The challenge will continue

Keeny Hall on the campus of Louisiana Tech University. | File Photo

COVID-19 forces more classes online

Dr. Les Guice

Just about a month ago – Feb. 28, to be exact – Louisiana Tech University sent out its first message to our campus community related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The past month has brought many changes to our campus, state, and nation. As of this writing, Louisiana has 2,300 cases in 53 parishes, and our state has more cases of the virus per capita than any other state except New York and Washington. The outbreak has almost every area of the state stretched thin.

We’ve been challenged by the pandemic, and it stands to reason that we’ll continue to be challenged in the coming days.

Louisiana Tech also been shown the best in Louisiana Tech’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This crisis has opened areas of new opportunity for our University – just as we mark the end of our 125th anniversary year. This crisis comes less than a year after the tornado that plowed through Ruston, causing millions of dollars in damage on our campus.

As we watched the virus progress, we knew changes would be required on our campus. We just had no idea how quickly we’d be asked to respond to world events and their impact in the piney woods of north Louisiana. Let me tell you how our Tech Family has responded to the challenge.

Our faculty embraced the fact that they would need to move classes online. Less than 72 hours after we announced a move to alternative methods of course instruction, a majority of our classes were moved online. Within a week, even labs and studios – experiential learning opportunities that Tech specializes in – were online as well. Our faculty in chemistry and physics, as well as our innovative Living with the Lab engineering curriculum, were all brought online despite the challenges. That’s hundreds of classes for this quarter. 

Our students have also adapted to a learning scenario they never signed up for. Like all members of the Tech Family, they have shown grace under pressure as their classes were moved online and they moved to their homes. As an example, one PhD student who was looking forward to defending her dissertation in Molecular Science and Nanotechnology this month defended it using Zoom. She rose to the occasion and kept proper social distance from her audience at the same time. 

Our staff have also shown how they pull together to keep Louisiana Tech moving forward. They have learned to work from home and keep our University business moving forward. Our Infrastructure and Information Technology staff ensured we had the proper tools to move courses online and conducted training almost around the clock to ensure we were ready for the next week of classes. They continue to facilitate training, find resources, and create open forums for our faculty and students. Staff have also moved counseling, tutoring, career advising, and numerous other student services online in short order.

Our students, faculty, and staff have responded time and again to the challenges we’ve faced with the pandemic. All of higher education will need assistance from state and federal government, donors, and friends to recover from this crisis. I hope we can count on all of you as we move forward after the crisis ends.

Dr. Les Guice | President of Louisiana Tech University.