Leaping to cover the distance

Today, the spirit of PSU looks like a dance instructor doing a curricular pirouette to bring her ballet class to students’ home computers.

It looks like a math professor redesigning his course on the fly so students can visualize COVID-19 information and viral genome data.

It looks like the College of Education launching a six-week series to help parents cope with teaching their own children at home.

It looks like the Speech & Hearing clinic pivoting from in-person internships to telepractice to ensure students finish their master’s programs on time.

It looks like creativity, flexibility, resilience, and service.

In the days leading up to the start of the Spring term, PSU faculty converted roughly 3,500 sections from face-to-face instruction to the remote format. It was a heroic effort, aided by an impressive assortment of resources developed by OAI.

Behind every successful class are faculty and staff who are stepping up to this new reality with energy and determination.

Yet it’s a gut-wrenching time for educators of all levels who are witnessing so many inequities laid bare by this crisis. We were reminded of this by Oregon’s Teacher of the Year, PSU alumna Mercedes Muñoz, who wrote in a recent Facebook post:

“Tell me, does hanging out on a zoom call with your family feel the same as bantering over the dinner table? Does your heart fill up in the same ways? I can assure you it does not. Likewise, our teaching practices are intimate …

“See, in a learning community, I am the equalizer … My job is, in fact, to both cover the distance and dismantle it.

“In these uncertain times, the well of my compassion has not run dry. But my tolerance for educational inequities has. I have not yet learned how to seal up the cracks on a computer screen but every day I am trying.”

To the PSU faculty and staff: I see you – leaping to cover the distance and wielding the knowledge that will dismantle it. And I am so honored to work by your side.

Author: President Stephen Percy

Hi, and thank you for visiting! I have led Portland State University since May 2019. Before that, I served as dean of PSU's College of Urban & Public Affairs.

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