The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences renews its commitment to support faculty scholarship in the current challenging circumstances. As we all search for ways to understand these global and local dynamics, we are reminded of the lasting value of the kinds of thoughtful, empathetic, and passionate analysis central to the scholarly mission of this college. Faculty in the liberal arts and human sciences examining fundamental questions about human behavior in changing circumstances require durable and reliable support to advance their scholarship. To sustain these efforts, the college is implementing several measures designed to advance the excellent scholarship of faculty.

Research Assistance. The college is making available research assistance to faculty whose scholarship has been affected by COVID-19, across departments, schools, and programs. Two research assistants, Jessica Herling (Sociology) and Carli Smith (English) will be assigned to support faculty scholarship in the fall of 2020. Faculty needing research assistance to advance their scholarship can submit a request using this form, which also includes information about the two graduate assistants. Faculty whose research activities have been disrupted by COVID-19 — including limits on travel, complications for human subjects research, and demands of family care responsibilities — will receive priority consideration.

Long-Term Impact on Scholarship. To sustain the college’s commitment to supporting early-career faculty dealing with the unprecedented stress of current conditions, department chairs and heads and school directors have been directed to schedule discussions with pre-tenure faculty members on the possible long-term impact of COVID-19 and related conditions on each faculty member’s scholarship. These discussions should devise ways that departments, schools, and the college can support faculty research in the coming year to ensure scholarship is not disrupted for the long term. Each discussion should result in an individualized plan that might include adjustments to teaching assignments, support for childcare or eldercare, service releases, research assistance (including non-Virginia Tech assistants, if special skills are required), summer salary, or purchase of equipment. Chairs, heads, and directors should schedule these discussions for early in the semester, with a deadline of October 1 to report to Tom Ewing, associate dean for graduate studies and research, on plans for each tenure-track faculty in the department or school. These reports will result in steps implemented at the department, school, and college levels to ensure that faculty research is supported over the long term.  

Concerns about Sustaining Scholarship. Faculty of any rank with concerns about sustaining scholarship in current conditions are encouraged to consult with Tom Ewing, who will coordinate assistance in response to faculty requests.

Research Grant Program. The college will resume the research grant program, with priority assigned to faculty working toward promotion whose scholarships has been disrupted by COVID-19 conditions. The deadline for applications is October 10, 2020. More information about the grants and application form is available from the Faculty Research Grants page of the college website or directly from this survey link.

All the best—

Laura A. Belmonte
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences