Dean Ed Adams shares how those throughout the college have responded to COVID-19
As we approach the end of spring term, I am amazed by the responses that so many throughout our college have taken to adapt to these challenging circumstances. I have seen much creativity from our faculty and staff in all our academic areas. I also wanted to recognize the work of some of the other areas of the college that often go unseen.
The CFAC Advisement Center played an important role in our college’s response to the cancellation of convocation ceremonies. Their team worked through challenging circumstances to keep individuals informed and get diplomas to graduates, which required mailing nearly 800 diplomas and submitting all of the student names into the registrar. They also distributed the convocation program to graduating students, which was included on the college convocation website.
As with others throughout the college, the employees in the Advisement Center are now working remotely but have shown great commitment to serving students, making advisors available for phone appointments and answering emails during normal office hours.
Although the Arts Production team has faced changes in their work with the cancellation of all performances on and off campus, the members of Arts Production swiftly turned to maintenance and professional development mode and have utilized this time they would not normally have during spring and summer. Many of the student employees have remained in Provo where they contribute to the important task of keeping the venues and support spaces in prime condition. The non-student employees are still working on their design, planning from their own homes and continuing to work on their remote professional development opportunities in their respective and multi-faceted disciplines.
As Russ Richins, director of Arts Production said, “While the shutdown of campus and touring has certainly had its impact, in certain respects it has provided a much needed pause for Arts Production personnel to catch their breath.”
BYU Arts and Bravo! had everything cut-out from underneath their series. Bravo! Series producer Bridget Benton has been constantly exploring solutions to performance venues and schedules. She has been creatively exploring alternatives, and has been a great resource on how we would move forward in a socially-distant future.
“Our CFAC COVID-19 committee and several subcommittees are filled with some of the brightest minds in the college,” said Benton. “Together, we are working to think strategically and creatively to ensure that we will fulfill the academic purposes of our departments, while still keeping the safety and health of our performers, staff, students and patrons at the top of our mind.”
BYU Arts Marketing and Creative Services
For the BYU Arts Marketing and Creative Services team, things have taken an obvious shift. The entire office is now working from home, while connecting on a weekly basis to keep their work moving forward. Although the team is unsure what Fall 2020 semester will look like — which makes their planning very difficult — they are moving forward on creating promotional material for 2020-2021. Creative Services manager Ty Davis said, “We’re hoping, designing and planning for the best, but every day is different.”
The social media team is working on informational videos to express that although everything has been put on hold, students of the CFAC are working together to continue their art and education. These videos will show plans for the future and let patrons know that we plan to come back to the stages as soon as we can.
BYU Arts Marketing has also begun creating a digital version of the season brochure for the upcoming year. Instead of a usual printed catalogue which would be distributed to patrons, the pamphlet will be published on the website. The team has been hard at work to make the content informative and accessible. “It’s new for me as I’m a print designer, but I think what we put together will be the new precedent for what we do in the future,” Davis said.
Additionally, the team is designing the social distancing signage that will be put in the HFAC. They are exploring creative ways to make this signage informative but also inviting.
Shane Warby and his CSR team have been working remotely since the last week of March. They have done a tremendous job of continuing to help faculty and staff with technological needs such as answering desk calls and being available to fulfill questions and concerns. They have made occasional visits to campus to resolve hardware issues or deliver new machines to faculty and staff. Luckily, they have tools that enable them to remotely view and control users’ machines which has allowed them to solve issues from home. To keep their team unified, Slack and email communication have been key. Although the usual camaraderie in the office has come to a halt, Shane and his team have made efforts to keep in touch and provide our college with the necessary support.
Don Powell has been the go-to person on keeping us on top of technology, responding to our needs as the university shut-down in-person classes, and then assessing our needs for fall semester. He is constantly looking for solutions to help efficiency and to support teaching and mentoring.
As the External Relations office has shifted to remote work, the team is still working diligently to increase awareness for the happenings of the college, share stories and promote the arts. All of the office’s teams — web, editorial, social media, photography and graphic design are continuing to seek out these stories. More than ever, the office is utilizing their creativity in covering the news of the college. Melinda Semadeni’s initiative has kept communication moving from the college out to faculty, staff and students.
One of the main adjustments the team made was in their coverage of convocation. Throughout the years, the External Relations office has highlighted the talented graduates of our college through coverage of our three convocation ceremonies. This year, due to COVID-19, the team responded to the cancellation of these events by quickly creating and implementing the Share Your Story: #CFACgrad campaign in order to keep the magic of graduation alive for our seniors. During this initiative, students were and still are able to submit their stories and share experiences that made their time at BYU special. The launch of this campaign required tremendous effort and work and was executed with promptness and professionalism.
The part-time team has utilized online tools like Basecamp to maintain continuity of coverage for six academic units and seven academic areas, growing likes and views on social and web platforms. External Relations manages 12 social platforms and 42 websites while partnering on a number of others. In addition, the team published 36 articles in the month of April, highlighting how those in our college have creatively responded to the circumstances.
“COVID-19 offered us an opportunity to innovate and hone our skills. Although we had to shelve what we’d been planning for months and a quarter of our office were graduating seniors themselves, we pivoted to find a way for graduates to share their voice and celebrate their BYU experience,” said Semadeni, assistant dean for external relations.
Office Staff, Administrators, and Business Managers – Departments, Division and College
Our dependable office staff have had to make numerous adjustments from winter semester adjustments, cancelling events, rescheduling meetings, facilitation Zoom connections and now re-doing Fall semester scheduling.
All of these folks keep us in operation mode, and are the first-line with each crisis. I sure appreciate them. They are the backbone of our college. I hope you take a moment and send them a note of gratitude.
Overall, the many different areas of our college are working creatively to find solutions in these unprecedented times. I’m so grateful for the countless hours of hard work from all those who have quickly adapted to the changes brought on by COVID-19.