Aug. 26 Message to UNC Hussman Students from Dean Susan King

Dear UNC Hussman Students,

I hope that the pause in classes helped give you some space and time and to sort out the rapid changes of this Fall 2020 semester. 

We know how tough these last two weeks have been for you.

The Hussman faculty and staff hoped we could keep you focused on your careers and the excitement of our classes.  This summer we were learning new digital and remote tools to engage you more deeply in the learning.  We worked hard to better teach you both in the classroom and online. Our job is to coach and inspire you. And our promise to you—as faculty and staff— is that we will continue to do that despite the anxiety-provoking and confusing start to the semester.

Even though our classes are now remote, as a professional school we have built certain values and learning opportunities into your Hussman experience:

  • The chance to use state of the art equipment. Our librarians are giving students in our top skills classes those TV & audio media packs. 
  • We are ensuring that students who remain on campus and need access to our high-powered computer labs to produce our usual award-winning work
    will have access. Card access and protocols for safety are being put into place now in our garden level labs. 
  • We heard your worries about grading. We know you are highly motivated and also worried.  We are advocating for a pass/fail system again to lower the stress of this semester. 
  • Extra support for student learning though the Adams Emergency Fund, which can fund professional education needs such as small equipment or internet access.
  • We promise to listen to you, to hear your needs and to try to fill in the gaps of this very unusual pandemic year.

I want to emphasize that we don’t blame students for the tsunami of positive cases that demanded the administration de-densify campus. We do apologize for the confusion around the off-ramp. 

Great care was taken all summer to identify metrics that would trigger an “off-ramp” from campus and a return to remote teaching. It happened much faster than I expected, and I think we did not execute the “off-ramp” scenario and the exit from dorms and campus well.  As your dean, I apologize for that. 

I end with some good news.  Yesterday, the latest Hearst banner was hoisted in Carroll Hall. It shows that we won the 2020 Hearst National Championship — the fifth win in the last six years.  Even with a spring of remote classes, our student talent shined.

One plea from your dean.  Don’t hide from this pandemic.  It will mark your college era so learn all the lessons from it.  This is also a fall when we go to the polls for national and regional elections. Partisanship is high this year, but as communicators, listen to what the debate is all about and watch how America votes. And as someone who believes deeply in our American experiment, I do urge you to vote. That is the great privilege of our democracy.

My door is always open. We are sure to make more missteps as a university navigating this uncharted environment – but at Hussman, we are here to help you succeed in your education and achieve your dreams. This generation of journalists, PR and advertising leaders makes me very optimistic about tomorrow.  You have talent drive and heart.  And we have your back.

Dean Susan King