Fall 2020

Faculty and Lab Instructor FAQ

Academic Program | Teaching/Advising | Time BlocksStudent-Related | Faculty Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure | BCQsResources  | Other 

Academic Program

1. What is Bowdoin doing to ensure that students will have a challenging and rewarding digital educational experience this fall?
The Continuity in Teaching and Learning Group (CTLG) spent the spring and early summer researching best practices for online learning and teaching and making recommendations for how best to prepare for online learning this fall. The Bowdoin Online Learning and Teaching (BOLT) team with representatives from the Baldwin Center for Teaching and Learning, the library, academic technology and consulting, and information technology, is conducting training sessions this summer for faculty informed by the CTLG report and recommendations. And this work is being enhanced by a partnership with Everspring, an outside firm that has expertise in online teaching and learning, and that “gets” the specific nature of our liberal arts model. While it will be very different from the on-campus teaching and learning experience we’re accustomed to, our faculty have embraced the opportunity to translate their courses into an online environment, including for our lab and performance-based classes, and will deliver an excellent Bowdoin education to all of our students this fall.

2. Will the grading policy return to normal, or will the temporary Credit/No Credit plan continue?
The College will return to its standard grading for the 2020–2021 academic year. However, recognizing that students may encounter challenges this fall, several temporary grade-related policy changes for the fall semester will be implemented:

  • Credit/D/Fail grade mode will be available for students to choose until the day before Thanksgiving break begins (Tuesday, November 24, at 5:00 p.m.). Additional time to choose this option recognizes that students may encounter difficulties related to the public health and online learning context at any point in the semester, no matter how much effort they have been putting into their coursework.
    • Students may choose one course Credit/D/F with a full load of four credits, and this will not count against their career total of four.
    • As is standard policy, students may not choose the Credit/D/Fail mode for first-year writing seminars, distribution and division requirements, and in most cases, major and minor requirements. However, in light of the current context, the faculty will meet early in the fall semester to discuss potential changes to these institutional policies on a temporary basis, and departments and programs will be asked by CEP this summer to consider whether any of their required courses might be taken Credit/D/Fail for current Bowdoin students.
    • From week seven to eleven (Wednesday, October 21, to Tuesday, November 24), all students carrying four credits or more who have already chosen to take one course Credit/D/Fail will be able to choose to take a second course Credit/D/Fail, and it will not count against the student's career total of four Credit/D/Fail courses. Students will initiate this request via a form that must be approved by the instructor of the course, the student’s advisor, and the student’s dean. 

3. What will happen to other policy adjustments adopted in Spring 2020, and will we make additional temporary policy adjustments for the fall?
CEP met over the summer and recommended some immediate and temporary policy adjustments for Fall 2020 in support of our students (the adjustments identified above to the existing Credit/D/Fail option and a precaution against allowing students to enroll in five courses) and noted the existing supports and options always available to students (Add/Drop and Incomplete). CEP plans to monitor these temporary policy adjustments in the Fall semester to be sure that they are functioning as intended and, in consultation with the faculty and relevant administrative staff, determine whether further changes are necessary.

4. Are any changes being implemented to the requirements for majors/minors?
There are no changes being implemented institutionally to the requirements for majors/minors (see question three above), but CEP is asking departments and programs to review their requirements and determine by early in the fall semester whether any temporary adjustments would be beneficial and feasible for their students.


1 When do classes begin for Fall 2020?
Wednesday, September 2. See the Academic Calendar and the Registration Calendar.

2. Will there be an Advising Breakfast this fall?
Yes. Pre-major advisors are expected to attend a virtual meeting on Monday, August 31 at 8:00-9:00 a.m., followed by individual advisor-advisee meetings. Note: while first-years will have already registered for four courses, this will be an opportunity to introduce yourself to your advisees and guide them through thinking about adding or dropping courses, as needed. Details will be forthcoming.

3. What is the calendar for course planning for Fall 2020?
Please refer to: the Registrar Calendar, which includes the registration phases, and the BOLT Workshops Calendar, which includes both intentional pedagogy work and digital teaching training and support.

4. What is the calendar for course planning for Fall 2020?
Please refer to the Registrar Calendar, which includes the registration phases, and the BOLT Workshops Calendar, which includes both intentional pedagogy work and digital teaching training and support.

