When the spring semester started at Marywood University, no one could have imagined that the campus would need to close its physical location by mid-semester due to a pandemic. However, once it did, decisions had to be made to deal with this new normal—face-to-face academic classes converted to an online format, faculty and staff working remotely to keep university operations going. The question arose about how to move forward with student life.
After facing the reality that the athletic season and on-campus student/club events had to be canceled, how would students connect with one another, beyond the online academic experience? Michael Kalage, director of student engagement at Marywood University, wanted to turn an unfortunate situation into an engaging opportunity. He connected with professional organizations, agencies, vendors, and performers to reimagine and deliver student events virtually. The result has been a resounding success, and Marywood’s virtual student engagement efforts include Student Government Association meetings, trivia nights, Esports tournaments, live digital caricatures, and a magic show. The annual Student Leadership Awards will also take place virtually.
Mr. Kalage said, “I wasn’t sure what kind of response to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised when we maxed out the participant limit on our first Trivia Night.” The success of these events indicates that, once students do return to campus, the virtual events will remain an option for online learners and commuter students, who may not be able to attend on-campus events. “This experience has been really eye-opening and, although I am hopeful that this situation will resolve sooner rather than later, I think it has changed the way our office will operate for a long time to come,” he continued.
For additional information about Marywood University’s Student Engagement office, please visit http://www.marywood.edu/studentactivities/index.html, or call (570) 340-6016.