The COVID-19 stay-at-home initiative has taught everyone how truly important personal connection is.
This is becoming especially apparent to students and professors alike, who want nothing more than to gather together in a classroom and have an in-person discussion; something that was previously an everyday event and now feels like a distant dream.
Though the fall semester is months away, members of the faculty are still striving to give students and prospective students that personal touch of community Newman is so well-known for.
During the last Faculty Senate meeting of the year, Cheryl Golden, Ph.D., professor of history, was chatting with some other professors, explaining that she would be writing notes to all the students in her classes. Feeling particularly inspired by her sentiment, Ryan Huschka, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, suggested other faculty start doing the same for prospective students.
Other professors loved this idea, which led Golden to reach out to Associate Director of Admissions Georgia Drewes for more information on how they could get letters to prospective students.
Cammie Kennedy, director of admissions, explained that “admissions team members were extremely excited by the request … and that faculty members could contact them on such a personal level. We can’t thank them enough for supporting our recruitment efforts in these difficult and unusual times.”
Golden was simply delighted to see how smoothly this new campaign was going because she knew how much that personal touch means to someone.
“We are told that here at Newman we do a great job in developing professional relationships with our students as well as professional development,” said Golden. “So we’re really proud of having that one-on-one (connection with students).”
She went on to provide an anecdote from her undergraduate years, highlighting the importance of community and connection.
“When I was writing these letters, it reminded me of when I was a student and my professor wrote me a letter — and every word seemed important.”
Though she later realized that the professor was likely just giving his regards, it made her realize how much a professor can mean to their student; it reminded her of the impact a mentor has on their pupil.
So, as she composed a letter of her own for a prospective student, she wondered if that student would value each individual word the way she did years ago.
This nostalgic revelation made the absence of her students more apparent as she considered the circumstances of quarantine and continued preparing her curriculum.
“In this time of anxiety, it’s so important to encourage students and lift them up,” said Golden.
The letter-writing campaign shows the true beauty of Newman’s community, and Golden further exemplified this fact by saying, “So many people wrote so many note cards that we had folks waiting for more notecards and student names.”
While the sheer notion of recruiting students the old-fashioned way is likely enough to set Newman apart from other universities, faculty members were actually so enthralled by this initiative that a “waitlist for students” began to form. This genuine enthusiasm for service is what it means to be a family.
When asked what she hoped the letter-writing campaign would accomplish, Golden gave an answer filled with hope and love.
“Just to let the community know that Newman is here and ready to serve. To reinforce to students and their families that they can reach out to faculty with any questions during these tough times.”