Dear Community Members,
If you missed last week’s video, click here.
We are all, I suspect, asking ourselves the same questions as we shelter in place. When this finally ends, will our personal lives ever return to the way they were? Will our beloved East Georgia State College ever return to “normal?” I think we all know the answers. Of course, not.
Some of the elements of our COVID-19 personal lives will, mercifully, go away and some parts of our lives will return to “normal.” May I never again experience a spring without a Final Four? May I never again experience Easter in front of a computer? May I never again be banned from walking and running on the beach?
Yet, some elements of our personal lives have been changed forever. Some changes are tragic and negative. Lives have been lost. Financial security has been shaken or, in some cases, shattered. Some changes, however, have been unexpected and positive. We all seem to appreciate one another more and treat each other better.
This same dichotomy is certainly true for colleges and universities across the entire United States. East Georgia State College is certainly no exception.
Some of the COVID-19 changes at East Georgia State College will go away. Campus will, again, become a vibrant place filled with students, faculty, staff and community members. The simple joy of being able to walk down the hall, attend meetings, ball games and events in the Luck Flanders Gambrell Auditorium will happen. I will again be able to look out of my window and see students and faculty members playing music or drawing or discussing a great book outside.
Yet, some changes such as the financial stress created by the coronavirus will take years to remedy. On the other hand, a bright aspect of the horrific worldwide pandemic is that it has forced all of us to learn new skills. It has required us to adapt rapidly.
Take one example at East Georgia State College. Six months ago, if you had asked me how long it would take to convert 100% of our classes to a wholly on-line format, I would have told you that a timeline of one year would be extremely aggressive. When the University System of Georgia recently directed us to get it
done in two weeks to keep our campus and community safe, our faculty and staff did it in two weeks. And they did it well.
So, after the COVID-19 crisis abates, will we ever return to offering the same percentage of face-to-face classes as we offered prior to the crisis? Certainly not. Students will return to our residence halls. Students will resume their daily commute to our beautiful campuses. However, a larger percentage of our students will want and need a wholly online college education.
Consider the adult learner who wants to prepare for the future while continuing to work full-time and support their family. Consider the employer who wants its talented staff to take classes at their place of work in order to enable its staff to adapt to the future while continuing to get the work done each day. The new skills we have learned during this challenging period, will enable us to serve those students and those employers much more effectively.
I suspect many of you are experiencing a similar pattern in your personal lives. Just a few months ago, I would have scoffed if you had suggested to me that I should order my groceries online and then have them brought to my car at the grocery store. I Face Timed with my grandchildren almost every day. I would have stared at you with skepticism, however, had you suggested that we get together for a cup of coffee via Zoom. I am yearning to be able to shop inside a store and to have coffee with friends face to face. However, I have found the new shopping methods and online coffee breaks to be truly enjoyable. I am not going to throw out the old stuff. But I am not going to discard my new skills either.
All of this is to say that I am deeply saddened by the damage and tragedy which COVID-19 has brought our treasured community and college. Yet, I am positive about the future of the community and the college. The COVID-19 crisis is presenting enormous financial challenges for the college. It is presenting the college huge enrollment challenges. However, it has also taught us that we can adapt to change rapidly. It has caused us to think about how talented our colleagues, students and community members are and how we treasure our time with each of them. So, it will never be the same after the crisis ends. Yet, we will recover and move forward because we have been reminded that we are strong and adaptable as a community. Certainly, none of us will ever take our colleagues, our students or our wonderful and supportive local community for granted.
So, let’s turn now to the events of last week. This week at EGSC, we have accomplished a great deal. As a recap of the activities, note the following:
- We have received guidance from USG regarding the CARES Act and stimulus funding for students. Our plan will be forthcoming soon.
- Honors Night was held “virtually” on Thursday evening April 16. You may view our virtual honors night celebration at www.ega.edu/2020-honors-night , on our YouTube Channel, or on Facebook. The event was well “attended” with several holding virtual “Watch Parties” and posting comments. Congratulations to our deserving students for all your hard work.
- The “virtual” 10th year anniversary celebration of the Sudie A. Fulford Learning Center, a gift to the college from Pete and Ada Lee Correll in honor of Ada Lee’s mother (a long time Emanuel County educator), is scheduled for April 30. More information will be sent to each of you this week.
- Our virtual graduation celebration plans are also coming together. Stay tuned for updates.
- Fee and housing refunds were posted to student accounts this week. Postings were in accordance with the method the student has chosen for their Bank Mobile deposits.
- Reminder to check the website regularly, www.ega.edu/covid19 for updates from me, the USG, Governor’s office and Legislature, CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, Health care providers, Chamber of commerce updates and other vital information.
Perhaps the biggest thing that has happened this week is that faculty and staff are continuing to provide classes, students are completing courses and moving towards earning degrees, and the college is fulfilling its mission and staying on course in the face of COVID-19.
As the president of East Georgia State College, I have the honor of observing each day the transformational role of East Georgia State College—a special place focused on students, committed to intellectual excellence and social responsibility, small enough to be personal and welcoming, yet large enough to provide access and opportunity. That keeps me going during these challenging times.
Over the past several weeks, we have had challenges no one could have foreseen. Yet, we continue to thrive as we adapt to our new normal. Circumstances change daily and I applaud you for your flexibility and positive attitude. You continue to make it possible for the college to carry out this transformational role in the face of COVID-19.
Be safe. Be healthy.