MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT DR. WILLIAM N. RUUD
I am sure you are all aware of the cliché, “You don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone.”
That is exactly how all of us at Marietta College have felt since March 10 when we made the heart-wrenching but necessary decision to transition to online learning. As difficult as it was to not have our students — and a majority of our employees — on our beautiful campus, everyone showed that amazing Pioneer spirit that makes this place so special.
Instead of standing still, everyone jumped into action. Because of our size and our desire to succeed, we showed the world how nimble and flexible we can be. While other colleges and universities extended their spring break an additional week, our faculty and staff pivoted in a matter of days.
With each passing day and at the successful conclusion of each week, we showed amazing resilience, and also improved how we were doing our jobs. And when times were tough or the final weeks of the spring semester began to drag, our students didn’t complain. Instead, they joined us for a virtual Doo Dah Day, virtual Monday Music Night and Live Q&As.
We also made decisions that were fiscally responsible, including the suspension of printing the spring edition of Marietta, The Magazine of Marietta College. We hope this is the only time we have to do this, but it just made sense at a time with so many uncertainties. I always look forward to sharing the latest issue of the magazine as we highlight our alumni, students, faculty and staff. While this is a digital-only version, I think you will be proud to read how the Marietta College community stepped up in the face of adversity.
I am motivated and inspired by the resolve and resiliency of the Marietta College family. And that is a major reason why we are preparing to re-open campus for in-person learning in the fall. We know there are a lot of question marks and hurdles that need to be cleared, but we are confident we will be welcoming students back on campus in August.
Thank you for your continued support and I am pleased to share Marietta College’s stories through this digital platform. Each one of them reveals, no matter how difficult the times, that we are continuing to provide a transformative education for our students.
Bring Forth a Pioneer!
President Ruud Online:
Under normal circumstances, while I see the accessibility benefits of online learning and instruction for people who need it, I am not personally interested in online teaching. I believe the benefits of a small, residential, liberal arts college like Marietta to be intrinsically tied to the interactions between faculty and students, students and students, etc. No matter how much care we take to replicate those interactions and experiences online, we can never fully achieve the quality of interactions that are possible in person.
It is due to my firm belief in providing authentic experiences for students that even long before we were faced with a pandemic, I have always opted for demonstrations or hands-on lab experiences for my students over simulations. A large part of teaching physics is helping people to develop a physicist’s way of thinking about how the universe works. Computer simulations, or even video recordings, are able to present complicated physics concepts in elegant, efficient ways, but they are less capable of changing the way people think than an experience with actual apparatus, where nature is the authority.
Overall, we were able to make due in a difficult, unexpected situation. Some might say that this proves that all of college could just be done online. I would say, rather, that this experience for me reaffirmed the many benefits of a true, residential, liberal arts experience.
— Physics Professor Dennis Kuhl
Dr. Christopher Bowmaster, an instructor and music recruiter for the Music Department, taught individual clarinet lessons and Music Fundamentals via Zoom. It took three to four weeks of the online format for the class to gain a sense of normalcy, though the classes resulted in two different teaching experiences.
“My online clarinet lessons proved to be rather tricky because you couldn’t hear the necessary subtleties in performing that are essential in demonstrating their knowledge of the composer’s stylistic differences,” he says. “I had to have the students record themselves and then email the recording to me for an assessment that we discussed during our time together on Zoom. The recordings ended up being profoundly beneficial for the students as it forced them to correct the inconsistencies that they could previously avoid.”
He plans to add mandatory recording assignments in future clarinet lessons as a result of what he observed.
He says he taught Music Fundamentals primarily at a piano, rather than in a classroom with a projector and whiteboards, and noticed an increase in student engagement with the material.
“Those that had previously not paid as much attention during in-class sessions became passionately engaged, which makes sense when thinking about their generation,” Bowmaster says. “However, we found ways to make this course successful and professional together. If a student had an issue with the internet at home, we found a way to solve it through a friend. If a student wasn’t mentally healthy on a particular day, I gave them a reasonable extension to complete an assignment without penalty. Unfortunately, the most annoying part about the class was all of the additional scanning for assignments. Thank goodness for Adobe Scanner!”
He commended the students for their ability to succeed in such a changing and challenging environment.
“Our students were unbelievably brave and resilient during the immediate switch to online teaching,” Bowmaster says. “They have made me a believer that we truly have some of the most exceptional students in the country. Not only am I proud of them, but honored to be their instructor/mentor as well."
