Cacophony of thanks
Anne Crecelius ’07, associate professor of health and sport science, was initially startled to hear “a cacophony of thanks” from students when she finished a class over Zoom.
“That doesn’t happen in the classroom,” she said with a laugh at the virtual meeting of the University of Dayton board of trustees in October.
Reflecting on what it’s like to live and learn at the University of Dayton during a pandemic, Drew Moyer, a junior communication management major, said these times have renewed his appreciation for UD’s tight-knit community.
“I’ve never felt more cared about than here,” he told trustees. “If I had the opportunity to go to the beach for two weeks or come here and be with my friends, I’d come here. The atmosphere is unmatched. … With intentionality, we’re creating deeper and stronger connections in our community.”
Much has changed on UD’s campus this fall as the University put in safety measures and restrictions to lessen the risk of COVID-19 spread, but “the fundamental core of who we are — a community who supports one another, who transforms for the times, who shows resilience — is helping us ride out the pandemic,” said Eric F. Spina, president.
“Listening to faculty and students tell trustees about their changed lives in and outside the classroom, I felt buoyed by their words — and grateful for their flexibility and creativity,” he said.
The trustees felt that way, too, and later in the meeting adopted a historic resolution of gratitude.
“Still, these times have not been easy,” Spina conceded. “I don’t want to gloss over the struggles faculty have faced developing hybrid classes or the sacrifices students have made by giving up cherished parts of the traditional college experience, such as study-abroad and immersion trips.”
During the board of trustees’ session, faculty said they missed the casual run-ins with their colleagues in the hallways between classes. While students can hang out with roommates on their front porches, take long bike rides, and work out at the rec, they said they yearn for the days of sharing coffee with friends at The Blend, playing intramurals or walking into full classrooms where the presence of more students leads to more robust discussions.
Still, they’re engaged and are actively seeking out their professors for advice and mentorship. For some faculty, the hybrid teaching model is leading to closer interactions.
“It’s very rare to be stood up on Zoom.”
“There’s a 50-50 shot of students showing up for office hours,” Lee Dixon, chair of the department of psychology, told the board. “If I send a Zoom invitation, students tend to show up. It’s very rare to be stood up on Zoom.”
After the board of trustees meeting, Spina said he thought about “what these times are teaching us, particularly our students, who are developing a servant’s heart and learning what it means to lead by example. Long after the pandemic ends,” he said, “the lessons they’re learning today will carry them throughout their lives.”
It’s what educators call teachable moments.
“I protect you. You protect me.”
Student Drew Moyer has distilled that to a simple mantra, “I protect you. You protect me.” As a neighborhood fellow, he’s on the forefront of encouraging classmates to socially distance and wear masks.
For Annie Philbin, a senior marketing major, it’s about developing patience and a positive mindset. “We’re learning how to be flexible and adaptable during these times. We have to remember that the virus is bigger than us.
“We have to work for the greater good.”