This spring the Dean College Community, along with colleges and universities across the United States, transitioned to an online learning format due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its rapid spread. With stay-at-home orders in place, students, faculty and staff navigated through these unprecedented times, learning (in some cases for the first time) the ins and outs of the digital college experience.
While we tried to understand what this new normal was, our community was forced to adapt to change, and fast…and adapt we did.
As we transitioned to a fully online learning environment, our goal was to maintain frequent contact with students and offer as much academic and personal support as possible.
With our student’s always at the forefront of our minds, Dean College faculty and staff created new ways to deliver curriculum, interact with students and accomplish learning goals virtually.
The Dean Difference was felt throughout the entire process, as faculty and staff maintained our close-knit community, interacting daily via video chats and virtual classrooms, as well as providing fun activities to provide stress relief – because let’s be honest, the aches and pains of sitting more than normal on the kitchen chair, couch, bed (or whatever your makeshift desk chair was), are REAL!
From weekly “Coffee & Career” conversations and learning interviewing skills through online video formats to student-athlete team meetings, personalized meetings, activities and online events were flooding our student’s inboxes. Calendars were now filled with events like “Monday Matinees,” “Thursday Siestas with Jim” and Friday night “Theatre Viewing” parties with Daniel.
We started hearing comments like, “I can’t say thank you enough to my Dean professors that try to brighten our moods every day. I’ve received an endless amount of support and encouragement to keep on learning and be successful in my studies.”
And, “The students, faculty and staff of Dean College are a very close-knit and supportive group of individuals. That doesn’t change, even when we’re spread out all over the world.”
Also, “One of my biggest concerns with the transition to online learning was that I would be confused on my assignments and that my professors would be hard to reach. But I quickly learned how clear, and hands-on my professors were being for us which made things a lot easier for me. If I had any questions or needed anything, they were there for me right away and I appreciated that more than they will ever understand.”
Of course, students were concerned about the transition to fully online, but the supportive notes we received really demonstrated that we were making a difference – even if from a distance.
As the days turned to weeks and weeks turned into months, our Bulldogs finally made it to the last day of classes on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
While these last few months haven’t been ideal, in true Bulldog fashion, we made it through, better than we were before and ready for whatever format of learning our new normal might be.
We of course share sadness with our students for missing out on their spring semester on campus. We too missed cheering our student-athletes on as they would have competed in spring athletics. Our hearts hurt for the students in our performing arts programs, who trained so hard all year to display their talents for all to see during the spring dance and theatre performances.
And of course, we feel for our senior class. This certainly was not the final months of their college experience that they had hoped for. This past Saturday, May 9, 2020, on what would have been their Commencement, we celebrated the Class of 2020 with a virtual toast. We are still committed to holding these exercises at a time in which we can safely convene as a community.
As the spring semester ends, we are confident in our ability as a community to tackle any situation that comes our way. We are committed to our students and providing a quality, personalized education to every student and will continue to offer that promise in whatever format we need to for years to come.