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Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journals | PACE UNIVERSITY

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Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journals featured President Marvin Krislov's piece "The college experience has turned into something entirely different"

05/04/2020

Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journals featured President Marvin Krislov's piece "The college experience has turned into something entirely different"

Over a week or two in the middle of March, everything about the way we run Pace University changed. First we shifted to remote learning, as it became clear that it wasn’t safe to gather in lecture halls and seminar rooms. Next we asked our employees to work from home, once we knew that commuting wasn’t a good idea. Finally, we moved most students out of their residence halls, as it became clear that our remote period would last through the rest of the semester and Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted the New York State on PAUSE order.

Across the state and the country, everyone has had to reorient how they live and work. The shift was a big adjustment for our students, for our faculty, and for our staff. It has been a big change for me, too.

But I’ve also come to realize just how much hasn’t changed.

I’m running the University via phone calls and videoconferences. I’m teaching an undergraduate course on public education via Zoom meetings. I’m figuring out how and when to safely go grocery shopping, and I’m pleased to report that my daughter, a college sophomore now continuing her own education remotely, and I are doing surprisingly good job of staying out of each other’s way as we spend our days working from different corners of home. Our faculty, staff, and students—and others across Westchester—are dealing with these same challenges, and with many others. People are dealing with work, with families, with health and wellness, with keeping households together.

What’s not at all different for so many of us are our values. It’s critically important to all of us at Pace that our students stay current in their coursework and on track toward their planned graduation. We’re working together, supporting each other, and helping our students to succeed. We’ll be using the summer to come up with even more innovative ways to educate our students, however that education is delivered. Pace has always been a community of hardworking, ambitious doers and strivers, and we’re still showing that same perseverance and dedication, just in different ways.

In fact, what I’ve found most remarkable about all this change is how well it has gone. There have been some speed bumps along the way, of course. I’m certainly not the only faculty member who took a little while to interacting with my via little boxes on a screen rather than as people sitting around a table. I know students miss their friends and miss in-person interaction with their professors. But the fundamentals remain in place. Our faculty and staff remain dedicated to our students’ success, and are students remain hardworking, optimistic, and determined to succeed.

Our IT department is reporting that nearly 2,000 videoconferences are happening across the University each day, for lectures and counseling and tutoring and meetings. We’re seeing connections from more than 75 countries around the world, as students, faculty, and staff continue their work from wherever they are—and continue to meet and collaborate with global partners. We’re running  virtual social events to keep students connected to one another, and we’re providing support for our faculty and staff, both the kind that helps them do their jobs and the kind that helps them stay calm, happy, focused, and grounded.

The technology we have available today—combined with the resilience we’ve always displayed—is what lets us keep doing our work so effectively. Perhaps for the first time, I’m telling parents to encourage their students to keep their heads buried in their computers or their phones. It’s how we’ll all keep learning, keep connecting, avoid loneliness. It’s why we’re creating programming to keep everyone connected even as we’re separated. And it’s how all of us will stay strong.

I can’t pretend to know precisely what’s going to happen over the next few months. But I do know that our students will remain on their educational paths—and ultimately see themselves enriched and strengthened by the experience of the extraordinary times we’re living through.

Read the full Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journals article, scroll to pg16.