Fall 2020 Campus Update from Dean Dees

Greetings!

Yes, summer is over, and we are witnessing back-to-school activities all around us. From shopping for new clothes and school supplies, to gearing up for athletic competitions, there is always a sense of excited anticipation with the beginning of a new school year. 

Dr. David Dees
This year, however, the back-to-school activities on the Kent State University Columbiana County campuses have been anything but typical. We are excited to be back, but, just like every other school – from pre-schools to high schools and colleges – we had to make significant changes to our physical spaces and how we deliver instruction to our students. 

When we went remote in March, we did not stop what we do as a university…and that is to focus on our students. Quite the contrary. Our faculty and staff jumped in and, within two days, began teaching students remotely. Our support staff continued to serve students and the public by being available through technology. Sure, there were bumps in the road; but we pushed onward and fulfilled our promise to provide our students with a quality education. 

Now, as the 2020-2021 academic year is beginning to unfold, we continue our commitment to the students. That commitment is not just about their academic success; we are also committed to their health, safety and well-being like never before.

Unfortunately, not all things on campus will be routine or “normal.” Instead, we will embrace this new perspective and work within the boundaries of the COVID-19 pandemic. When you visit either the East Liverpool Campus or Salem Campus, you will notice measures taken to keep everyone safe: see-through barriers at reception desks and in classrooms, signage about physical distancing, restrictions limiting the size of gatherings, hand sanitizing stations, face coverings, etc. These are the same things we have all grown accustomed to in most public settings. 

The staff and faculty members spent countless hours over recent months preparing for the return to campus. Our instructors completed robust training that will help them use new technology to reach all students through face-to-face, remote or a blended instruction format.

The IT staff members worked hard to find and install the technology that makes this all possible. Our maintenance crews worked hard to make the necessary changes within our buildings. And staff members never missed a beat with advising students, helping with financial aid, getting them enrolled, counseling and keeping lines of communication open.

We are as ready as we can be to welcome everyone back to campus, but we are playing it safe! We are limiting the number of employees in our buildings to minimize the risk of contamination and, with technology, we are able to deliver instruction to our students without the need for them – or the faculty members – to be on campus.

I am proud of the work Kent State University is doing to address the unending issues that continue to pop up related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are being hailed as a model for other institutions, schools and businesses to follow regarding our emergency preparedness and practices. 

After almost six months of uncertainty and confusion in the world around us, we are ready to get back to the business of providing our students with a quality educational experience and to help prepare them for their futures. 

As Kent State President Todd Diacon stated: “We have our roadmap for a successful opening of the academic year. We have our roadmap for learning and the creation of knowledge during the pandemic. … We have our roadmap for taking care of each other so that each of us is made safer. We have our roadmap and our collective commitment to our core values because we are Kent State.”

Stay safe and remember: Flashes Take Care of Flashes!

Sincerely,

David M. Dees, Ph.D.
Dean and CAO for Kent State University-Columbiana County
Interim Vice President of System Integration at Kent State

POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2020 - 8:29am
UPDATED: Friday, August 28, 2020 - 8:35am