may have used university-approved extensions for any reason should be held to the same standard one expects for a typical probationary period; that is, additional time should not prejudice the review in any way. We suggest that you take these unprecedented events into consideration when evaluating teaching and mentoring; research, scholarship, and creative activities; and service since spring 2020.”