What a difference a month makes. In late February, we celebrated the expansion of our nursing program, announcing that 90 more nursing students would be able to enroll each year thanks to a new partnership with Memorial Health System. This month, we basically reinvented our college in a little over a week so we could continue to serve students and conduct business during the coronavirus pandemic.
I am writing this from home as our college has transitioned to remote instruction and office work, just as many of you have. Moving a college based mainly on face-to-face instruction to all remote or online learning took the herculean team efforts of LLCC faculty and staff. I was elated, but not surprised, at how this challenge drew everyone together to devise and implement new ways of serving students. The LLCC Board of Trustees and I thank them all and appreciate their efforts. Although our buildings are closed, with employees working remotely and a skeletal crew onsite keeping our operations moving, we are open for business.
Many of our faculty are already experts at online instruction. Others are most comfortable teaching in physical classrooms. In a very short time, more than 100 faculty learned how to transition their classes online or to alternative methods with the guidance of our fantastic Academic Innovation and eLearning team. As a result, 800 more classes are available online or remotely than were the week before.
Although there have been a few bumps along the way, this transition has been successful. But our greatest concerns as always are our students, and we know this has been disruptive. Faculty and student success coaches have personally reached out to their students and continue to be available for any questions or concerns. In addition, tutors, admission, registration, recruitment, information technology and academic success professionals are assisting students by phone, email and text. Find contact information for these individuals on our comprehensive webpage: www.llcc.edu/covid-19-college-update.
For years, the LLCC Foundation has maintained an emergency fund to help students who face unforeseen financial circumstances that threaten their ability to attend school. Now, that fund is even more important as many more students will likely need support so they can continue their education. The Foundation recently held a “Giving Day” to benefit the Pay It Forward emergency fund. Donations to that fund continue to be gratefully accepted through www.llccfoundation.org/donate.
Our Illinois Small Business Development Center at LLCC has been on the front lines of providing guidance on the dizzying amount of economic challenges and opportunities of the past few weeks. Although not in their usual office, staff at the Illinois SBDC at LLCC remain available to assist small businesses throughout the area. Get in touch with them at email@example.com.
We want to assure everyone that LLCC is here as always to serve students and our community. In the last few days, we partnered with Computer Banc to acquire refurbished laptops to loan out to students who need them, and we donated supplies, including protective masks and eye gear, to local healthcare providers.
It is through education that lives are changed and the world moves on to a brighter future. Thanks to our outstanding faculty and staff, and the determination of our hard-working students, we will get back to normal, whatever that “new normal” turns out to be. In the meantime, we’re here as always to take care of our current students and to help them and future students find success.
We look forward to the time when we can welcome everyone back to campus, and until then, please stay safe and be well.