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Slinky solenoids were the focus of the Physics 112A lab taught online by Michael Olson (Physics) on April 9.

A Year to Remember Comes to a Virtual End

Final exams are nearly behind us, closing out what likely has been one of the most extraordinary semesters in St. Norbert’s 121-year history. But thanks to everyone’s flexibility, patience and partnership, we’re making this sudden, temporary shift to virtual learning a success.

SNC faculty and staff, in conjunction with President Brian Bruess ’90, are working hard to reshape the classroom experience, focusing on creating the highest quality distance-learning possible. And while the students sorely miss all the perks of being on a residential campus, they’ve been champs at understanding what’s most important now, which is keeping everyone safe and healthy.

But as we adapt to the current COVID-19 world, we can still look forward to (online) summer school and the 2020 Commencement ceremony, rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 29.

We’re still SNC!
Never fear – whether we’re in virtual-college mode or on campus, we’ll always be SNC. What does that mean? It means we care, for one. Bruess has been “dropping in” on various online classes to make sure everything is going well, for example. His visit to a class taught by Nick Mauro (Physics) prompted one student to text, “Is YOUR president sitting in on your class?”

Being SNC also means we’re still serving others, both locally and beyond. Our nursing staff is assisting the De Pere and Brown County public health departments with contact tracing due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a Green Bay meatpacking plant. Meanwhile, our education students are helping more than 500 K-12 students from 20 states via free tutoring. The program, initiated by St. Norbert, is a collaboration with seven other Wisconsin colleges and universities.

And Dining Services is busy feeding hungry people on campus and in the community, using food on hand, donations and grants. “It’s been really rewarding,” says Anna Haroldson, pitching in from her normal role with Conference & Event Services.

We’re helping one another, too
As we all adjust to this temporary “new normal,” everyone has struggles, whether it’s being confined in close quarters with others or figuring out how best to teach and learn in a virtual environment. But we’re all pitching in to make things easier for one another.

Academic Advisement is holding a Google Meet every weekday from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., while Career & Professional Development has virtual drop-in hours. The popular family-style Sunday dinners enjoyed by members of the STAR program, for first-year students of color, still are occurring – remotely, of course.

Gail Gilbert (Center for Global Engagement) says students who returned early from studying overseas had access to counselors to help them process the experience. They’re also part of a special Study Abroad Ex-Pats Facebook group, and received custom workshops on future travel opportunities and how to use this experience to their advantage when job-seeking. “They can put on their résumés not only what skills they gained from studying abroad,” she says, “but also what skills they gained from having to return home early and adapt.”

And as all students adapt to distance learning, they’re finding faculty members are willing to go above and beyond. Graeme Gallagher ’20 is enrolled in a computer science class he took just for fun. But as a subject outside his area of expertise, he’s finding virtual learning a challenge. Late one evening, he emailed a question to Dave Pankratz (Computer Science), expecting a reply the next day. He received one five minutes later.

“It was surprising that he had his email on,” says Gallagher. “I really appreciated that he doesn’t mind us messaging him whenever we can.”

Abigail Krueger ’23 is grateful Brad Ellis (Spanish) has students complete homework in pairs after their joint Zoom class, then pops in on every pair to clarify things and answer questions. “That’s really helped me,” she says.

And we’re ready for fall
Our students are anxious to get back to campus this fall, and we’re working hard to create a smooth transition from homebound to campus-bound. We’ve already completed fall registration; students “met” with their advisors over video, then registered online per usual. And our new online housing search – originally planned for the 2020-21 school year – worked well, too.

“When the world is in a state of crisis, no matter what that would be, it’s all about doing the best you can in every single capacity,” says Krueger. “When you surround yourself with people who think like that, a lot of beauty can come out of it.”

Need more help?
All areas of campus are ready to provide support to students wherever they are. Here’s how departments and offices are delivering services:

  • Academic advising. Students can contact their academic advisors directly with questions, or schedule a phone conversation or Google Hangout.
  • Academic support. Students can contact Academic Support Services for individualized assistance regarding academic accommodations while they’re away from campus.
  • Peer mentoring. Students can request digital peer tutoring, academic coaching or academic peer mentoring services.
  • Internet accessibility. Those who need help identifying ways to access the internet while away from campus can reach out to Academic Support Services.
  • Career & Professional Development will offer career counseling and advising appointments online or by phone.
  • Counseling & Psychological Services is available for confidential appointments to help deal with transitions, challenges and new anxieties in the current climate.
  • Daily reflections. The Rev. Mike Brennan ’99 is offering daily reflections via YouTube.
  • Information Technology Services. Those with questions about technology, software or accessing accounts away from campus can contact the service desk at servicedesk@its.edu or 920-403-4040. And the Tech Bar remains open all summer to help you with any questions as you develop your digital skills and competencies.
  • Library research assistance. Students with questions about research for an assignment or project can reach a librarian at the Research Center using the library web chat function or by phone at 920-403-3466.
  • Writing Center. Students can receive writing assistance remotely during the center’s regular hours. Make an appointment online.
  • Leadership, Student Engagement & First-Year Experience is offering virtual assistance to help student events and organizations to go online.
  • Mail. Students are reminded to change their delivery address to their current address for any future orders.
  • Bookstore. The college bookstore is offering free shipping on all ground orders.
  • Additional resources:

May 14, 2020