Care and compassion during the final weeks of term (April 7, 2021)

[Summary: This memo reminds faculty of the break days on April 8 and 23. It encourages instructors to revisit the FAS’s Guiding Principles for our Teaching and Learning Community and to treat students, staff, colleagues, and themselves with care and compassion during the final weeks of the semester.] 

To: All FAS faculty and instructors in Yale College and the Graduate School Cc: FAS Steering; FAS Dean’s Office staff; GSAS Dean’s Office staff; Yale College Dean’s Office staff   

Dear colleagues, 

Two break days remain this term: tomorrow, April 8, and Friday, April 23. We write once more to remind you of the importance of preserving these days as respites for our students and ourselves: they should be treated as though they are part of a normal spring break. Please do not require students to attend meetings on these days, and do not schedule exams or assignments on the break days or the mornings that follow.  

Observing these break days reflects respect and care for our students and ourselves. The same ethos of respect and care was articulated in the Guiding Principles for our Teaching and Learning Community developed last summer by a committee of faculty and students chaired by FAS Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development Larry Gladney. We hope that you will revisit this document of principles, which outlines a vision of how our community can learn and flourish despite distance and isolation. At this moment, more than a year into a pandemic that has caused compounding stresses for faculty, staff, and students alike, it offers a crucial reminder of how the joy of teaching, learning, and discovery can connect us. 

Sustaining this teaching and learning community even as we ourselves are weary calls on our reserves of care and compassion. We encourage you to take some time for yourself – to breathe the spring air, to reread a favorite poem, to reconnect with an old friend. As we wrote on March 26, as instructors, you have tools and accommodations at your disposal to ease student stress. If you are concerned about student isolation, you might consider creating informal, optional opportunities to connect. Drop-in office hours and informal group or one-on-one virtual gatherings may help alleviate the sense of disconnection that some students may be experiencing.  

With gratitude for your understanding and compassion as we approach the final weeks of the term, 

Tamar, Lynn, and Marvin

Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Marvin M. Chun
Dean of Yale College
Lynn Cooley
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences