How the Clemson Family went above and beyond during the pandemic

The history books will have something to say about these unprecedented days, when a global pandemic compelled Clemson University’s faculty and staff to evolve, adapt and transform.

The changes transpired moment by moment at first. Then, we found ourselves adjusting day by day until the cadence of college in the age of COVID-19 no longer became a response. It became our reality.

Here are some of the stories of Clemson’s people. We share them as a simple record of deeds great and small that have kept us safe, brought us comfort and cared for our community. Individually, they serve to inspire. Collectively, they remind us of how we rose to some of our greatest challenges, found joy amid tragedy and even overcame our worst fears.

 

Click on these stories to learn more: 

A team of Clemson researchers are volunteering their time and resources as part of a statewide effort to develop serologic tests that could play a key role in reigniting South Carolina’s economy and protecting healthcare professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clemson faculty and staff, in coordination with the United Way and Ten at the Top, have created an interactive map that provides information on different food resources across the Upstate for individuals and families facing food insecurity.

It would have been a tall order for Carol Collins to conduct her playwriting, improvisation and honors theatre appreciation classes without face-to-face interaction. So when classes switched to an online format after spring break, Collins’s chief priority was to maintain collaboration and communication among her students.

Ilya Safro, an associate professor of computer science, says that his team will soon roll out a new artificial intelligence system aimed at helping researchers explore the scientific literature as they strive for new discoveries to combat the novel coronavirus.

The Greenville Journal featured faculty member Jason Hurdich, South Carolina’s only certified deaf interpreter, serving as an interpreter during the pandemic.

A nationwide partnership of scientists and engineers, including Mark Johnson of Clemson University, is working on new methods of cleaning and sanitizing medical masks to help protect healthcare providers from COVID-19.

When a wrench is thrown into the best-laid plans, good leaders pivot and make the most out of less-than-ideal situations. A recent case in point is a College of Business crisis leadership class that was borne out of the disruptions and cancellations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. When the College of Business marketing students’ spring pilgrimage to New York City was canceled, a different kind of learning opportunity arose.

Michele Cauley’s marketing students aren’t letting the COVID-19 health crisis get in the way of their learning. In fact, they’re leveraging it.  “It’s experiential learning at its finest,” the College of Business professor of practice said. “These students will be forever changed by what they’re experiencing, which is going to provide them with a positive outcome from an otherwise negative situation. New skill sets are being formed, they’re learning how to adapt and be flexible, all of which they’ll need to do in their careers.”

Parenting during a pandemic has its challenges. According to Iryna Sharaievska, assistant professor in Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management department, prioritizing family leisure time can help us more effectively balance work, children, pets, financial pressures and fear of the unknown.

Melinda Harman of Clemson University is volunteering her time to explore how hospitals could wash and sanitize medical masks without having to ship them elsewhere or buy an expensive piece of equipment.

“All I did was hit ‘print.’” That’s the way Tim Pruett describes his involvement in producing a 3D ventilator expander prototype.  Pruett’s modest, self-effacing personality masks an artist who is deft at manipulating the HP Jet Fusion 3D printer.  He recently provided potentially life-saving proof of concept prototypes to one of Clemson University’s upstate healthcare partners.

Student Carleigh Coffin and Ashlyn Soule are working to design a device that could protect grocery shoppers:

How Clemson’s College of Education, its student teachers and numerous partner districts adapted to COVID-19.

Keep Calm and Carry On, the popular internet meme and World War II British battle cry, seems to be the approach College of Business students are taking in finishing their spring semesters through online learning platforms. Hunkered down in their homes and apartments due to the COVID-19 health crisis, most Clemson University business students contacted conveyed an upbeat response to finishing the semester in virtual classroom settings.

In medicine and emergency operations alike, experienced practitioners pass down knowledge in a way that expands upon classroom learning. The established surgeon teaches the young resident who in turn teaches the fresh-faced medical student. Experienced firefighters show new fire academy graduates how to deal with real-world situations. There’s a well-worn schedule for bringing the novice up to speed and giving him or her more responsibility.

More stories of Clemson faculty and staff who went above and beyond:

Teaching Theatre During COVID-19

It would have been a tall order for Carol Collins, a senior lecturer in the department of performing arts, to conduct her playwriting, improvisation and honors theatre appreciation classes without face-to-face interaction. So when classes switched to an online format after spring break, Collins’s chief priority was to maintain collaboration and communication among her students. Using Zoom, a video teleconferencing platform, helped replicate the classroom experience and keep students engaged.

In the playwriting class, students met online to act out read-throughs of scenes they had written, and to Collins’s delight, the responses were thoughtful and intentional. “Those playwrights were just helping each other with great insight and feedback, and that was very pleasant.”

Because in-person groupwork was no longer possible, Collins had to make some adjustments to her final projects. For the theatre appreciation class, instead of requiring a built set model based off a one-act play, students constructed a mask and rendered a costume to connect to a chosen character. They also added sound effects to explore the work’s themes, characters and conflicts.

“They could still collaborate, but they could also concentrate on their own [projects],” Collins said. “They wrote a monologue, and they loved it so much that I’m going to keep it for future classes.”

In the improvisation class, the original final project was for students to build an art installation that would be a set for their improvisation. Collins instead had her students make items that represented original characters, and they enthusiastically embraced the new assignment.

“Some built a sculpture. One built a wall. Someone built a box,” she said. “They could create anything to represent a character, and then when they did their improvisation, they were very creative.”

“Those playwrights were just helping each other with great insight and feedback, and that was very pleasant.”

When everyone except for the performer was muted on Zoom, Collins had her students wave homemade “celebration wands” to capture real-time reactions, provide encouragement and introduce some much-needed levity during a time of uncertainty.

“I took cues from each class and wove together with my students how we could make [online learning] fun,” Collins said. “The students were very supportive and imaginative and creative and helped the process soar. I couldn’t have done it without them!”

— Emily P. Baker

Learn more about the great work Clemson faculty and alumni are doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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