Before the Universe entrusts you with something important, it must first challenge your mind, tire your limbs, starve your body, take away everything you possess, and obstructs everything you try to accomplish. For it is the only way to motivate your intelligence, creativity and perseverance, and to make you develop skills for things you normally cannot do. (Mengzi, Chinese philosopher, 370—289 BC.)
Dear Colleagues of SciMath and ITEC:
Ten days ago, amidst a looming pandemic, the College and I called upon you to teach the rest of the semester without face-to-face contact. What a challenge, and yet what a response you have made! In no time, you converted all 213 sections of the spring 2020 classes to remote delivery. You remap the curriculum, create new materials, and make things work under less-than-perfect circumstances. You also explore new technology, learn new skills, and use methods you did not in the past. You support your peers by sharing knowledge and by encouraging each other. I am proud of what you have accomplished, and I am inspired by how you did it.
Like Chinese philosopher Mengzi said, grave situations challenge us to become better, and prepare us for even greater tasks. For our team, the next task is already on the horizon: We need sustainable online teaching practices for future classes, should the pandemic linger.
In the next a few days, I will be working with departments on the summer 2020 schedule. Whether your department chooses to go online full-speed or cautiously, I'd like us to make sure that the students are adequately taught, and that your department keeps developing good online practices to meet future challenges.
Thank you for being great educators and colleagues. I am proud to be part of this fantastic team.
Dr. Ben Weng