Our Titans Return series continues with just four weeks to go before Opening Day of the 2021-22 academic year at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Today, we check in with Martin Rudd, UWO assistant chancellor, about what the year has in store for Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campuses.
What lessons learned during the pandemic will faculty and staff be bringing forward with them into the new academic year?
We’ve continued to realize that big and small meetings can be successfully held online with engagement and creativity, and that there are different ways of being together that don’t always mean travel time.
Access to telehealth through UWO’s Counseling Services has been an enhancement this past year, and the support that has been offered to access campus students and faculty/staff has been encouraging. Continuing support for mental health is critical.
Among the multiple new technologies that faculty and staff had to use for communicating, teaching, developing course materials and offering professional presentations and to learn through workshops, trial and error and outstanding institutional support, they have found something that works better for them than before and is an improvement to the workplace.
We learned that there is power in partnerships that we had not previously used with local and regional healthcare systems and healthcare providers, with community conversations, through discussions about how to “bounce back” and in creative solutions to keep moving ahead.
What’s new on the campuses for the 2021-22 academic year?
In a word, PLENTY. We are welcoming two new faculty members to the access campuses in biology (Fox) and chemistry (Fond du Lac) to provide instruction in key academic areas. Fall 2021 officially launches the newly redesigned, one university associate of arts and sciences degree, a sure sign that we are making big strides in creating a transfer friendly and mobile degree that is especially welcomed at the Oshkosh campus.
In addition, we have created new Quest courses for that degree that will be offered. With the Division of Online and Continuing Education, we are launching a completely online associate of arts and science with seven and 14-week courses available to engage new students who need to balance place, time and work commitments.
It is recognized that students who started last year did not have the usual onboarding experience on campus, so all three campuses are incorporating programming for “Second Year Students.” Fox Cities and Fond du Lac campuses are hosting Open House events to meet with these students, show them around, and provide opportunities to engage so they feel at home on campus and know the resources available.
The access campuses will be incorporating a parent newsletter to encourage awareness, connection, support and helpful resources as partners in their student’s success.
As we move towards the fall semester with more on-campus students and programming, a “Get Involved” campaign is happening across all three campuses to raise awareness of resources, opportunities for connection and support, and ways to build personal and professional development.
We will be starting the year with new and a robust Tutoring Services Center at the Fond du Lac Campus. Tutoring will have a new location just off the Commons, offering a whole array of services dedicated to our Fond du Lac Campus students, including writing, math and discipline-specific tutoring services.
How will the access campuses be celebrating our sesquicentennial?
Access campuses are supporting the planning and preparations for the 150th anniversary celebrations that are taking place this fall.
Both the Fox Cities and Fond du Lac campuses are participating in a local campus-based Historical Scavenger Hunt as part of a wellness initiative that is themed and in celebration of the 150th. Each campus had to submit five to 10 objects with clues related to the history of the campus. This will be promoted through human resources.
The Fond du Lac campus is planning to bring back the Quiz Bowl with a 150th spin on it. This will be an event for faculty, staff and students to participate in on Teams. At the Fond du Lac campus, we also will host other 150th activities, such as 150 for the 150th, a collection for the student food pantry with a goal of 150 food items.
What are your own personal thoughts/goals for the coming year following the unprecedented year we experienced in 2020-21?
We will see a first-year class as we have not experienced before. We will need to graciously understand how their lives have been changed by the pandemic through high school, home life, fluctuations in their insecurities and ambitions. A liberal arts education has been shown as a great “equipper” to deal with changes in an ever-evolving workplace, post-graduation. Just as important is the need to adjust our institution and system to embrace wholescale equitable learning opportunities. Our campuses will welcome (back) learners who are more diversely trained than in March 2020. And even more than before, we will need to align student support and student success models to ensure that academic outcomes are strengthened for those who access our institution.