A Message from CCAPS Dean Bob Stine

On New Year’s Day there were many references to 20/20 vision and having a clear picture of the year ahead. With few warning signs at the time, no one could have predicted the pandemic that would engulf the world and impact our daily lives. Yet here we are, successfully graduating students, offering high-quality online courses of all kinds, and continuing to inspire and serve learners in all stages of life. 

To backtrack a little, as the potential of the pandemic became better understood by mid-March, we learned that students would not be returning to campus after spring break. Many of our courses were already fully online and could continue without interruption. Others were being taught in the classroom, and within about a week we needed to have them ready to be taught, and taken, remotely. I can’t say enough about the speed and thoughtfulness with which our faculty and academic technology team made that happen. Nor can I say enough about the adaptability our students demonstrated to a new way of learning. We are well underway with a fully online summer term, and we’ll be prepared for whatever fall semester brings!

Our 2020 commencement ceremony was planned for May 9, but of course it was canceled. Instead, our students experienced a first-ever systemwide virtual ceremony on May 16—something I hope they cherish for the rest of their lives. As CCAPS student commencement speaker Riley Boedigheimer pointed out, "Everyone in this graduating class now has a very unique situation that helps to define their experience. And no one can take that away from them. As hard as this might be, I believe this will make people stronger, better than before." Reading the stories of students who are graduating this spring, I'm filled with hope and am excited to see what they go out and do in the world. 

What lies ahead? The health and safety of everyone on campus remains our number one priority. President Gabel and other university leaders are developing a “Sunrise Plan” that will allow a phased approach for employees and students to return to campus in the future. All summer courses for degree-seeking and professional development students are being offered online, and we are committed to making sure they have a quality learning experience. We are also waiting on a decision from President Gabel about what fall semester will look like (and of course we’re hoping for the best!).

As we have all been going through this together, many of us have said or heard “things will not be the same when this is over.” In speaking with friends and family, some approaching 100 years of living, I’ve realized that things are never the same. While we may long for “normal,” normal is always changing, and we change right along with it. For example, many of us have learned new technologies, or started walking more, or have taken more time to connect with others. Hopefully we will remember to carry these positives forward and they will become part of our “next” normal. 

And of course that is what CCAPS is all about, helping our community continue to learn and adapt throughout life, regardless of the circumstances. I encourage you to read the stories in this newsletter and others you can find on the website. You will quickly be inspired!

I'm grateful for all of you, and the many ways in which you contribute to a better and more resilient world. Thank you!