Despite unprecedented challenges in the spring 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty continued to meet students’ needs and celebrate their achievements.

SURF Day presentations went virtual. Alumni visited as guest lecturers. Assignments became opportunities to connect with one another and process the changing world in meaningful ways.

Though stretched thin and juggling immense life and family stressors, teaching faculty found ways to share their time, talents and expertise with the campus and broader community. This brief synopsis barely scratches the surface of the hard work and effort by every single member of every department.

Arts and Humanities

"Pandemic Reading List" logo on a maroon background

English department creates pandemic reading list

Faculty in the English department collaborated to create the Elon English Pandemic Reading List, a broad list of fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry, graphic novels and even listening and viewing materials to add context and understanding of humanity’s reactions to disease and pandemics. With categories like “Cabin Fever Fiction” and “Love in the Time of Coronavirus,” the list spans centuries, cultures and subgenres. “When you are widely read across time and themes, you are able to see the human experience as something ever-changing and ever the same,” Senior Lecturer of English Paula Patch said.

Screengrab of the cast of “Hamlet” during their virtual performance on Zoom.

“Hamlet at Home” makes headlines

When the pandemic closed campus activities, the cast of “Hamlet” took their characters online for a virtual performance of Shakespeare’s classic. The performance streamed on Facebook Live on April 4, the weekend the Department of Performing Arts had planned to perform the show in McCrary Theatre. The creative shift from stage to screen was covered by local and regional media outlets. “While it can never match or compare at all to what we would have had in the theater, we also have to remember that this is the only time we will have this group of actors available to perform together,” Assistant Professor of Arts Administration David McGraw said. “To know that this is that moment — we didn’t want the moment to slip away.”

Music and dance recitals take successful online forms

Seniors in the music department and dance program shifted their spring recitals to online outlets. Music students livestreamed their recitals on Facebook and other platforms. Eight senior dance majors performed their Senior Seminar performance, “All Things Must Pass,” for online audiences. Each contributed short films of their dances to the production, which streamed on YouTube.

Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Erica Mena rolling a cart of PPE donations for Alamance Regional Medical Center across campus.

Elon STEM departments donate PPE to Alamance Regional Medical Center

Faculty in McMichael Science Center donated all available gloves and masks to Alamance Regional Medical Center, Burlington’s area hospital, in late March. Erica Mena, lab manager for the biology and environmental studies departments, organized the donation of 20,000 nitrile gloves and 75 face masks after ARMC put out a public request for personal protective equipment donations while facing shortages early in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Elon faculty create “Elon Answers,” a series of COVID-19 Q&As with the Burlington Times-News

Faculty in the natural sciences and public health programs partnered for a series of questions and answers with the public. The team of 12 faculty accepted questions by email and social media and put their expertise to use researching and gathering sound scientific information to answer those questions. The series ran for 21 installments in the Burlington Times-News and was republished on Today at Elon. Professor of Biology Dave Gammon spearheaded the effort by faculty in the chemistry, biology, engineering, public health studies, environmental studies and psychology departments and the School of Health Sciences.

Social Sciences

History and geography faculty formalize ‘Living in a Time of COVID-19’ campus archival project

Course assignments in the history and geography, English and philosophy departments became the foundation for a campus-wide archival project, “Living in a Time of COVID-19.” Assistant Professor of History Waseem Kasim’s online assignments and writing prompts led him and Assistant Professor of Geography Sandy Marshall to work with Belk Library archivist Libby Coyner to collect and preserve the writing, recordings and other media created in response to the pandemic. Faculty in many departments expressed the empowerment students felt in writing about their at-home observations, anxieties, and interviews with relatives and friends during the spring.

Human service studies students create podcasts about virus’ impact on community agencies

Students in Human Service Studies Lecturer Monica Burney’s spring course, HSS 111: The Art and Science of Human Service Studies, modified their semester-long podcast projects after COVID-19 forced remote learning. The group podcasts usually focus on Alamance County community agencies, services and client-focused operations. At home, students compared and contrasted agencies and resources available in their home communities to Alamance County services. The assignments led a number of students to become involved with food pantries and other service agencies in their hometowns. “People’s needs don’t stop during a pandemic,” Burney said. “We challenge students to see these things not just as problems in communities near Elon, but to see how these issues affect people and agencies in their own areas.”