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Saint Vincent College Faculty Blog

Reflections on an Early Start to the Semester

Posted by Michael Urick on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 @ 10:08 AM

In a blog that I wrote in September 2016, I discussed why fall is my favorite season. Reflecting on my sentiments from four years ago and thinking about this upcoming semester at Saint Vincent, fall still remains my favorite time of the year though this semester will definitely feel different than prior years for a variety of reasons.

Many of the reasons that I stated in my 2016 blog for loving the fall centered around the beginning of a new academic year and classes starting again. This year, however, I admit that there are many new challenges that we must face as the fall begins.

I am excited that we will be welcoming students once again onto campus. As I think about my classes, I am contemplating many interesting questions. For example:

  • How can I continue to help foster a spirit of community in my classes as my teaching style, format and approach changes due to social distancing guidelines
  • What can I do to best prepare my students for the challenges that they will face in their lives given the level of uncertainty that exists in the world in which many people are attempting to come to terms?
  • In what ways will the concepts that I teach be relevant and needed in a COVID/post-COVID world?

I am currently grappling with these questions as I plan my courses and am looking forward to rising to the challenges that they imply. As I consider these challenges, I think about the really smart and really talented people who have been working extremely hard at Saint Vincent throughout the summer to allow for our fall semester to happen. Even more, they have been working hard not for it to merely happen – they are doing their best to provide a hospitable and engaging student experience! I appreciate the proactively responsible reopening plans that they have made. And I am especially proud of (in fact, I am blown away by) the resilience and adaptability of our faculty, staff, administration and especially our students.

I am eager to begin the fall semester in a few short weeks. I miss our students and I miss my colleagues! Though some things will surely change on campus this fall, I believe that the energy and excitement that I talked about in my 2016 blog will still exist this semester. This energy and excitement, of course, comes from once again learning with and interacting with our students.

In a more recent blog (April 2020), I reflected on my experiences earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic. I wrote about how I can use time in social isolation to try different things, develop in new ways and grow closer to my family. Though a lot seems to have changed even from just four months ago, I am encouraged by my own advice. Though this semester will provide many challenges to students, faculty, staff and administrators, with an open attitude we can all learn and grow together and, in so doing, hopefully become an even closer community.

I always look forward to hearing from you; so, please drop me a line at michael.urick@stvincent.edu or connect with me via Facebook and LinkedIn.

Dr. Mike Urick

Topics: Saint Vincent College, Saint Vincent, blog, Faculty Blog, svc blog, fall semester

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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