Brittany Peppel PA’12 had just started her job as the Physician Assistant in the College’s Center for Health and Wellness on March 1, and her first day began with a 9:00 a.m. COVID-19 planning committee meeting. The week before spring break, the center was busy and she was able to see a lot of students.
“The following week, when the students left for spring break, they found out they were not coming back to campus. Immediately I thought, how can I be of service to the students when they aren’t on campus? After much thought, we decided to offer telemedicine and telecounseling to best serve our students,” she says. “Thankfully, previous medical laws restricting telemedicine across state lines without proper state licensure were lifted, therefore, medically we could serve our students across the U.S. Also, restrictions about having HIPAA compliant software were lifted, therefore we were able to provide telemedicine via Zoom video communication with the student’s consent.”
Peppel says the employees from a variety of departments reached out to her to offer support and encouragement as the Health and Wellness Center ventured into teleservices.
“I felt like I was on a winning team and that we were all in this together. It was also rewarding to be able to support students across the U.S. who were struggling mentally and physically in this time of isolation,” Peppel says. “I tried to reassure the students that the staff at Marietta College care about them and can’t wait to see them back on campus in the fall. As we forge into the future, I look forward to working with such an intelligent and strong group of people to do what’s best for the students of Marietta College.”
Like many students living in rural environments, Sydney Amore ’23 and Lauren Eakle ’21 needed to remain on campus because of the lack of reliable internet service.
Living in the Sigma Kappa house with a fellow sorority sister and her house mother, Amore continued to work in Legacy Library throughout Spring semester and kept up with her studies.
“I live out in the country (in Zanesville, Ohio) and I was concerned about not having strong enough internet for Zoom,” she says. “I had great grades before Spring Break, so I didn’t want to jeopardize them by not having access to internet. My parents were sad at first because they wanted me home and they were concerned about me being here alone or becoming antisocial by not being around anyone. It’s not the same campus but it’s definitely better for me to be here.”
Eakle, a Music Therapy major from Whipple, Ohio, lived in McCoy Hall along with three other students on her floor.
“As far as my classes are concerned, they’ve been a mixed bag,” Eakle says. “Some courses adapted flawlessly to an online format because they were always lecture-based to begin with; and others, we’ve had to get a little more creative. As a Music Therapy major, a lot of my work is very hands-on and I had field work off campus that had to be canceled. Some classes have taken a little more working around, but I’ve been very grateful for the way my professors have been able to adapt.”
Amore appreciates the effort the College made to provide alternative student experiences, such as the virtual Doo Dah Day, virtual Late Night Breakfast, and for the care it provided to students during the pandemic.
“Marietta still feels like a home to me,” Amore says. “They have done a great job as far as working to keep students happy. They provided masks for us, which is helpful and nice and not something they had to do. They’re giving us money back for our food, but they’re still providing food for us. It’s those types of things that make me appreciate my decision to come to Marietta where, normally, I would receive hands-on learning and face-to-face experiences. I really appreciate this college.”
Both Amore and Eakle know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that the pandemic will not last forever.
“Here’s something that I need to remember from this time: I need to remind myself to reach out to other people,” Eakle says. “Even if we’re separated by distance or by quarantine, those connections are still there and you just need to reach out and talk to the people who matter to you to keep those connections going.”
College’s Bumgarner, Dawkins aid campus workers, students with homemade masks
Rhonda Bumgarner and Hanah Dawkins are on opposite sides of the Marietta College campus. Once the campus closed in response to COVID-19, the employees were on the same page when it came to how to help.
Bumgarner, a staff accountant, and Dawkins, an administrative assistant in the Department of Psychology, pulled out their sewing machines and started making masks for employees and students who were still on campus.
Combined they have made more than 100 masks and are prepared to make even more.
“I’d actually been thinking about making masks as the COVID-19 outbreak came to light when (Director of Physical Plant) Fred Smith contacted me with a need to supply masks to the Marietta College employees who have to work on campus during the outbreak,” Dawkins says. “I was more than happy to help.”
After Smith requested 50 masks, Dawkins started looking around online at various patterns that looked like they would be effective and could be completed quickly.
“I ended up combining a couple different patterns and finished in about two and a half — very long — days,” she says. “I’ve been getting many more requests daily.”
Bumgarner was motivated by her eldest daughter, who is a nurse.
“I know it was something small, but I wanted to do something that could help,” she says.
Bumgarner has continued to make masks for campus, but also for “Sewing Faith,” which donates masks to several organizations and healthcare groups.
