The COVID-19 crisis has challenged us all to adapt, embrace change, and show flexibility. This is as true within our Alfred University community as it is throughout the world. On the personal side, for example, I have been coaching my 88-year-old, homebound mom in Ohio over recent weeks that when her favorite russet potatoes are no longer available for delivery from the local grocery store that yams will have to do.
Our University has undergone a profound transformation over the past three weeks. Social distancing policies that became more stringent as the days passed prompted the suspension of University-sponsored travel and the cancelation of many events; the move to full online instruction; working with our students to retrieve their belongings; and the transition to telecommuting, where all but essential work is done by our faculty and staff from home.
COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct University business. It is evident in our increasing use of the video conference web application Zoom to hold virtual meetings.
On Monday, some members of our Alfred University family took to Zoom to brighten up the day for one of their colleagues. I am certain it brightened up their day as well.
This group of crooners, dubbed the “Dean Team” is made up of Alfred University’s deans: Jay Cerio, Graduate and Continuing Studies and AUNY; Gerar Edizel, School of Art and Design; Gabrielle Gaustad, Inamori School of Engineering; Mark Lewis, College of Business; Dave Toot, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Brian Sullivan, Libraries. On Monday, the group, along with M.T. Sick, our provost’s executive assistant, joined together via Zoom to serenade our provost, Beth Anne Dobie, on her birthday. The chorus was accompanied by candles lit by one of the Dean Team members in honor of the occasion.
It was a simple gesture, but one I am sure will have a lasting impression on all who took part in it. It also demonstrates how even when protocols aimed at promoting our health and well-being call for keeping us apart, we can find a way to be together.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank and applaud all the members of our Alfred University community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—for their resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and steadfast will to win in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. I wrote an essay for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle discussing how institutions of higher education are dealing with COVID-19 and the role Alfred University is playing in our response to it. The essay, “Higher education remains a shining light during difficult time,” is now on the Democrat & Chronicle website and will appear in print this weekend.