From the Desk of Dr. Aird: Open letter to the SUNY Empire and UNYP community

Dr. Aird

From the Desk of Dr. Aird

Open letter to the SUNY Empire and UNYP community

As I take time to reflect, I continue to consider how we started this semester and where we are at this moment in time. We were all shaken to our core with this unknown, including but not limited to concern for family and friends coupled with the isolation we continue to endure. We were not allowed a practice drill or a set of instructions that we could unpack and know what to expect and how we as individuals should proceed. It has been challenging. Yet, this period in our history has proven to me that we are a community in all ways that matter. As we all are impacted in various ways by this pandemic, we stand together and are here to help anyone that needs support. We are truly not in this alone. If anyone feels unsettled, or just needs to chat please contact the college through UNYP or SUNY Empire. 

In terms of our mission to continue to educate, SUNY Empire and our partner UNYP moved swiftly to prepare all courses for online delivery.  It was not an easy task nor was is what happens in a normal delivery of online courses. SUNY Empire has been delivering courses for many years online, and the process, development and delivery does not happen overnight. However, this pandemic in a moment’s notice, changed the way we think, work and how we had to engage with you in a way one can only conceivably term, triage. The immediate task at hand was/is to continue to work with our students. Instructors without online experience nor time to consider how to proceed, continued to commit and work tirelessly to adapt to the new normal. Professional staff worked without a missed beat and assisted students in every way possible at this challenging time. Indeed, although nothing that has occurred can be viewed as a perfect scenario students, staff and instructors all rose to the occasion. 

In our logical mind, although we know life is not perfect, how do we adapt and make the best of a challenging situation? Let me focus for a moment on student learning and education in terms of the shift to and understaning online learning. As we live in a globalized world, many of you may one day work with colleagues across the globe. Your friends will not be in the same room or at the same organization. It is advantageous to learn how to communicate in a virtual environment, critically analyze data, answer questions, discuss, prepare and deliver presentations while working across different time zones. So, we can conceivably consider online in its best form, a preparation for honing your skills, gaining practical experience and another tool in preparation for your future. 

We at the college will always continue to strive and ensure that you receive the best education, regardless of whether your experience is traditional face 2 face instruction, online or hybrid. We will also adapt to the present and future trends while guiding you in your understanding of and development of both soft and hard skills. While the additional flood of information we receive at this moment will offer different perspectives, agendas and a plethora of fake news it is also a time to reflect and grow. Online learning, in its best form, can offer the opportunity to hone critical thinking skills while unpacking the daily bombardment of news, fear, ideology and shifting of what we thought we knew for sure. It is at this moment, this time, where your education and thought processing skills offers the opportunity to develop and enhance your skills for the future. 

In closing, I applaud you all. We demonstrated that we could rise to the occasion, albeit not in a perfect scenario but rise. Until we see each other in person again, stay well, stay focused and be your best you. 



Dr. Sheila Marie Aird 

SUNY/Empire International Education, Director of European Academic Programs

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