How COVID-19 is reshaping opportunities for UVU students

Students walk across campus between classes at Utah Valley University in Orem on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 201., | Steve Griffin, Deseret News

President Astrid S. Tuminez discusses Utah Valley University’s adjustments to COVID-19 and the path forward.

It was mid-March and the 2020 Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament in Las Vegas had started. The UVU women’s team played against Seattle University and lost, 61-48. I was disappointed, then baffled when I heard all other games that evening had been called off. The next day, the WAC board discussed the accelerating COVID-19 crisis and canceled the rest of the tournament. The pandemic was upon us.

How could minuscule viral particles lead to such immense consequences? In a matter of days, I went through five stages of pandemic grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As reality sunk in, I realized that my team and I had to step up to a new level of leadership. What have we learned?

Agility and iteration. In two weeks, UVU moved over 4,000 course sections to a remote format. This required using digital resources on an unprecedented scale. Faculty and administration worked together closely to offer high-quality education while meeting health recommendations. We established a central system for feedback, received hundreds of complaints at the beginning, iterated, improved and, ultimately, helped most of our students complete the semester. United around the common purpose of teaching and learning, we became more agile and flexible in new uses of technology.

Communication. COVID-19 created doubt, fear and anxiety. Students, staff and faculty had to learn new ways of working. Unhelpful chatter sometimes occurred. We learned that frequent, clear, and caring communication was essential. We implemented a disciplined flow chart for drafters, editors, subject matter experts and decision-makers. Starting in mid-March, my cabinet met daily, and then every other day from June. We …read more

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