Courtesy of the Office of the Provost
While the past year has been a long, grueling, and difficult year for many students, there is hope on the horizon with new deans, in-person learning, and new leadership positions in residence halls.
The university has filled three new roles for deans. Dr. Tyra Dean-Ousley will be the Dean of the School of Health Sciences. Dr. Dean-Ousley, a native Chicagoan, has worked in numerous acute and ambulatory care settings with a primary focus in maternal-child nursing and medical surgical nursing. She received her doctorate in education at Northcentral University and is the founder of Leap 4 Joy Ministries.
Dr. Margaret Watkins will be the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Watkins is the Dean of the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and a professor of Philosophy at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. She is the president of the International Hume Society and the author of the “Philosophical Progress of Hume’s Essays”.
Rev. Dr. Brian Lugioyo will be the Dean of the School of Theology. Rev. Dr. Lugioyo is serving as an elder in the Free Methodist Church and is the Professor of Theology and Ethics at Azusa Pacific Seminary. He has served in a variety of roles at Spring Arbor University, Vanguard University, and Pepperdine University.
The new deans will be starting in Fall quarter and they will be coming in as changes to SPU’s health and safety protocols begin to be implemented.
Jeff Jordan, Vice Provost for Student Formation and Community Engagement, described the various efforts the university will be making to ensure student’s safety in autumn 2021.
After months of waiting to see what new protocols health officials would announce regarding vaccines in schools, the SPU administration decided to mandate that all on-campus students would need to be vaccinated to return to in-person learning in autumn 2021.
“At one point we did not have a vaccine a year ago, at one point we thought it would be limited and only for certain groups. As things changed, we kept assessing whether or not this would be something we would consider.”
The COVID-19 campus action group had been contemplating this decision since January, but hesitated to implement the mandatory requirement for next year as the vaccines were for emergency use authorization. As the accessibility increased, the university waited to see when students would be able to get vaccinated en masse.
As Jordan said, vaccines were “one more tool in the toolbox” when it comes to combating COVID-19.
SPU worked with an outside consultant to update the air and ventilation systems in the building on campus. The systems will increase outside air coming into the building to reduce internal air circulation. SPU is using the MERV 13 HVAC air filters which have some of the highest rated filtration.
“I give a ton of credit to our facilities people to increase air exchange in our buildings. That is a huge piece, especially that we now know transmission of the (COVID-19) virus is a lot more about air exchange and aerosol,” Jordan said.
Jordan emphasized that the school will continue to provide hand sanitizing stations, but said that the university has not determined whether or not the school will require masks on-campus in the fall. The health and safety protocols will also continue to be discussed for the coming year, but those protocols have not been definitively set.
SPU has had a total of seven on-campus COVID-19 cases in the spring quarter so far, which has included four students and three staff.
Residence halls will be experiencing new changes in the Fall quarter, including new limits on the number of students allowed to share a dorm, and a restructuring of which year of students are in certain dorms.
“We will allow two students per residence hall room, regardless if it is a double, triple, or quad… That is from guidelines set up by the governor’s office,” Jordan said.
Jordan also announced that next year there will be changes made to the dorm structure with first-year and returning students being separated into different halls.
“Of our more traditional residence halls, Ashton, Arnett, and Moyer, will be for first-year students. Hill and Emerson will be for returning students,” said Jordan.
There will also be new leadership positions added into the dorms. In the first-year residence halls, there will be resident peer academic coaches aimed at ensuring first-year students are prepared for their first year of college courses. These coaches will live within the residence hall.
In the returning student residence halls, there will be peer career advisors, or PCA’s. These advisors will be living in the residence halls and are intended to help prepare students for internships, careers after college, and preparation for post-college next steps.
“We are working on shifting in providing increased leadership in these halls, focused on the students living there,” Jordan said.
From residence hall leadership changes to required vaccinations for students, the next year is going to be drastically different from the past year, and as more information comes out about health and safety requirements, there will be a clearer vision of what autumn quarter will look like.