Last week was a bittersweet ending to a challenging spring semester, as we bid bon voyage virtually to our newest College of Fine Arts grads. Breanna Bruner, one of our own, edited a lovely video from faculty and staff congratulating the newly minted Class of ’20. And although we regret not having been able to applaud them in person at the Commencement Ceremony, we wish them all the best as they leave FSU for greener pastures.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on our community, as it does in so many communities across the world. After courses were moved online after Spring Break, we struggled to finish the semester with just a short amount of time to prepare for the transition. Courses we had been teaching effectively for years in the classroom suddenly migrated to a remote platform, with which none of us were comfortable. We fretted even more about the numerous challenges and risks our students faced after having been forced to relocate. We knew they were facing ever-growing health risks to their loved ones and themselves, catastrophic financial and job losses, and unequal access to technology and resources, to name only the most glaring issues. Of course, we have only just begun to determine the extent of the damage and their losses.
As the pandemic moves into the summer and threatens the fall, we are taking steps to shift the curriculum online, planning for what might be a protracted period of distance learning. A skeleton crew will be on campus in the coming months, ensuring that the office remains open and operational. At the same time that we are endeavoring to meet the expectations of our students—providing them with the highest quality training in critical thinking—we’re also trying to reimagine how we might serve our community while continuing to practice social distancing. Museum internships and courses related to exhibition planning have always been critical avenues for our students to develop professionally. We’re working with university, local, and state administrators to find creative ways to offer those opportunities in the event that we’re prevented from doing so in person.
I’m very proud of the hard work my colleagues on the faculty and our graduate instructors put in to finish out the spring semester, as I know it wasn’t easy for any of them. Although we adapted to the situation, we worried that our students were receiving a diminished experience. We treasure the intimate, interpersonal exchange and mentorship that lies at the very heart of what we do. While we’ve modified our expectations and shifted our emphases in light of the present circumstances, all of us are eager to return to the classroom where the most dynamic learning takes place.
At the same time that we acknowledge our community’s hardships, we also want to take a moment to recognize the remarkable accomplishments of our students. This month’s newsletter introduces our national doctoral fellowship winners, our new student organization officers, and the first wave of our 2020 graduates. Please join us in celebrating their accomplishments. We’ve been in touch with some of you during the crisis, and we’ve received secondhand updates on others. Take a moment to let us know that you’re in good health, inform us of any news you’d like to share, and remember that you’ll always be a part of our community. Now, more than ever, we’re eager to make sure that you are enduring.
Associate Professor and Department Chair