Following BJU President Steve Pettit’s announcement in chapel that students are to go home and complete their spring semester courses digitally, emotions and questions erupted in the minds of students, faculty and staff alike. Faculty specifically began putting together the puzzle of adapting a residence course for online delivery.
Some faculty, such as Dr. Dan Olinger of the School of Religion, are looking forward to greater flexibility by delivering course material online.
“In a sense, this is every teacher’s dream to get paid full time, but you never have to actually go to class,” Olinger said. “Your schedule is completely flexible. The problem is that now you don’t get to interact with the students at the same level, and you don’t get to see them and look in their faces and talk to them. Fortunately, we live in an age where some of that can happen. But I’m greatly looking forward to the schedule flexibility, and you know, teaching in my PJs, that’s awesome.”
Other faculty members remember 2007—the last time BJU faced a health crisis. Dr. Bruce Rose, chair of the Division of English Language and Literature, said, “I was quarantined when whooping cough was a thing on campus. And so, I was already thinking last week about making sure everything was organized, even before I found out that we were going to do something.”
He plans to take advantage of the opportunity to try something new. “I’m hoping that it will provide opportunities as a teacher for improving my classes in terms of experimenting with things that I’ve never done before or different ways to change things and to make them better. I’m organizing, right now, a Slack group for English majors so we can kind of keep in touch of what’s going on with each other, and over the break. It keeps up that community we’re missing because we’re not all sitting together in class.”
Some students, such as student teachers, are required to stay on campus for degree requirements. Jane Smith, who supervises student teacher placement, said the Division of Teacher Education had front-loaded student teacher requirements this year. “All I can say is the Lord in His providence really worked it out because student teachers pretty much had everything done already except for finishing their days. And it’s just worked out beautifully where they can still stay till April 9,” she said.
Dr. Tammie Jacobs, an instructor in the Division of Teacher Education, added, “I think it’s sad, in a way, because I like to have all the graduating seniors over to my house and throw a party. We can’t have a party. So that’s sad. Yeah, we’re going to miss them a little bit early. They’re saying goodbye a little early. But we know that the decision has been made, and it’s a good one for us.”
Counseling faculty member Dr. Steven Cruice gave this advice to the BJU community: “The bottom line is … God’s sovereign. This didn’t take Him by surprise. If anything, this should cause us to be dependent on Him even more. We’re not as in control of our lives as we think. But then we serve a great God. He’s a good God. He’s always up to something good in our life to make us more like Christ and use us to impact others for Christ. And that’s exciting.”
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