University of St. Thomas Magazine Fall/Winter 2020

“When we made that quick shift, what kept us going was faculty’s care for their students,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Wendy Wyatt said. “Even if things were a little rocky in figuring out how to have class online, students felt cared for by their professors. Students and faculty were giving each other a lot of grace.” Opus College of Business leadership and management major Viridiana Martinez ’21 said her professors in the spring were “open and flexible” with the shift to online learning.

fall were offered in three ways: in-person, online or mixed-mode (a combination of both). Regardless of the format, the university worked hard to make sure its values were carried forward. “St. Thomas has always been committed to giving students personal attention – that’s just who we are and what we do,” Dr. Nakeisha Lewis, associate dean of undergraduate and accelerated master’s programs in Opus College of Business, said.

International student Simon Zamani wears a mask on campus. Photo by Mark Brown.

Students wear masks in an economics class in O'Shaughnessy Educational Center. Photo by Mark Brown.

“Even though it was virtual and through emails, I still felt very connected with them,” Martinez said.

Over the summer, all classrooms and teaching spaces were upgraded to support broadcasting content to remote students, as well as to record class sessions. With new pan-tilt-zoom cameras, microphones with broad audio pickup, and annotation monitors, St. Thomas has the ability to be more flexible in delivering courses. “Good teaching is good teaching, regardless of the mode, and we have so many amazing faculty teaching at St. Thomas who were really committed to making their spring courses the best possible given

While technology made the shift to online learning possible, it’s not a cure-all. Dr. Paul J. Wojda, chair of faculty for 2020-21, said online courses give flexibility to faculty and students, but it can be challenging to assess what works and what doesn’t in evaluating teaching effectiveness. He also noted creating a good online course takes time, effort and technical support.

In order to support room capacity limits, individual learning preferences and health needs, courses in the

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