5. Will faculty have to rethink what classes they teach Fall 2020?
Yes, we face complicated and overlapping challenges, yet with support from the Academic Affairs office, the guidance provided by the report of the Continuity in Teaching and Learning Group (CTLG), and the resources of the Bowdoin Online Learning and Teaching (BOLT) team, we are confident that our faculty can maintain and strengthen their commitment to excellence, inclusive excellence, in teaching. As outlined in the Expectations for Fall 2020 Teaching Memo, faculty are asked to focus on the learning goals for each course, structure and deliver their courses differently than in the past, and be purposeful in their commitment to fostering and building equity in their teaching. Faculty are expected to employ best practices in online and inclusive teaching, as referenced in the memo and in the CTLG Report, and to connect with their students for feedback and their colleagues for support.

6. What do faculty need to know about teaching first-year writing seminars?
Information about what faculty need to know about teaching first-year writing seminars can be found here.

7. How will “live” classes and other kinds of learning experiences be scheduled in ways that are fair for faculty and students in all time zones?
As recommended in the Continuity in Teaching and Learning Group (CTLG) report, faculty will design their classes with both synchronous and asynchronous elements to accommodate students in different time zones.

8. How will we ensure that all coursework and other learning experiences are fully accessible?
The Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching has posted resources to guide faculty in creating accessible online courses. The implementation of accessibility standards, including captioning, will be in place for all fall courses. The CTLG Report and the BOLT workshops emphasize universal design.

9. What will be different about the technology options available to us for the fall semester?
For the fall, all courses will be offered through Blackboard, so students have a consistent and coherent experience across their courses. Within Blackboard, MS Teams and Zoom, as well as different specialty software, where appropriate, will be used.

10. What is Bowdoin's Apple iPad program?
To provide broad accessibility and equity in the learning process and universal design advocated by the Continuity in Teaching and Learning Group (CTLG), the College will issue an Apple iPad Pro with available Wi-Fi and cellular data connectivity, an Apple Pencil 2, and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad, which includes a trackpad. With this common mobile computing platform, students will have the opportunity to connect to their classes, build community with each other, run the same apps and software at the same performance level, and also receive the same support, regardless of their location or learning situation. More details about Bowdoin's iPad program is available here.

11. Will faculty be expected to teach a regular course load for the fall semester?
Yes, faculty will teach a regular course load in the fall.

12. Certain classes are not easily done from a distance, like studio and performing arts and labs. How are those being handled?
Following the recommendations in the Continuity of Teaching and Learning Group (CTLG) report, we are committing to using best practices for these types of classes and have invested in the necessary tools to make adoption of these practices possible for faculty teaching such courses. The team providing faculty support and development, BOLT, will specifically address and support these types of classes.

13. How will independent studies that are required for a major or honors project work if seniors are not on campus?
The majority of seniors will complete their independent studies/honors projects from off campus. Roughly thirty seniors who cannot pursue their preapproved projects remotely because they require access to physical spaces and resources on campus and who can do so under Bowdoin's health and safety protocols have been allowed, through a petition and approval process, to live on campus. These students will be required to live and work in accordance with the social contract for on-campus students this fall.

14. How will I be able to meet with my advisees?
Most advising will be conducted remotely. The College will encourage and provide guidelines for strong advising relationships between faculty and students.

15. Will the library be open for faculty use?
Per the Return to Work Plan about protocols for being on campus, the library will remain closed until further notice. Faculty can request books and other materials from the library for pick up.

16. Will the library provide course materials for students?
Yes. The library will not place physical books on reserve in the fall, but an ebook version of all course adoption books will be purchased if available. If an ebook is unavailable, the library will purchase a print copy to be added to the general collection. The library can scan, and make available through the E-reserves service, a limited number of book chapters (see below). Questions about ebook availability should be directed to Kate Wing, the library’s Course Materials and Collections Specialist.

E-reserves—articles and book chapters—will proceed as usual. Information on e-reserves may be found here. Please note that due to copyright restrictions, the library is unable to scan books in their entirety. Faculty should consult with Carmen Greenlee, Humanities and Media Librarian, about copyright-related questions.

DVDs owned by the library can be digitized and made available to students through Blackboard. Information on requesting digitization may be found on the Reserves page.

