Life in the Time of Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all in ways that were unimaginable just a few months ago. The world has changed—our world has changed. In the wake of these events we will need to re-calibrate our lives and approach our daily activities in different ways. I am optimistic that we will come out of these events stronger than before. It is in the character of our country that we will rise to deal with difficult challenges and I know that we will in this case as well.

At Kent State University, and within the College of Arts and Sciences, we will also need to approach our world differently. Supporting our students by addressing their academic needs has been the University’s top priority and we have quickly followed suit. We are committed to the success of all our students, and we are working hard to ensure they all have the best experience our administrators, faculty and staff can provide for their success. First and foremost, the University is committed to student safety and good health. To that end, we reacted quickly to bring all of our students who were studying abroad or studying away back home. For those students on campus, the University also made the early decision to send students home, arrange for a shift to remote instruction, and protect our faculty, staff and others by reducing access to campus to essential employees only. Realizing that Kent State University is home for some students, especially our international students, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that these young men and women are supported to the fullest and that they can continue their education. Faculty and staff have rallied—working at breakneck speed to ensure high quality remote instruction and smoothing the path to student discovery and learning. Of many examples, one of the most gratifying was the work of Kara Barnett, an environmental health and safety staff member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Kara organized a university-wide effort to collect and donate medical grade masks, gloves, lab coats, and more to the Portage County EMS. Over 40,000 pairs of gloves alone! Students, too, have rallied for the cause: raising money to purchase N95 masks for our regional medical heroes, and even delivering the boxes directly to the hospitals. In all, they have raised enough money to provide several thousand masks to our caregivers.

When we began planning the stories for this newsletter, we anticipated commemorating the 50th anniversary of May 4, and the events leading up to that fateful day. We are committed to honoring the legacy of the 13 students who were shot, and the four students who lost their lives. It was a complex time in our nation, which was reflected on college campuses across the country as well. The articles we have included are insightful and allow us to think about the events of the time with the privilege of 50 year’s hindsight.

I hope you will enjoy the articles celebrating our students and faculty, and the contributions of alumni. Through it all we continue to educate hopeful and bright young men and women, and instill values of intellectual curiosity, thoughtful reflection, critical analysis, and service to mankind.

Stay safe and stay healthy. Let us know how you are doing.