Guest Column: Ready for our students


(8/19/2020)

by Dr. Denise McDowell, WSU VP for enrollment management, student life

 

Winona State University is widely known for many things: its beautiful location right here in the city of Winona; its tight-knit, supportive campus community; and its reputation for preparing students to succeed.

In fact, Winona State holds the number one student success rate among all Minnesota State institutions, which we like to think is a direct result of the support students receive while they are here. It is something we work hard at, something we are proud of – and something we are ready to get back to this fall.

Fall semester instruction starts on August 24 via multiple delivery methods, and we are excited to have our students back at Winona State. This summer has been one of detailed planning to make sure we are ready to offer a safe, healthy, and welcoming environment — an opportunity for students to focus on their education and continue their paths to meaningful employment.

We have been hard at work, developing plans based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota State system office, and the office of the governor. We have dissected every component of campus and reimagined what these spaces must look like in our new reality. We are busy putting new health and safety protocols in place and creating spaces for a campus life experience that allows our students to learn, stay healthy, and be safe.

We commit to not only a focus on the health and safety of our community but on what is best for our students’ education so they can continue the timely pursuit of their educational goals. We know that learning and teaching styles vary widely, as do comfort levels amid the pandemic. With that in mind, we continue to ask WSU students and employees what they want the fall semester to look like – providing an opportunity to inform our decision-making processes.

As a result, half of WSU’s fall courses will be offered online, with the other half delivered as either hybrid or face-to-face. We have taken the added step of offering several courses in multiple formats so that students can structure their schedules based on what fits their needs. Our statistics show that about 27 percent of our students will be taking all their classes online this fall. Further, as we navigate the unknowns that lie ahead for the fall semester 2020, we are fortunate to benefit from an exceptional technological infrastructure that provides us a great deal of flexibility and the ability to pivot as circumstances dictate.

Above all, I often reflect on the comments from students about how much they love Winona State and the Winona community – how it feels like home. It brings our institution great pride to know students think this way and that they choose WSU to guide them in their educational pursuits. Now, more than ever, we need the bright minds of our Winona State students and graduates, working to improve our world.

My heart is filled with gratitude to be able to say: Welcome home.

 

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