From the President’s Desk: A Most Unusual Semester

Aug 31, 2020 9:00 AM

Our fall 2020 semester is under way. This is indeed a very unusual semester, starting two weeks early and ending at Thanksgiving break. Approximately 30 percent of fall class offerings are entirely online. The remaining 70 percent are all “blended” classes in which faculty have restructured instruction to increase online elements and lessen in-person class time. Faculty also received training and resources to better adapt the content and structure of their classes to online settings. Additionally, we worked with hundreds of students and employees concerned about returning to campus and found ways they could pursue their educations and their livelihoods online for the time being. 

The entire campus has been reconfigured to lessen risk, with classroom capacities cut in half or more; on-campus housing limited to only single occupancy per bedroom; services, such as the billing office, the University Store and food sales, have prominent floor decals, signage and barriers in place to ensure social distancing; and a whole host of other changes. Face masks are required any time someone else is around, but we can still see eyes smiling above them, as Bobcats greet one another after a long absence from campus. 

Universal COVID-19 testing of students, faculty and staff occurred in the weeks before we started, and surveillance testing will continue throughout the semester. All people coming to campus on any day monitor and report their symptoms. 

Coronavirus prevention is top of mind, yet we are grateful that our educational mission can go on. 

And we held two important events in the first weeks of the semester: We dedicated the Brownsville/Park Avenue Monument, located in the Upper Quad of campus, commemorating the largely African American community that was displaced as the campus grew between the 1920s and 1960s. And we broke ground for our new Education and Health Sciences Center, which is scheduled to open in 2022. 

These two events truly represent Frostburg State University — one seeking to begin healing and build knowledge, exploring the complex path of addressing past wrongs, and another by starting to build a valuable and tangible facility for future healers and educators to meet the challenges of this and future generations.

As we work our way through the difficult months of 2020, we know we have many challenges ahead of us. It is my hope that we will address these challenges together and emerge even stronger.