From the President's Desk: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Jan 12, 2021 9:40 AM

Hello Bobcats,

We may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel — although we still have a good distance to travel to reach that point. I hope you are proud of the efforts of the Bobcat community. While we were able to help many students who wanted to study entirely online find a workable schedule, our faculty and staff worked diligently to help as many students as possible have some level of an on-campus experience, unlike many other institutions.

We know that many of our students did not have access to the necessary technology, bandwidth or home environment that would help them succeed fully online. Our efforts to keep the campus open truly benefited them. It was personally rewarding when I shopped at Martin’s or Lowe’s and students came up to me and said thank you for those efforts. To our alums, faculty and staff who made that a reality through your efforts or financial contributions, I want to share that “thank you” with you.

We’re going to start the spring semester the way we did the fall with campus open at a reduced social density, which includes singles-only in residence halls, a blended online/in-person classroom format and many more virtual events and meetings. We had no documented cases of the virus being transmitted in the classroom, labs, meeting rooms, library or dining halls. We will continue to work toward maintaining as safe a campus environment as possible, which will include comprehensive testing for the virus on campus.

We continue to work with the University System of Maryland and local health officials to follow the best science and guidelines. We have also offered to be a point of distribution for vaccines for this region. All these efforts speak to the dedication you know to be a trademark of Frostburg State.

What’s beyond COVID, beyond the tunnel?

  • First, we are several months into construction on the new Education and Health Sciences building. It is still on track to open in 2022.

  • Second, our University Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has come forward with recommendations that are being implemented. We now have online mandatory diversity education and training for new employees and are finalizing an education program for continuing staff and faculty. And thanks to the generosity of Sandy Wyche Adams '86 & Tyrone Adams '87, we will soon begin work on renovating the Lincoln School (the former police station) into a multicultural center on campus. Our values in support of a socially just society require us to continue our actions.

  • Third, we are making some significant strides in our commitment to regional development. Two companies have moved into our research park, one in biotech and the other in computing services. Both are interested in long-term relationships with FSU, including offering student internships. Discussions continue with other companies to locate here. We also signed a letter of intent to pursue a Challenger Learning Center for Frostburg State University. Improving science education for K-12 students must be a priority for our region, offering this experience to students within an hour’s drive. What better way to reinforce our commitment to our original mission of teacher preparation!

  • Fourth, I am pleased to report that applications for next year are up. As of the beginning of January, we had more than 2,200 completed applications, a 61 percent increase over last year. Acceptances and deposits are running ahead of last year as well. The task in front of us now is to assure accepted students that Frostburg State University is their ultimate choice. We are also beginning the discussions regarding what academic support we need to provide next year’s class because of this year of COVID-related disruption.

  • Fifth, we are reintroducing intercollegiate athletics after months of disruption. While we are in our second year of probationary membership in Division II, we have been fully accepted and embraced by our conference, the Mountain East. FSU and the conference are carefully following NCAA guidelines as competition begins. I can share that from a virtual meeting with student-athletes before the holidays that they are anxious to perform not only in the classroom but also in the athletic environment.

  • Lastly, the COVID crisis is going to have a long-term impact on higher education overall. Given that we are halfway through our five-year strategic plan, I am going to reconvene our Strategic Planning Task Force to take a midterm look at our strategic plan and outcomes to determine what updates we need because of the changing environment.

As you can tell, much is happening. We are dealing with immediate issues while looking forward to the role Frostburg State will play in our changing future.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions and please remain safe.