In these extraordinary times I just want to make a few observations on behalf of our school. First of all, I want to thank all the faculty, staff and students of the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science for adapting so well to the changed circumstances wrought by the COVID-19 outbreak. On Sunday evening, March 8th, we all were informed that in-person classes would be cancelled, and that we would have two weeks to shift entirely to online instruction and learning. On Monday, March 23rd, we began that mode of teaching, and all indications so far show that it has been successful.
We take legitimate pride in our student-faculty interaction in the classroom, the laboratory, and in one-on-one research projects. That direct contact has necessarily been diminished by the very nature of online teaching. But I am heartened by the knowledge that so many faculty are taking so much time and effort to design and execute each individual synchronous distance learning session, so that they can offer the optimal educational experience to their students. Equally impressive is the near-total attendance by our students at these sessions, even though the material is archived and available for future reference. Likewise, I want to commend Liz Downey of the dean’s office and the staff in both the Engineering and Computer Science academic departments for continuing to provide outstanding coverage to keep our operations afloat.
I now direct my remarks explicitly to our current students: stay in touch with each other as the semester progresses, and avail yourselves of the opportunity to communicate with your teachers. Our open-door policy extends to Blackboard and Zoom. Remember also how, now more than ever, the Honor Code governs your test-taking. I know that your conscience will guide you on that score, as it must throughout life.
This can be a generation-defining moment in everyone’s lives and we have the opportunity to demonstrate that we are still able to do the right thing during these challenging times. There have already been innumerable stories of acts of thoughtfulness and self-sacrifice emerging from the crisis. We can all play our part, unheralded though it may be. Even something small like dispelling fear in someone’s heart is a most worthwhile act.
We will return to normalcy. We will return to our classrooms and our laboratories and our friends and our colleagues, and we will have grown in stature to the degree we have exhibited kindness to our neighbor in these trying times. In the meantime, I wish you good health during this difficult time. I look forward to seeing you in the near future.