As We Prepare for Monday

Kent State University

March 13, 2020

Empathy; noun; “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”
Forbearance; noun; “patient self-control; restraint and tolerance”
Kindness and Respect in All We Do; Kent State University core value
Flashes Take Care of Flashes

Dear Members of the Kent State University Community,

At the close of an eventful week, below are words to express my thanks for all that each one of you is doing to address the demands, tensions and uncertainties of the day. On Monday, we will begin a new chapter in the history of instruction at Kent State that harkens back to the roots of Kent State Normal College as a correspondence and summer school in the first years of our existence, and to the heroic efforts of faculty and staff to conclude the academic term after the shootings closed campus in 1970.

It is the nature of our current challenge that nearly anything I write will be superseded by events on the ground every 12 hours. In six days, we went from the first notice of COVID-19 cases in Italy to bringing more than 230 students home from Florence and South Korea – a nearly superhuman effort and testament to the dedication of our people. In the span of 30 minutes, the Mid-American Conference went from playing its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to canceling both (and, later that day, to canceling all spring sports and practices).

And yet, the words and phrases at the beginning of this message are timeless, and they will guide us going forward. We will succeed because of a singular commitment to our students. We will succeed because our facilities and grounds staff members continue to make Kent State’s buildings clean and safe, and our campus clean and comfortable. We will succeed because the administrative staff members in our colleges, schools and departments continue to greet our students with smiles and a helpful spirit. We will succeed because our staff in residence and dining services continue to provide a home for those who would be homeless otherwise. We will succeed because our IT and Continuing and Distance Education leaders are hard at work making sure that the technologies for remote instruction are in place and up to the new, higher level of demand that will be placed on them. And we will succeed because faculty – the backbone of our campus – are committed to creating meaningful remote course environments that produce real learning.

This is not to say that confusion, mixed messages and anxiety will go away. They will not. Any undertaking of this size is bound to produce lapses in contact, communication and even judgment. We will do our best to respond to all situations as they arise. We ask for empathy and forbearance. Please know that all of us are committed to meeting this challenge.

Finally: Take care of yourselves. Take care of your family and loved ones. Stay safe and healthy. Practice the habits of social distancing and hygiene shown to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Colleagues will take care of colleagues, students will take care of other students, friends will take care of friends, and Flashes (Always) Take Care of Flashes.


Todd Diacon