Go Gophers − Six Feet Close!
What a difference a single event can make! No one could have imagined the impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on our industry, our education, and most importantly, our lives and those of our loved ones. Indeed, as a lover of history, I can point to a well-known precedent for pandemics, even in my lifetime, but none quite to the scale we have witnessed since March 2020, save perhaps the great pandemic of 100 years ago.
Having experienced the late ’60s and ’70s, I knew it was merely a matter of time before the issues of race bubbled back up—again from a historical perspective. But little did we know that Minneapolis would be at the epicenter of the global outcry, that agonized voice of George Floyd now resonating worldwide into a call for change while also a fuse for social divisiveness.
We are living a historical moment, one that will define our future history. I always look for silver linings in situations like these.
Academically, the College of Continuing and Professional Studies was well prepared for the pandemic, much more so than many of our peer colleges, pivoting to an online teaching model instantaneously. Shout-out to Christiane Reilly and her team of Instructional Designers and related technologists. Their foresight and planning enabled us to convert all of our coursework over the past seven years to live meaningfully and robustly in an online format, either as a blended course, a fully online course, or a face-to-face course with a robust course website, geared to solid learning outcomes at the assignment, course, and program levels. It works well, and it transitioned quite well to our new normal this spring.
And of course, our faculty had to turn on a dime as well, with the sudden mandate to teach online. It worked, and worked well, to make sure all students completed their coursework. With being forced into this position, the silver lining—like we discover in all of our workplaces—is that we can teach online. We discover new ways of doing things that would have been a push to accomplish in “normal” times.
And finally, I must deliver a shout-out to my long-time colleague/partner/academic advisor, Megan Seltz, for helping me evolve my own thinking on issues of race, equity, and inclusivity over many years. This now manifests in a better personal understanding of the issues front and center in our lives today. Our program has exceeded the national averages of gender and racial participation in the historically white, male construction industry in our region. I am especially proud of this accomplishment. In the 2019−20 school year there were 28 female students in the program (21.1%) and 21 students of color (15.8%). Further, we have made it a point to introduce the ideas on race and equity in our capstone course, where we have a lively discussion every spring, including this past COVID-limited Zoom engagement.
And perhaps the biggest news of the year, now hidden behind these much larger issues, is obtaining ABET accreditation. ABET is the gold standard for accrediting engineering programs. It has expanded to include Applied and Natural Sciences, allowing both our Construction and Facility Management programs to be accredited by ABET. While we were previously accredited by the ACCE, this is a significant accomplishment because the report from the site visit team last fall was very clean, with only a passing concern that we should be thinking about a succession plan for myself. OK, we’ll do that. But our measurement of outcomes, again by the extraordinary staff support we have, carried the day and was specifically cited by the team. Enormous thanks are due to the entire staff of CCAPS that support this program.
This Annual Report presents an overview of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff, curricula, career development, Advisory Board, and scholarship and development; the accomplishments of our programs and their quality initiatives; and our annual plan.
The highlights of this academic year 2019−20 are (in no particular order of importance):
- Enrollment in the program continues to be very strong, as well as enrollment in classes.
- Fifty-one scholarships awarded, thanks to the effort building our program endowment.
- The Study Abroad program in Costa Rica again did stellar work as an interdisciplinary effort among multiple programs, solving local problems in San Ramon and neighboring Palmares/Santiago.
- Our competition participation in particular, winning the Pursuit Competition with a very strong showing by six Capstone students, led by a woman captain, with four women on the team; an all-woman Quiz Bowl team that made it to the semifinals, and a great collaborative effort in the NAHB national competition.
- The aforementioned reaccreditation of our program by ABET.
Reminder of our Mission Statements
For the College
Providing high-quality continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities for professional development, personal enrichment, career transitions, and academic growth
For the Construction Management Program
Preparing future construction leaders to sustainably manage the built environment
Finally, for all the disruption and change that has been inspired by COVID-19, I am especially Gopher proud of our “tunnel digging crew,” whose efforts will continue to support, influence, and lead our local industry. You are staying six feet apart, or rather close!
A. Peter Hilger, AIA
Faculty Director, Construction Management Program