More than 250 Mount Saint Mary’s faculty and staff members gathered for the 2021-2022 academic year’s Convocation, “Celebrating Community and the CSJ Mission.” The event highlighted many examples of the University’s commitment to its students during the past 18 months, but also acknowledged that the challenges of the pandemic are not over.
The event began with a reflection video by Mary Trunk, assistant professor of film, media and communication, which showcased student experiences during the pandemic. “My professors have been extremely understanding and compassionate during this time,” said one student.
President Ann McElaney-Johnson encouraged the community to draw strength from the University’s founders. “As we are still navigating strange and turbulent waters, I have found myself thinking more about our founders and their decision to come together in 1650 in disease-ridden France with a vision to heal, to comfort, and to transform lives,” said McElaney-Johnson. “The decision to respond to the needs of the time that drove those early sisters must be our driving force today.”
Teaching online last year had its own challenges, but Mount professors also discovered some surprising advantages as well. During the panel presentation, “Teaching During a Pandemic: Resiliency, Transitioning and Returning to Campus,” Emerald Archer, associate professor of history and political science and director of the Center for the Advancement of Women, shared how she paired students in her “Politics of Globalization and Interdependence” course with students around the world. They used the virtual exchange program Soliya to discuss issues such as the pandemic and global warming. “Students loved it,” she said. “It got them thinking in different ways than if they were just talking to their Mount Saint Mary’s peers.”
The Center for Academic Innovation and Creativity, along with members of the Instructional Design team, also shared new templates for online courses. And the COVID-19 Compliance Taskforce presented current measures being taken to keep the Mount community safe.
Gail Gresser, director of Campus Ministry, gave the closing prayer. “I'm asking God's divine blessing upon all of us as we step into this new year, ready to meet the unknowns, holding lightly onto our plans and anchored in a deep sense of peace,” she said.
Additionally, two post-Convocation workshops were held: “How to Make Textbooks More Affordable. Open Textbooks: Access, Equity and Student Success” about Open Education Resources and other strategies, and “Critical Race Theory and Callings,” a session grounded in critical race theory and the first-year common read, Callings.
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- MSMU welcomes its first Fulbright Scholar this fall, Eliud Biegon, PhD, from Kenya, who will be teaching African history and Swahili.
- Community members are invited to place a rock in memory of a loved one in either of the new rock gardens on both campuses.
- The former Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be formally rededicated as The Bernadette Gonzaque Robert Center for Equity, Diversity and Justice later this year.
- Mary Trunk is looking for stories about the Mount’s history for the documentary she is creating for the University’s 100th anniversary.
- Julie Feldman-Abe, director of the Center for Cultural Fluency, is looking for more cooking demo hosts for the Food for Thought series.