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Columbus State University

June 23rd, 2020 - Message from President Markwood

Good afternoon,

Over these last several months dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, I have often been reminded of that old combat adage, “War is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” Our battle with the virus and our long march back to campus shares a similar duality: incredible feats of coordinated creative problem solving bursting forth from the hearts and minds of hundreds of separate, solitary, social-distanced Cougars. We have accomplished so much together, despite our responsibility to remain apart; and in the chaos and quiet of our quarantined endeavors, I sometimes must remind myself to pause, to be still and realize the magnitude of our accomplishments, to take stock of how far we’ve come and to brace for the next leg of our return.

I had one such moment yesterday when I met with the Turner College of Business, and again today when I met with the College of Letters and Sciences. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces. It was powerful to engage with you, and I look forward to meeting with each college as the week progresses. Engagement is the linchpin that holds all of our Core Values together. Without the ability to communicate with one another, to exchange ideas and actively participate in civil debate, we would be unable to achieve excellence; to cultivate creativity; to champion inclusivity, promote sustainability, and become Servant Leaders on campus, in our community, and of the world.

As we prepare for the next phase in returning to campus and the systemwide goal of face-to-face classes in the fall, I know you have many questions. While we have compiled answers to some of the more common questions in our previous communications, I promise to continue sharing updates as we acquire new information and to address the numerous challenges facing us as fall semester approaches.

The return to campus plan we have provided offers general recommendations for social distancing in classroom layouts, and hallway, stairwell, and elevator usage, but stops short of dictating specific prescriptions for classroom layouts or content delivery methods. This is because we understand that a one-size-fits-all approach will not be 100% effective, and some decisions will need to be made by evaluating teaching environments on a case-by-case basis. We need your ideas on how to accomplish this work and look forward to working with you on creative solutions over the next month or so. As long as we stay engaged with one another, there is no issue too big to overcome, no obstacle too unwieldy to handle, and no problem that can’t be solved, if we tackle it together.

Please bookmark this link to our plan: https://www.columbusstate.edu/covid-response/. We want to ensure that you understand the general guidelines and have what you need — whether resources or information — to apply these guidelines to your individual workstations, classrooms, or office spaces. I encourage faculty to begin the work of applying these guidelines with their department chairs to ensure that we continue providing the high-quality education our students have come to expect from us.

Though we have a written plan today, be prepared for changes. As you know, this situation is very fluid and changes are likely. As we prepare for face-to-face instruction, we also need to be prepared for other scenarios as well.

If you have any ideas, questions, or feedback on the plan as it reads today, please send them to our portal: https://columbusstate.formstack.com/forms/returning_to_campus_ideas_and_questions.

I look forward to meeting with more colleges over the next week, along with Provost Bordelon and members of the Return to Campus Task Force, to address any concerns and answer any additional questions you may have.

Thanks again for all you do for our students, our community, and for each other.

President Chris Markwood