I hope this message finds you healthy in spirit, mind, and body. Please join me in welcoming a new academic year, with new opportunities and challenges. This fall semester will undoubtedly be different than any before it. As we resume on-campus studies, the campus community seeks to capitalize on lessons learned over the past few months in effort to adapt and innovate for continued success.
As I sat down to write this, I reflected deeply on how COVID-19 has shaped our circumstances over the past six months. At this time of year, I look forward to meeting the new students joining us on campus as we welcome and cheer the start of their academic journey. I also think of returning students, transfer students, and graduate students, all of whom rejoin us to continue their path in higher education. Collectively, these students seek to make the superb transformation that is the cultivation of intellect and knowledge: a tradition we cherish. The honor and privilege to lead these students is a great responsibility that defines and directs the very essence of campus life.
These reflections offer me both pause and focus: our students deserve the absolute best from the College, and that is a responsibility I proudly uphold. With this focus, the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced our commitment to the fundamental aspects of our mission: the connections forged between student and teacher constitutes the greatest value we generate in higher education. Regardless of whether those bonds are established through enhanced digital means or in a classroom setting, our academic mission to foster this connection and community remains paramount. Within this connection lies growth, renewal, and insight.
As we enter this academic year, it is natural that questions will arise concerning the health and safety measures that are being taken in the on-campus environment this fall. Administrators and leaders in the TAMU system, University, and College continue to closely monitor and proactively respond to the COVID-19 crisis as it unfolds. Since my last greeting in this newsletter, the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business administration, faculty, and staff have worked diligently and extensively to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
In classroom spaces, a “Hybrid-Flexible (HyFlex)” approach has been adopted to ensure adjustments to classroom capacity that enforce appropriate social distancing. Throughout our return to campus, students, faculty, and staff will adhere to the University’s guidelines regarding all health and safety measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and the sanitation of spaces. These measures are vital to ensure that learning occurs and education flourishes. We cannot afford to be lax in this area and the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business – students, faculty, and staff – are committed to our collective well-being.
As the Dean of the College, I understand that many in our community continue to face challenges and uncertainty in their academic, professional, and personal lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering this uncertainty, the College will deliver instruction – both on campus and via technology-supported learning – ardently, diligently, and effectively. More than ever, I am comforted by the remarkable efforts of those in the campus and College community to adjust, adapt, and support a healthy and robust environment of learning and growth. Moving forward, the College will prioritize learning and academic growth, with technology support from University IT and guidance from University administration, to keep students and faculty in the College safe and connected.
As overall enrollment in the college inches ever closer to 3,000 students this fall, I am pleased that enrollment has remained strong. To attain and maintain an enrollment of 3,000 students will be a historic achievement for the PVECOB, making ours the first College at West Texas A&M University to achieve this enrollment level. I am particularly grateful to the staff in the graduate and undergraduate business programs, as their hard work has made this enrollment increase possible despite the challenges of the pandemic.
We warmly share this newsletter to remain connected to the community of stakeholders and constituents of the college. Throughout the pandemic, we have all found new ways to maintain contact and communication with each other as these relationships are vital. As such, in May of 2020, the College and University introduced new websites. This is fortuitous as these websites add to the various communication channels that help us remain connected.
While the past last six months have felt like building a ship while at sea, I know that the talents and innovation evident within the outstanding faculty and staff in the College will ensure student success. For instance, I could not be more proud of how our faculty, students, and the WT community handled the mid-semester transition to an online delivery mode in the spring of 2020; converting over 70 face-to-face business courses to online mode within a week’s notice was not easy. While May 2020 graduates did not expect a virtual graduation, everyone helped and handled the situation with grace and understanding. Despite those challenges, our students continued to perform well in their classes and have progressed to secure job opportunities, admissions to graduate school, and otherwise embark on successful post-graduate endeavors. Overall, we have been resilient: our outstanding faculty continue to publish research; staff are giving 150% effort to provide strength and continuity for our students; and, our support network – alumni, friends of the College, and benefactors – continue to bolster the College to sustain its legacy and accomplishment.
Regardless of the instructional mode our students select this fall, WTAMU is committed to a safe and productive academic environment: learning will happen, relationships will be formed, ideas and thoughts will be developed, shared, and challenged. As much as this fall semester will be different, in ways both known and unknown, it will also be familiar as our commitment to students has not changed. Regrettably, as was the case in the spring and for the time being, most face-to-face College events outside of HyFlex classroom instruction may be postponed. Regardless of such setbacks, I remain optimistic and hopeful as the measures in place to protect our students, faculty, and staff make it possible to empower the dreams, aspirations, and hopes embedded in each student’s story as they pursue their academic journey.
Thank you for your support of the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business, and its endeavors. Go, Buffs!
With kind regards,
Dean, and CIS Professor
Paul and Virginal Engler College of Business.
If you have a story that you would like to be considered for future newsletters, contact Lynsee Bjork.