UUP ready to take on huge task of moving to SUNY online learning to contain coronavirus

Source: UUP Press Release

United University Professions, the nation’s largest higher education union, stands ready to work with the governor and SUNY as the university system moves to shutter classes and migrate to an online learning format through the end of the academic year to stem the spread of coronavirus.

“We welcome the governor’s acknowledgement of the severity of the crisis SUNY faces,” UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., said today. “The safety of our students and members is paramount.”

Kowal said UUP has been in conversation with SUNY and the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations to address the plethora of issues confronting the University as it begins shifting to a mostly online learning environment.

Some of the issues are technical, including the number of extra hours UUP-represented employees will spend working to move coursework to online platforms. Some instructors who teach labs and other courses that can’t be taught online will likely return to campus to teach those classes, as will members who care for animals and those with jobs rooted on campus.

UUP will also be vigilant when it comes to the work of SUNY medical school students, residents and staff at SUNY’s four academic medical centers.

While the safety of students and staff is of utmost importance, SUNY’s academic quality must be maintained.

“It will be very challenging to move the vast majority of SUNY courses online,” said Kowal, who taught online courses as a professor of political science and Native American studies at SUNY Cobleskill. “This is a big step.”

“We will take a calm, measured, common-sense approach as we work with SUNY and the governor’s office to address a very difficult situation,” Kowal said. “The health of our students and our members is at stake, and we take that very seriously.”

UUP represents 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees, with members at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health sciences centers in Brooklyn, Buffalo, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.