This Monday marks something altogether new for many of us, as all Spring semester courses resume online. We aren’t in truly uncharted territory, but an Institute-wide online scenario is certainly not something we ever would have anticipated. This disruption is temporary and will be difficult, but student success is and will remain at the forefront of all of our efforts. I sent a few thoughts to faculty over the weekend, emphasizing that these are not normal times — successfully moving forward will require extraordinary flexibility, empathy, adjustment, and communication.
Faculty know that delivery and curricula must be adjusted, but foremost is the need to establish good, honest, and constructive two-way communication. I urge faculty to communicate clearly and listen to students. To students, I ask you for patience and urge you to be resilient as adjustments are made. Despite the difficulties and obstacles ahead, we have a shared responsibility to work together — faculty to offer the best possible education within the constraints of the new format, and students to adapt and learn as best they can in this difficult environment.
These first few days of this coming week will be critical to our individual and collective success. Our entire community – students, faculty, and staff alike — will have to work in collaboration to establish new expectations based on flexibility and a shared understanding of getting through these unprecedented circumstances together.
Using technology in new ways to provide instruction, conduct assessments, and communicate will be a challenge, but just as I shared with faculty, it is important to exercise patience. We must be mindful of what many of us — faculty, staff, and students — may be going through at home, with children and parents, illness, etc. These times certainly will require compassion, transparency, agility, creativity, and likely a sense of humor, where we can muster it, but I know we will get through it.
More than anything, we must stay connected. This includes adjustments to coursework and feedback on what’s working and what’s not working, but most importantly, being a resource when help is needed. We have to take care of one another. Each of our lives has been disrupted, and we must be fair and understanding.
I thank you all for your hard work, diligence, and commitment to deliver and receive the best education possible under these unprecedented and trying times. I am sure that we will succeed, and I am sure that we can count on the “can do” attitude that is in the collective ethos of this great university.
-Rafael L. Bras, Provost