MOUNT PLESANT — CMU’s president Bob Davies, and his staff knew last summer that they needed a plan for the fall semester, and one that was very, very flexible.
"To provide an in-person environment for students, because we knew that that is the way that they learned the best, and that is the platform. That will give the best opportunity for their academic success. And so, we set forward a game plan, a strategy that included a lot of contingency plans."
Part of those plans included starting the semester two weeks early in order to avoid what medical experts were predicting as a possible second or third wave of coronavirus; which worked out quite well, as they ended fall classes right before thanksgiving.another big part is what they call their high flex model. “The high flex model, really densified the classroom, only about one third of the capacity of the classrooms are needed to be used, and students can attend in person, or they can attend a lecture through a live streaming and interactive platform. So, even if they were online they were able to interact with the faculty member, and as well as their classmates."
While president davies was leading the students' educations, newly hired, athletic director, Amy Folan was trying to navigate the university's sports programs, which took a hit back in May by cutting the men's indoor and outdoor track and field programs.
"Yeah, anytime you lose a program that is devastating, and everybody the “student athlete experience and transforming lives is what we're all about. But right now, we're still in this pandemic. So, what we are trying to do is just make sure that we stay the course, that we study everything. And we will continue to look through how we get through this and how we come out on the better side.” "With our teams not having to postpone or cancel and, you know, really proud of them for that. And honestly, our staffs been great. Everybody just can focus on what they control, they do the best within what they can control to adhere to all the guidelines and be proactive and manage the pandemic, “ Folan continued.
She believes the university has handled its first semester quite well, and she points to the school's leadership for that.
"President Davies and my peers in the cabinet have good plans. But I think everybody's very collaborative, we over communicate, and we're all flexible to rise to any challenge or nuance that shows up. as everybody else dealing with this, you learn something new every day."
President Davies expects to use the same, flexible, game plan when the students return next semester.
"It's a story about a university, having a goal of providing a successful foundation for our students. And everyone coming together in rally around that point. And that's what we were able to do here.”
There is one change to the upcoming semester: no spring break. Instead, students will have a series of "wellness days" which begins in January. Classes resume online on January 11.