FAQs for faculty who receive a request for support or who wish to volunteer re: COVID-19

Western faculty, because of their expertise, may be asked to participate in the COVID-19 response effort in Whatcom County or beyond. Faculty also may have a desire to volunteer to support the response effort. This document addresses aspects of these possibilities.

Can faculty serve in a capacity outside Western as part of the COVID-19 response?

Yes, faculty can contribute to the COVID-19 response effort outside of their primary roles at Western as teachers and scholars.

If I get a request, what is the process for responding to that request?

If you receive a request from Whatcom Unified Command or some other organization engaged in the response effort for assistance, you should consider whether it fits under service as a part of faculty workload. You should consult your department’s unit evaluation plan for specifics, but generally service to the community in your professional area of expertise is considered service for the purposes of faculty evaluation.

If the request fits into the service aspect of your faculty workload in both content and time commitments, you should alert your department chair and dean, who will then notify the Incident Command Structure (ICS) purely for purposes of tracking Western’s response to the pandemic.

If, however, the request is for more time than normally would be expected in the service part of workload, you must consider that request in the context of Western’s core mission of education. It may be that the request is significant enough that Western would consider reassigning your faculty workload to allow you to participate. Therefore, you should consult with your chair and dean, who will make the decision about whether to reassign your workload in consultation with the Incident Commander. If the request is approved, the dean will write a letter documenting the reassignment for purposes of evaluation. Faculty will continue to receive their full pay from Western in this situation.

If I would like to volunteer time, what is the process for doing so?

Volunteering has some similarities to, but also some differences from, receiving a request for assistance. If the volunteer work is in your area of professional expertise and is for a small amount of time, it would be handled similarly to the receipt of a request as described above—alert your department chair and dean, who will notify ICS for tracking purposes only.

If the volunteer work is outside your area of expertise, or is of longer duration than a normal service commitment, then you should consult with your chair and dean. Because Western cannot gift resources, and your time is a resource for which you are paid, Western would not be able to support such volunteering that would be done as a substitute for Western work. There are three ways in which extensive volunteering could be done. First, you could utilize the policy on outside compensated activities (POL….). Although volunteering is by definition not paid, such “work” can be considered to fall under this policy, which allows for one day per week on average over a quarter, with approval of the dean. Second, you could volunteer on your own time, while still fulfilling your regular load at Western. Third, you could ask for a temporary reduction in FTE and pay for the period of time you would be volunteering to cover the time you would spend on the volunteer activity. This also would need to be approved by the dean, including any changes in workload that would accompany the reduction, and documented. Once again, we would ask that you inform your dean, who can inform ICS for tracking purposes.

Can I expect support from Western in my outside activities?

Faculty engaged in work or volunteering for an organization outside of Western should not expect to use Western resources in that work. The organization you are working with should provide you with the personnel, technology, and other support necessary to conduct your volunteer activities.