April 6, 2020
Dear Members of the Kent State University Community,
His recent passing brought to mind the Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’s hit from my teenage years, "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)". I watched a performance online, and then it struck me – in the push to deal with myriad pressing matters, and with the pressure to make as many weighty decisions in a week as we usually would in a year, I had not checked in to see what condition … people were in. Oh sure, we have been meeting since the onset of social distancing as each day is filled with multiple phone and video conferences. But how were people coping? How were they doing at home and with their families?
To this end, we added a standing, opening item to the agenda for cabinet meetings: Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. This helps us remember to check in with each other. And in doing so, we learn that we are facing, we all are facing, the pressures of meeting the professional challenges generated by COVID-19, even while meeting the personal and family challenges generated by the pandemic. In normal times, we would call this work-life balance. During this crisis, we can probably call it surviving.
And the stories we hear are uplifting, sad, comforting and poignant. We are facing the challenges of remote work while taking care of young children. This can be reaffirming, as when watching one’s 3-year-old granddaughter waking up each day without a care in the world and ready to take in the new day. This can be worrisome, as when a child’s chronic health issue flares up. And then there is the constant worry and angst of the unknown confronted by those among us with parents and grandparents in long-term care facilities. We hear comforting reports of adult children who are doing well, and who, in many cases have come home to shelter in place with family (and of course, many are trying to keep up with all relatives who are not close by).
Each of you, no doubt, has your own way of checking in to see what condition people are in. As a way to do this virtually with our university community, I am featuring pictures of faculty, staff and students working and studying remotely on my Instagram. Soon we’ll add photos of our amazing employees who continue to work on campus providing required in-person services, particularly for our students who remain in our residence halls. Visit my Instagram account @ksupresdiacon to see these images and more, sharing the great work that continues every day at Kent State.
We’ll get through this because you are resilient and because Flashes Take Care of Flashes. Stay safe out there. Take care of yourselves and practice social distancing. Keep on working, studying, teaching and learning, which we are all doing as a community. And most of all, keep checking in on each other.