I hope this message finds you well during these unprecedented times we’re experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the campus and the way we operate has looked dramatically different these past few months, I want you all to know just how proud I am of our students, faculty and staff for charging ahead and finishing the semester strong, especially our graduating seniors. I am so proud of your accomplishments and resiliency, and I look forward to August when we can, hopefully, celebrate this milestone together.
On March 6, the Friday before Spring Break, we received a message from the provost’s office instructing all faculty members to be prepared to conduct at least one class remotely, if necessary, once students returned March 16. Of course, our students never returned to campus, but this preparation and lesson proved extremely valuable to our university and college.
As our faculty began to prepare for a transition to remote learning, our staff went into overdrive to prepare our students and faculty for this unique situation. Our network services staff quickly assembled all the resources our students and faculty would need to complete the semester remotely, including virtual access to computer labs, critical software programs, teaching equipment and much more. Our online and continuing education staff also proved to be a critical resource for our students and faculty, already having the experience and programs available to assist with remote learning. In conjunction with the Biggio Center, our faculty was armed with all the tools to take on this monumental task.
In addition, our student services staff had the daunting task of tutoring and advising our current students — while also recruiting our new generation of students — all from afar. And they did a wonderful job. Our current numbers show our projected enrollment for the fall semester to be on pace to match last year’s, and I couldn’t be more thrilled, especially with all the uncertainty in the air.
And while the past few months have been filled with extremely distressing news from across the nation and globe, our communications and marketing staff worked tirelessly to ensure that the great things happening in the college continued to be spread far and wide. Our efforts to design, build, test and mass produce devices to convert CPAP machines into emergency ventilators were reported on worldwide, even reaching as far as Africa where a group is ready to evaluate them for use. Moreover, stories of our faculty and staff producing and donating much needed personal protective equipment and conducting ongoing research to identify, track, fight and cure the disease could be found all over. Our staff even unveiled a virtual tour to take Auburn’s campus to our prospective students, and faculty candidates, while campus facilities are closed. And this magazine was produced with the staff working remotely. Amazing!
Indeed, it took a total team effort to face this challenge head-on, but the Auburn Family rallied together to make it happen. I couldn’t be more proud.
Our new normal may look different, for now, but our vision and mission remain the same: to be the best student-centered engineering experience in America!
Christopher B. Roberts