Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Mission Continuity – April 17
April 17, 2020
This week I had the wonderful experience of hearing our students express themselves in two forums designed for them to engage, ask questions, and to share their thoughts on myriad topics surrounding health and wellness, remote instruction, and other ways our “new normal” is affecting them. Along with members of our Pandemic Response Team (PRT), I heard from honors students, students with disabilities, student parents struggling to keep up with classwork while assisting their children with theirs, among many.
We heard from students who have been directly impacted by coronavirus – who are now caretakers – and students who voiced their fears, their struggles, and their challenges – from food insecurities to joblessness to keeping up with classwork and wondering what their future holds. I assured our students that we hear them, we are here for them, and that we recognize their burden because many among our colleagues are suffering similarly.
These are very challenging times and so much has changed for all of us. What has not changed is our commitment to mission continuity. We are working together to keep our students enrolled and to let them know that they can complete the semester and continue toward their academic goals – even under conditions that no one anticipated.
I appreciate all of you for listening to our students, for assisting them during this challenging time, and for encouraging them to persist. One student commented at today’s forum that the value of a WCC education is priceless, and to him, the greatest thing ever. It’s our responsibility – regardless of modality – to provide outstanding teaching and learning. As each of us continues to adapt and endure, it is also our responsibility to determine how best to provide sound opportunities for our students to succeed.
Many students who participated in the forums voiced concern over their spring semester grades and why we had not instituted a Pass/Fail grade option. Provost Morest and I assured students that this matter is receiving due diligence as we work it through our governance procedures. As we have already witnessed, extraordinary times call us into action – sometimes for exceptional and/or temporary solutions. This issue is no different. Accordingly, during Cabinet next week, we will review the Pass/Fail option as it has evolved knowing that this matter must move to resolution.
In the meantime, please be sure to refer students who may need assistance or tutoring to the resources that are available. The forums this week revealed how many of our students are doing all they can to make it to the finish line – whether it’s the end of the semester or to program completion. It’s our job and our mission to provide the resources they need to help them get there.
As we continue to face challenges – and overcome them – I share a poem by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. The Miracle of Morning (CBS This Morning, April 17, 2020).
Dr. Belinda S. Miles