“I will be donating more to Sewing Faith, and I am also making more for some of the students who are still on campus,” she says.
Neither of them says they are a seamstress, but they aren’t novices either.
Bumgarner took some classes in high school and learned by watching her mother.
“My mom used to make some of our clothes and she made quilts by hand,” Bumgarner says. “I decided I would try making a quilt for my youngest daughter when she graduated in 2010. After that, I took a beginner’s quilting class and since then I have taken a few more mystery quilt workshops.”
Dawkins’ mother was also an inspiration. She started learning from her when she was 10.
“I started out making simple items like aprons and shift dresses for 4H projects,” Dawkins says. “I’ve done all kinds of sewing — I’ve made formal dresses, curtains, children’s clothes, costumes, and now facemasks. I also do a lot of alterations for others. My favorite items to make are my daughter’s Halloween costumes.”
Dawkins says her mom will periodically post a photo on Facebook of her in a Renaissance dress that she made to wear for her high school madrigal choir.
“That dress is still the most difficult item I’ve ever made,” Dawkins says. “As a challenge, I picked a pattern that was ‘authentic,’ and it was incredibly challenging. The bodice had rows of boning in the front, ruffs around the neck and wrists, and about 15 hook-and-eye closures on the back. The skirt was a masterclass in gathering upholstery-weight fabric, attached to the bodice with several large hook-and-eye closures, and even incorporated a bum roll to lift the dress out at the waist.”
It took her several months — and many tears — to complete, so she entered it into the West Virginia State 4H exhibition.
“I did win the Best in Show Award,” Dawkins says.
While restrictions are starting to be lifted across Ohio and the U.S., Marietta’s mask makers say the biggest challenge they faced was not what either expected.
“Finding elastic for the ear loops was a bit more challenging,” Dawkins says.
Bumgarner adds, “I just never thought finding elastic would be so hard.”
Going into the Fire
PA graduate, current student go to NYC to help with COVID-19 pandemic
Over the past couple of months, the transition took some adjustments across the board. Most of us were working from home with the exception of a few people. Our communication coordinator and visit coordinator did a great job setting up virtual visits which allowed us to still interact with families for daily visits and even larger scale visit experiences. We have still been calling, texting, emailing, and zooming to try to stay engaged with students during this time, as it is an adjustment for everything and tough on students trying to still decide where they went to attend college and we are just trying to assist with that process.
— Admission Counselor Amisha Herd
Shelby Millheim ’22, Women’s Lacrosse
Having to cancel mid-season was surely one of the most shocking things to take place during this pandemic. To make the most of the situation, I think this unique experience will bring us closer next season. We will no longer take any time on the field, at practice, or even at conditioning for granted. All of us teammates saying goodbye to the 2020 season will only empower us to work harder through a new perspective.
Zionne Newkirk ’23, Women’s Lacrosse
For me, COVID-19 did take away the opportunity of playing with my team and playing for my coach, and that was really hard at first. I listened to all the songs we used to sing together and I kept in contact with everyone and with my coach. It helped a lot. When I transferred to Marietta, it was the spring season, so I had to jump right into practice; and it was a nightmare having that taken away. My heart was breaking but we’ll be back and better than ever. We will win too many games to count next season!
Kasey Neville ’22, Track & Field
Belington, West Virginia
This has definitely impacted our team but, it in my opinion, it has brought us together more than ever. We meet on Zoom, we have group chats and we all still keep in contact, which is a bond that a family has. The atmosphere has definitely changed with not being able to see my teammates, from cheering them on to seeing them on campus. I have coped with this by keeping in touch with as many of my teammates as possible and coaches. The one thing I do to cope with this is just practicing and doing what I can during this time. I cannot wait to see my teammates all together and get back to work. I know our coaches have been trying to get us back together once this whole thing is over which would definitely be nice.
Brooks Spires ’20, Men’s Rowing
This period has been one of the hardest of my life. Having the spring season taken from us was absolutely heartbreaking. As a team, we tried to remain as upbeat as possible as the events have unfolded but a gloom remains. It has made a lot of my teammates, including myself, begin to value the time that we had together more than ever. There is a spark of hope and excitement that next year we can go out there and show what we had up our sleeves.
Damian Yenzi ’21, Baseball
It was really hard on everyone that our season got canceled. We worked so hard during the off-season to prepare for this year and it really hurt not being able to complete the season. We were off to a great start and this group of guys had a lot of potential. We are all very excited to get back on campus and can’t wait to get back to work.