Planning in the Face of Uncertainty
May 28, 2020
Dear Kent State University Employees,
One constant at Kent State is the beauty and upkeep of our campuses. Moema and I have been spending our Sundays driving the back roads and visiting our Regional Campuses. Like the Kent Campus, they are in bloom, are attractive and, sadly, are empty.
As we gradually reopen, more of us will have an opportunity to appreciate in person the beauty of our campuses. And yet, as comforting as this beauty is, it does not erase the pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the anxiety produced as each one of us wrestles with the prospect of returning to work in person.
Because Flashes Take Care of Flashes, we are committed to providing the safest possible environments on our campuses while respecting the concerns of our employees as we navigate this new normal both personally and professionally. And for faculty in particular, we will support those who wish to teach their courses face to face in the fall, and we will do our best to honor the wishes of those who ask to teach remotely.
Working with state of Ohio health officials and with our own College of Public Health experts, we have introduced the Flashes Safe Seven principles to guide the safest possible return to campus. For faculty teaching remotely, our wonderful Center for Teaching and Learning and our Office of Continuing and Distance Education will offer workshops throughout the summer on effective online pedagogy.
I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to make sense of our current situation in the face of all this uncertainty. Should I teach in person? If my work brings me to campus, how can I make the safest possible return? Anxiety kicks in, at least for me, as I ponder the future.
Below are links to two recent articles I found helpful as an individual and as president when trying to make sense of the new normal, and when making decisions about the reopening of campuses. Perhaps you will find them helpful as well as you make similar judgments and decisions in the coming weeks. The first article (accessible with your FlashLine login), written by a psychologist, suggests ways to approach making such weighty decisions. The second article, written by a medical doctor treating COVID-19 patients in Boston, explores the efficacy of wearing masks and practicing good hygiene habits.
No one has all the answers at this moment. I wish I did, but I do not. I am certain that you, our dedicated employees, will continue to serve our students well whether your work brings you to campus or if you continue working remotely. And I can assure you, as we reopen our campuses, we will keep the health and safety of our community members at the forefront of our planning. We will make it through this pandemic together, and all of you continue to make Kent State better and stronger.
Todd Diacon, Ph.D.