Year in Review Feature: How the Campus Adapted

Students and staff recount some of the people who took a good, brave, and ready approach to the pandemic, keeping spirits lifted and helping learning to continue.

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Although the shift in mid-March happened quickly, College staff and faculty graciously stepped up to the challenges of offering courses remotely. Professors reworked their in-person courses for delivery online while students worked to stay focused and connected as many returned to live with their families across the country.

Kaitlyn Simon (JCS ’22) said, “Professors have communicated well, encouraged us, and given us grace with the transition to online learning. I still felt like I learned a lot and did well overall the second half of the spring semester.”

Hope Villandre (PPE ’21) specifically praised Dr. Joseph Griffith, assistant professor of politics, for the way he adapted in the spring. “His lessons were focused, effective, and fun. Every day of his class, I could tell that he cared deeply about his students: not just that we scored high on tests, but also that we were doing alright during this unprecedented time.

“He created PowerPoint slides to go with each lecture in case our audio dropped so we could better follow along; he incorporated the occasional YouTube video to help us visualize what we were learning. He went the extra mile to ensure the best possible experience for his students. I loved being in his class both in person and online.”

Staff also contributed extra effort and creativity to keep students safe while maintaining a high quality of education. A WORLD Magazine article published on March 17, 2020, quoted President Tim Gibson and reported on how the College adapted its inclement weather emergency plan to fit the unique challenges of the coronavirus situation. Because of the emergency operations team’s planning, King’s senior leadership was able to make informed decisions quickly before COVID-19 case counts accelerated in New York City.

Staff members shared how they saw colleagues maintain a spirit of service during a demanding season. Director of Information Technology Bracey Fuenzalida said of Paul Middlekauff, the registrar, “Paul has gone out of his way to make the transition from our traditional format to online. The man is available at many hours of the evening and is always willing and ready to help with inquiries that come his way. He does this with a willing spirit and a lot of gentleness.”

Of Provost Dr. Mark Hijleh, Educational Ventures Administrator Brittin Ward said, “Mark has been an excellent leader this whole year. The last few months especially, Mark has handled the COVID-19 changes with swiftness and keen perception.”

As the College faced weighty decisions concerning a virus that the world’s scientists do not yet fully understand, staff stayed in regular communication with other schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and with members of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. Megan Dishman, AVP of Marketing and Communications has served throughout this season as Incident Commander of the emergency operations team. Chief Development Officer Bridget Rogers said of Dishman, “Megan must have worked hundreds of additional hours in March 2020 as the College communicated with various stakeholders about the implications of COVID-19.”

The College continued remote operations and teaching through the end of the spring semester. To support the community in following New York state quarantine rules, the fall 2020 semester began online on September 3 and students attended their first in person classes of the semester on September 14.

This story is a feature from the 2020 issue of Year in Review. The full magazine is available here.

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