Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

President’s Message: Campuses proving adaptable in unprecedented times

August 30, 2020

Aaron Thompson

Dear Friends,

This month's newsletter features an interview with Colby Birkes, CPE's new student representative. COVID-19 upended Colby's senior year at Morehead State University. When instruction moved online, his friends scattered. He didn't get to experience his final spring break or walk across the stage to receive his diploma.

But a few months later, this remarkable young man has managed to move past his losses and focus on his gains. He credits the virus with making him more resilient, better able to persevere through adversity.

I've been thinking a lot about how COVID-19 is forcing our higher education communities to become more resilient. No one was prepared for the abrupt shift to online instruction in the spring. But already, students and institutions are proving themselves remarkably adaptable and resourceful in the ways they're making it work while keeping people safe.

Administrators are considering more sustainable funding models and new revenue streams to avoid unmanageable tuition increases for students and families, many of whom are now unemployed. They are beginning to tap into underserved markets.

Faculty are becoming more adept at blending synchronous and asynchronous instruction and using technology to build community. In academic speak, they are moving from sage on the stage to guide on the side.

Institutions are grappling with systemic inequities that place additional challenges on low-income and minority students. COVID-19 has laid bare how housing and food insecurity and substandard Internet access make it more difficult to learn. We are working harder to level the playing field.

Despite the disappointment of a socially distanced semester, students are making the most of it. They're finding new ways to build relationships and navigate their new normal.

If there's a silver lining to this pandemic, it's that institutions and individuals are becoming more resilient. That's a trait that will help us survive the current crisis and thrive in an increasingly unpredictable world.

Thompson signature
Aaron Thompson, Ph.D.

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Last Updated: 7/26/2021