17. What about textbook adoption?
If you have adopted books for your courses, please ensure they are correct by finding your course in Classfinder and clicking "Order Books". If you have not yet adopted books, please do so as soon as possible using this form so that students can receive their materials by the first day of classes. If you have questions about course adoptions, please email Kate Wing. Some materials, such as art supplies and molecule sets, are sold online by the Bowdoin Store. For questions about course supplies sold by the Bowdoin Store, contact Andrea Sehestedt.


1. One of the faculty’s chief concerns in the spring was the challenges that some students would face in returning to unsafe home environments, home environments in which internet access was unreliable, or home environments that were not conducive for engaging academically. What decisions were made to address these concerns?
In recognition that there would be some students facing the challenges described above, we anticipated and now have permitted a small number of students to reside on campus in addition to those first-year and transfer students who elect to live on campus. These students will still access their courses digitally. We will also use the summer to learn about and use best practices for student engagement and community building through virtual means. Finally, to ensure equity in connectivity and applications, every student will be issued an Apple iPad Pro. Additional information about the iPad program is available here.Some students may need to work to assist their families economically. Will reduced course loads be considered for them?
In keeping with our longstanding policy, students will need to be enrolled full-time at Bowdoin. If students need to make decisions about course load and other commitments, they are encouraged to talk to their academic advisor or dean to help make the choices that are best for them.

2. What is the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching doing to support students who depend on their on-campus programming? Students who managed well on campus may have difficulty now— how can we help students who need these services?
The Baldwin Center continues to offer its full range of services to support all students, including one-on-one consultations, webinars, workshops, Q-tutors, STEM study groups, writing assistance, and peer mentors, as well as additional resources specific to the added challenges of online learning. The BCLT’s Online Learning webpage provides access to this extensive collection of available resources.

Faculty Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure

How will the fact that the fall semester will be taught digitally affect faculty appointments, promotions, and tenure?
In the spring, given the disruption of COVID-19, pre-tenure faculty on the faculty tenure track were granted an additional year on their tenure clock, and spring 2020 student rosters were excluded for sampling for student retrospective letters in tenure and promotion cases. At this time, there are no plans to exclude fall 2020 rosters for sampling for student retrospective letters in tenure and promotion cases. The Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure (CAPT) will be asked to advise the dean on offering the tenure-clock extension to new tenure-track faculty members joining the college in the 2020-2021 academic year.


Will course questionnaires (BCQs) be reinstated and required again in the fall?
Yes. BCQs will be reinstated and required. As planned (per a faculty vote in December 2019), a new set of BCQ questions will be implemented with the Fall 2020 semester. In addition to their primary aim, which is to reduce bias, these questions will be more suitable to a variety of teaching and learning modes.


What sort of additional training and support are being provided to faculty, lab instructors, lecturers, etc.?
The BOLT team, with representatives from the Baldwin Center for Teaching and Learning, the library, academic technology and consulting, and information technology, is conducting training sessions this summer for faculty informed by the CTLG report and recommendations. And this work is being enhanced by a partnership with Everspring, an outside firm that has expertise in online teaching and learning, and that “gets” the specific nature of our liberal arts model.


1. How will we offer new faculty orientation and support for incoming faculty?
The Office of Academic Affairs is conducting a digital orientation experience for new faculty, in a series of sessions over the summer and in coordination with department chairs and program directors and staff members in student affairs and the BCLT. We will also develop, for chairs and directors, guidelines for best practices in supporting new faculty through the fall semester.

2. Spending the summer preparing for a digital fall semester is going to affect faculty abilities to do the research planned for the summer. How will the College accommodate for this disruption?
The coronavirus pandemic has had, and will continue to have, profound effects on individual and College plans. We will have to work together to determine how to continue to support members of our community moving forward. The one-year extension of the tenure-clock described above is a means by which we recognize the impact on junior faculty especially.

3. Will I be able to travel to conferences, symposia, invited talks, etc., this fall?
All College-sponsored, non-essential domestic and international travel is prohibited through December 31, 2020. This policy will be reviewed later this fall for the spring 2021 semester. Faculty can find travel and other academic-related information here.

4. Can faculty invite people to campus?
No. We strongly encourage you to hold all meetings, presentations, class visits, and collaborations virtually.
Any funds from the Lectures & Concerts committee, the dean’s office, or any endowed funding source will be extended to next year upon request. Contact Ann Ostwald with any questions.