I have never been so proud of our Huskies community. When we began the spring semester in January, we did so with enthusiasm for new classes, opportunities and a vision for what it means to be a regional comprehensive university going forward. In fact, in the fall/winter edition of this magazine, I wrote of this enthusiasm and changes on the horizon: “It’s time to take proactive steps to boldly alter the way we operate to better serve this new generation of students.”
Little did we know that COVID-19 would dramatically alter the way we operate, at an unimaginable speed – but because we had laid the groundwork for reimagining St. Cloud State University we were ready to respond. For example:
»» As we begin to expand our reach beyond Central Minnesota, we knew online learning would be an increasingly important component of our future in the years to come; we hadn’t fathomed that this March we’d move more than 2,000 classes and labs online.Yet that’s exactly what we did to best serve students – a Herculean effort made possible by our committed professors and students.
»» We knew meeting students where they are at in their educational journey would be vital in the years ahead, whether they’re a first-generation college student, a working parent pursuing their degree part-time, a professional switching careers and seeking further training, or more. This value came into sharp focus in the early days of COVID-19, when we launched a 24/7 hotline to answer questions and help connect students to services, reached out one by one to students to ensure they had the technology they’d need to continue learning from home, held 10 virtual town halls to further connect with students, parents, faculty and staff, and automatically renewed scholarships for the upcoming academic year. The ways we connect and learn changed in a matter of days, and these new platforms and methods will be helpful tools long after this pandemic is over.
»» We knew Huskies want to apply their education to their communities and the world at large. At every turn this spring, I have been deeply impressed by the lengths our campus community has gone to help one another and put our resources to use for the larger community. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, fundraisers came together for our Student Emergency Fund and Huskies Food Pantry, our Husky Make It Space churned out face shields for medical workers, our Costume Studio put their sewing machines to use for volunteers making cloth face masks, our Huskies Coaches program launched months ahead of schedule to help coach students through this time of transition, we partnered with Stearns County to plan ahead for use of our facilities if need be during this crisis, and countless other stories of kindness and community emerged that make me proud to be a Husky.
We have adapted quickly, and we have learned so much along the way that will only help us be a stronger institution in the future and even better equipped to serve our students. While video calls and Facebook Live updates may be with us to stay, I also look forward to the day when our community can be together in person to reflect on what this time has meant to us and how it has honed our focus on what’s next.
I want you to know that our future is not on hold because of the pandemic. We continue to transform St. Cloud State to the new regional comprehensive university. To our alumni, community partners, students and parents: We want to hear from you now more than ever during these months of ongoing transitions, to ensure we’re doing what we can to help students and the community at large.
Please send me a note at email@example.com.
In the midst of COVID-19, I have never been prouder to be a Husky.
President, St. Cloud State University