Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Toward Familiar Ground – July 23, 2021
July 23, 2021
Years ago, while on vacation in Mexico, I visited Mayan ruins and had opportunity to climb one of the ancient pyramids. I remember the thrill of the climb and couldn’t wait to get to the top. And then I did. Amidst the exhilarating views atop this stunning peak, I was suddenly gripped with fear and froze as I realized how high I’d climbed, imagined the possibility of a fall, and wondered how I could safely get down. I couldn’t move in any direction, and I didn’t know what to do. When I think back, I can still feel that experience. Luckily another climber recognized that I was not ready to take the first step down the pyramid and immediately helped me refocus, get back in control, and climb down – slowly, step by step to familiar ground.
Hearing your feelings, anxiety, and fear about returning to our campuses reminded me of this experience. After the tremendous hustle of the past 16 months to keep our doors open virtually to high quality teaching and learning, we suddenly have a very different view of what it means to serve our mission. The Pandemic Response Team hears you asking how we can safely return to the cadence of the work our students need us to do in mixed on-campus and virtual environments one step at a time. PRT greatly appreciates your candid responses and is using your input to improve our plans for returning to worksites this summer and fall. We are aware of the wide range of experiences and expectations that converge at the college, not the least of which come from students who desperately want to improve their lives and provide better outcomes for themselves and their families but share the same fears for health and safety as others have expressed.
You continually show your commitment to your work, the college, and especially our students and understand how important it is for us to be present and to bring our best selves to all that we do to serve our community. We are Viking Strong and we will work together to continue to provide high quality teaching and learning and a safe work experience for all. Here’s an article that discusses how college campuses are so much more than just physical spaces. Read, enjoy, and keep letting us know your thoughts and hopes for how best to fulfill our transformational mission.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles