At Louisiana Tech University, we recognize that education and the industry of learning is changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Educators and institutions across the country are being challenged to reframe the way we serve students, the way we assess and deliver learning, and the way we conduct general operations. Our classrooms are empty shells that once housed seats full of bright minds, and the halls once bustling with the movement of students are now quiet corridors, but we have not changed our central mission – to improve the lives of others through the transformational power of higher education.
We continue to believe that the residential college model, with many opportunities for face-to-face interaction in and out of the classroom, for which Tech has been known is expected to be as important as ever for many students. Our work adapting tools and technology this quarter will continue to enhance our face-to-face and on-line experiences in the future.
The new dynamic of “stay at home” is not unique to colleges; we see changing tides at all levels of education and in all industries. Parents of school-age children are finding new expectations related to their role of rearing their children – at least until schools can return to some semblance of normalcy. Businesses are closing their doors to regular foot traffic. Social gatherings and sporting events are halted. Healthcare professionals are feeling the strain from fighting on the frontline of the pandemic. The disruptions to daily norms are undeniable.
Will daily activities across the nation return to business as usual post-COVID, or has the shared experience of reacting to a global pandemic forever changed social and economic rhythms? What changes related to the future of work and the future of education will remain?
While these realities challenge the deep-rooted essence of what it means to go to school, Louisiana Tech is rising to the challenge. We will continue to innovate so that our students can continue to feed their minds, pursue their goals, and remain connected in a physically disconnected world.
Since March 13 when we made the announcement that we would move the current quarter’s classes online, our institution has logged thousands of hours of virtual meetings and classes. We have offered educational, financial, physical, and emotional support to our students, faculty, and staff through targeted initiatives that protect our physical and mental wellness while promoting a sense of University community. We have rescheduled commencement and planned a series of celebrations for our Spring 2020 graduates – all in response to their requests.
We are not done yet. The upcoming Summer quarter at Louisiana Tech is a shining example of continued nimbleness in uncertain times.
To ensure our students – current and future – are able to make progress toward their educational goals, we have moved Summer classes to the online format so that students can continue to study from home.
Many courses will be offered this Summer as a program entry point so individuals who need to begin to retool or reskill for employment in the changing economy can begin their chosen programs quickly. We are offering financial incentives to attending Tech in the Summer to include waived application fees, scholarships for every full-time and part-time student, and removal of online learning fees. Admission criteria are being altered, and practical course pathways are being designed for students so they can see their roadmap to program completion. Our adaptation to new technology and our development of on-line certificates will enhance opportunities for non-traditional students to respond to changing requirements in the post-COVID economy.
It might not be clear what long-standing impacts our economy and the future of work will face when the pandemic subsides, but it is clear that nimble organizations will be ready to respond.
Educational institutions like Louisiana Tech will have to be ready to come alongside students and industry to build relevant and responsive programs. At Tech we expect to have our classrooms full of bright minds again soon and to be able to hear the bustling in the hallways.
Until then, the Tech Family will find opportunities to learn and grow. We respond positively and appropriately to the demands placed on our industry, and we will continue to deliver unparalleled educational experiences to every one of our students.
Dr. Les Guice | President of Louisiana Tech University.