06/26/2020 12:31 pm
Greetings from Rockford University! The English expression “May you live in interesting times” certainly applies to living through 2020. Over the last few months, we have weathered a storm that we didn’t see coming. But as a liberal arts institution that values the development of critical thinking and transferable skills that help one respond to unforeseen challenges and opportunities, we were prepared. When I share the importance of the liberal arts with incoming students and parents, I use this simple definition of the liberal arts: exposure to a set of subjects that provide the essential knowledge needed to be an active participant in civil life. I then pivot to the fact that we now live in what some are calling the knowledge age – a period after the information age where data was key. In the knowledge age, facts and figures are widely available and the key is to take that information and create new knowledge that will help us deal with whatever comes our way.
I am deeply appreciative of the work that our faculty and staff did between March and May to pivot our operations in order to serve students and maintain business continuity. With just ten days’ notice, our faculty completely transformed their course delivery from in-person to remote learning. As they made decisions individually and collectively throughout that time, the student experience was the focus. At the same time, most of our staff transitioned to remote work, which was new to most of them. Because we had a few students who needed to remain on campus, our residence life staff, safety and security personnel, food service and maintenance workers, and a few others were here each day to keep the campus running.
One of the interesting things that has come out of this time has been learning new ways to communicate with one another. For example, since travel was limited, we hosted a number of alumni gatherings over Zoom. More than 300 alumni engaged with us – and one another – during these events. I held a few Zoom meetings with alumni and friends as well; it was not the same as sitting in a restaurant or living room together, but we had good conversations nonetheless. I suspect that we will continue to utilize this meeting method long after we are able to travel freely again.
In this edition of the Catalyst, you will see many examples of how our campus community pivoted and responded well to a challenging set of circumstances. You’ll also meet some of our Regent Heroes, alumni who are on the front lines of this crisis. I trust that you will enjoy reading about the work of Rockford University alumni, faculty, and staff as we collectively responded to COVID-19.
Rockford University has time and again proven itself resilient over the last 173 years in the face of a variety of threats, challenges, and opportunities. Just as those before us did, we are working to remain nimble, resourceful, and adaptive.
Eric W. Fulcomer
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