1 You've started the fall semester under unusual circumstances. How has COVID-19 affected overall enrollment and the first weeks of classes?
Enrollments have risen across all of our programs. In our traditional undergraduate program here on our main campus, we're providing students the experience they're looking for, even with the impact of the pandemic. Our team worked hard all summer to prepare for the safe resumption of classes on campus, and to incorporate technology in every classroom that allows us to both livestream and record every class for students unable to attend in person. Online, programs in our College of Professional Studies are known for a combination of quality, convenience and flexibility, attributes that have been in even greater demand during the pandemic. We've seen growth there at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
2 Indiana Tech has a strong international student program. How has the pandemic affected its enrollment?
Like many colleges and universities, we've seen a decline in recent years in international student enrollments. We're fortunate that we still have many international students learning with us, as they contribute so much to our university culture. The pandemic has contributed to a decline by making travel and the securing of visas more difficult. However, we are confident this will change once the pandemic begins to subside here and around the world.
3 In June, the university issued a forceful statement on diversity, inclusion and racial justice. Why did you feel it was important?
It's a matter of being honest with ourselves, much like people and communities around the country are doing. The fact is, while Indiana Tech has always been a place that values and reflects diversity, we can still do better for our students, faculty, staff and the communities we serve. The statement was meant to acknowledge that and also share the specific actions we're working on to ensure that equity, inclusion and justice are at the core of each person's experience at the university.
4 Do you expect to see any long-term consequences for higher education as a result of the virus?
The pandemic has really accelerated certain trends that have been impacting higher ed for a number of years. College and universities need to be able to offer students a quality, relevant and practical education that prepares them for successful careers. They have to do this in a variety of modes – online, in-person and hybrid experiences that combine the two. Schools that do these things successfully will thrive. Those that don't will struggle even once the pandemic is over.
5 What's your greatest fear – and hope – for this academic year?
My greatest fear is for the individual students who might be unable to continue their education right now due to the impact the pandemic might have on them from a health perspective, or financially, or for a range of related issues. We've worked hard on giving our students options to keep making progress toward earning their degrees to help with this. My hope is that this work continues to have the impact we're seeking – that students keep following a path to completing their degrees, going on to great careers and giving back to their communities.