CIC Adjusts for Coronavirus Era

Since late February 2020, news from and about CIC—like all news—has been dominated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its many implications. This issue of the Independent, published during the outbreak, reports several items from before the extent of the virus’s impact became evident. Since then, CIC has taken many noteworthy actions—such as co-hosting webinars and launching a new listserv.

Ongoing Initiatives

In support of national efforts to slow the spread of the virus, CIC has postponed or canceled programs, meetings, and events scheduled for spring and early summer. (As of this writing, events scheduled through July 2020 have been affected.) Most programs are being rescheduled for a later date, and a few will be updated to include digital delivery of program content.

CIC has posted updates and announcements about program changes and communicated directly with those who were involved in or had expressed interest in specific programs.

Further, CIC recognized that coronavirus response created new demands on the time and attention of campus leaders. Scheduled deadlines for applications and proposals have therefore been extended and some routine activities delayed. This newsletter, for example, would typically have been printed and mailed to campuses; under the circumstances it was re-conceived for digital publication instead.

Coronavirus response also brought new focus to existing CIC initiatives. Faced with the need to move courses online mid-semester, CIC’s 2019 report Teaching the Humanities Online: Lessons from a Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges proved to be a timely resource and received renewed press attention, as reported in CIC News. CIC’s confidential listservs for presidents, chief academic officers, and other campus leaders became much more active, as participants exchanged questions, suggestions, and ideas about topics such as how to provide continuity of library services, how to quarantine students while they remained on campus, and which employees to define as “essential.” User data shows that some listservs have seen increased activity levels of more than 100 percent and have attracted significant numbers of new participants. One president called the Presidents’ listserv a “godsend,” and another praised the “village” from which she received so much good advice.

In response to requests from member campuses, CIC has created a new listserv for those in “chief of staff” or similar roles. View more information on this and all of CIC’s members-only listservs.

Webinars

In order to bring timely information to campus leaders as they navigate pandemic responses, CIC has launched a series of webinars. Many will be offered with sponsors or partners; each, as developed, will be announced to members by email.

In collaboration with the Association for College and University Educators (ACUE), CIC has promoted a series of webinars called “Effective Online Instruction.” The first, offered on April 2, attracted more than 1,200 participants from colleges and universities of all types throughout the nation. Recordings of each webinar are available online, as is access to ACUE’s “online teaching toolkit.”

On April 14, longtime CIC sponsor Steptoe & Johnson, LLC offered a webinar on legal issues in pandemic response. “Presidential Pandemic Strategies: Legal Cures for Viral Headaches” addressed a wide range of issues that confront presidents leading coronavirus response, including faculty and academic program considerations, financial implications, governance and board issues, and others. The recording of the webinar is available online.

Other topics are being planned for the remainder of the spring and early summer.

Intergenerational Connections Counteract “Social Distancing”

CIC’s AARP-supported project, Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults, has officially ended (see the related story, “Report Provides ‘How to’ Guide for Effective Intergenerational Projects”). Nonetheless, several of the institutions that participated are continuing to foster meaningful interaction between college students and older adults to help both populations combat the isolating effects of social distancing. Examples include:

  • Calvin University (MI) students have been telephoning and sending “snail mail” to older adults.
  • Centenary University (NJ) students organized a pen pal program to maintain relationships with the older adults in their project. They will share not only letters but also artwork, crossword puzzles, and games to keep connections strong and lift spirits.
  • Students at Coe College (IA) are exploring needs and volunteer opportunities in their home communities. Each plans to interview a family member or friend about the experience of social distancing. They also are watching popular movies concerning older adults and writing reviews about how they reflect issues studied in class.
  • Converse College (SC) students who collaborated with older adults on the theatre production Growing Old: Food and Oral History in Performance are now creating a “spring hello” email system in which students reach out to the older adult women with whom they worked last spring.
  • Occupational therapy students at Dominican University of California call their older adult partners and assess their fall risks and home safety by telephone.
  • And students at Spelman College (GA) continue to study the relationships among intersection of age, race, gender, and class in American/African American history and culture in seminars and are planning to interview a 101 year-old woman in the near future.

Staffing and Office Operations

Of course, CIC did not neglect to take care of its own staff. Early on, CIC adopted recommended cleaning and “social distancing” practices in the Dupont Circle office. Subsequently, all staff were assigned to work remotely, using new collaboration and video-conferencing tools to continue the work of CIC in full force.

While the coronavirus pandemic precludes “business as usual,” CIC is committed to maintaining communications with members and providing new and continuing services as described above to help campuses weather this difficult period.



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