Gardner-Webb University Campus Community Stays Connected During ‘Physical Distancing’

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Faculty, Staff and Alumni Provide Academic Instruction And Encouragement to Students 

a screenshot of a counseling video made in Spanish by Dr. Hebert Palamino
Dr. Hebert Palomino, School of Divinity associate professor of pastoral care and counseling, has released a series of videos in Spanish on caring for people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The World Health Organization (WHO) was one of the first to recognize that the term “social distancing” gives the wrong impression during the Coronavirus pandemic. The organization suggested individuals practice “physical distancing” while strengthening social ties. On the Gardner-Webb University campus—where the average class size is 17—staying connected is second nature.

Weeks before GWU officials announced the difficult decision to transfer all classes to online format, Gardner-Webb faculty and staff began preparing. While the learning curve was steep for some, they persevered and received help from others on campus.

a photo showing Doug Knotts working with a piece of clay
Doug Knots, professor of art and chair of the Department of Visual Arts, is offering video tutorials on working with clay.

“We are working hard to stay connected,” said Mischia Taylor, Godbold Business School dean and professor of marketing. “Our number one focus is to make sure our students are all okay and to let them know we are here to support them through this crisis. I am texting with students to check in on them, especially my seniors who are having a hard time with commencement changing and struggling to think about a career when most organizations have suspended hiring.”

Many professors are using Zoom, a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, to conduct classes and check on students. “The first few minutes we just catch up,” Taylor offered. “I have students who live in other countries, so they give us updates as to what is going on in their world.”

Dr. Elizabeth Amato, assistant professor of political science, noted that Dr. Emily DeFreitas, director of Digital Learning, has been a tremendous help. “Emily is doing the work of the saints,” she observed. “Everyone has risen to the occasion, especially our staff, and students have been fantastic and have taken these changes in stride.”

GWU Connections

Listed below are additional ways the GWU community is not just providing instruction, but also caring for each other and their students.

  • Dr. Meredith Rowe, assistant professor of biology, is finding ways to simulate lab experiences for her students.
  • Brian Arnold, director of student activities, campus recreation and new student orientation, is bringing the CrossFit community together by posting workouts people can do at home each day.

    A screenshot of Neal Payne on Instagram encouraging GWU students
    Neal Payne, associate minister to University for student ministries, is enlisting the help of faculty and staff to share a scripture verse and word of encouragement on the GWU Campus Ministries United Instagram page (@gwucampusministries).
  • Neal Payne, associate minister to University for student ministries, is enlisting the help of faculty and staff to share a scripture verse and word of encouragement on the GWU Campus Ministries United Instagram page (@gwucampusministries).
  • Jenny Humphries, director of International Student Services, has worked tirelessly to help the international students who want to go home get there.
  • Dr. Hebert Palomino, School of Divinity associate professor of pastoral care and counseling, has released a series of videos in Spanish on caring for people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first video is available here.
  • Doug Knots, professor of art and chair of the Department of Visual Arts, is offering video tutorials on working with clay, and the department is offering free take-home creative clay kits that contain recycled air-dried clay in plastic bags of about 10 pound each.
  • Together, Gardner-Webb University, Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, Boiling Springs Baptist Church and Green Bethel Baptist Church recorded an online candlelight vigil in Dover Chapel at Gardner-Webb University as a reminder there is great brightness in our world in this present storm, COVID-19. Until the world has passed through the storm, GWU will light candles in Dover Chapel. The pastors of the churches and GWU President Dr. William Downs invited the community to light candles in their windows as a message to friends and neighbors—”One university. One community. One people. One purpose. Be safe. Be Strong. Keep the Faith.” The video is available here.

Find more resources here.

 Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.