Chancellor’s Corner – March 2021

March 24, 2021
PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon

A Bright Future is Ahead

PNW leaders share why they are energized for the anticipated return to a robust campus life in 2021.

Keon: Dr. Holford.

Holford: How are you?

Keon: We’re getting excited about next year, right?

Holford: You know, Chancellor, I’m super excited about next year. We’ve got a lot of things planned, you know, as much as I think the students are ready to come back, I think our faculty and staff are ready to have those students back.

Keon: Well, I’ll tell you, I know I’m ready to have everybody back because it gets pretty boring around here when it’s just you and I.

Holford: That’s absolutely right, you know, we’ve got two great campuses. We’ve opened a bunch of new buildings around campus. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit us at sort of the wrong time. I’m excited to see the students come back and enjoy those spaces.

Keon: Yeah, I am too and do you think we’ll have everybody back in September?

Holford: So right now, our planning parameter is for a full-campus open starting in the fall, so we’re anticipating everybody being back in face-to-face instruction coming into August.

Keon: Another question that comes up from time to time has to do with will it truly be safe for our outdoor commencement that we’re planning on, but maybe you could let everybody know a little bit about what kinds of plans they have to keep this safe.

Holford: So I think you nailed the first one. We’re going to hold our event outdoors, and so we know that that will be a much safer environment. We’re still going to utilize masks and spacing to keep distant, but the commencement ceremony is certainly something that’s important to our faculty, to our staff, but our students are really excited about this. We will take, as you mentioned, the appropriate precautions. We’ll make certain that families are sort of grouped together in their own pods. We’ll keep everybody stretched out, but again, it’s something we’re really looking forward to.

Keon: You know, I am excited about the fact that, you know, our brand-new building will be the backdrop for that commencement.

Holford: Having commencement on campus, having that be the gateway on to our campus is something we’re all really excited about. That is a fantastic building, and I can’t wait to have the public back in there.

Keon: So I know both of us have spent some time talking to SGA and getting a feel for where the students are, but at one point you did have an opportunity to sit in on one of their open meetings. What may be two takeaways do you have from that?

Holford: So some of the recurring themes that came up were, you know, our students are really interested in a college experience, and so they’re excited to be back on campus and they’re looking forward to those co-curricular opportunities. The club activities that normally go on, working directly with the faculty on different projects they have going on, and then also hanging out with each other around campus. So I think those themes came through quite clearly in our meetings with the students.

Keon: Are you hearing any concerns from the faculty or are they as excited about it as we are?

Holford: Well, Chancellor, I think everybody’s excited to be back in some way. Now, obviously we have a safe return committee that we’re still working with that is advising us on how to do that in a safe way, but I really do think that the students the staff and our faculty are really excited about being back on campus.

Pursuing Vibrant Student Life

Looking ahead to new and exciting possibilities for PNW students, these staff members share their plans for reinvigorating student life.

Hudson: I love Homecoming, like that is a Student Affairs professionals dream is the opportunity for students to celebrate the institution that they’re at, for alumni to possibly come back and celebrate being here as well. So I’m looking forward to Homecoming. Usually when we have it, it’s around February, and with the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do a whole lot of in-person things, but we’re going to be having some in-person events during Homecoming this year, which I’m so excited about, and the carnival that we’re having during Homecoming is going to be reminiscent of giving off those fair vibes, so that’s going to be very exciting, and it’s happening in-person, so no virtual, but it’s going to be an amazing couple of weeks that students are going to really be able to feel the pride, and come on campus, and see people that they haven’t seen in a long time, and have a great time.

Hewson: We have historically had an end of summer leadership conference and we are having talks about how we can revamp that and bring it back. When students leave Purdue Northwest, when they graduate, the career and the world in general is going to look at more than what they’ve just accomplished in the classroom. Finding what they’re passionate about in the world and really pursuing those passions into going after their dream job and accomplishing goals immediately in long-term after they graduate from Purdue Northwest prepare them not only to be leaders in the classroom or on campus, but throughout the community and then perhaps even around the world.

Madrigal: Welcome Week is a great time at Purdue Northwest. It’s when all the organizations, departments are outside in our concourse and we offer students free food and some free gear. It’s really a time to explore more of whatever you’re interested in, whether it’s in your major or in something completely different than your major to see what it is that you like to do in an environment that allows you to do that.

Hudson: Fall is going to be so exciting. There’s going to be lots of events and of course with students being here and giving us great ideas, the opportunities are endless.