President's Page - August 4, 2020

Blog 22: Welcome to Academic Year 2020-2021

Warm greetings to those that are returning from summer leave and a high-five to those that have endured this summer and navigated our COVID impacts and realities. For the past six months, whether it be personally or professionally, each of us have been required to make adjustments in our lives, and our virus environment has significantly altered our approach to our daily tasks and responsibilities. We cannot avoid or disregard our changing world and the many challenges that we have to face as a College. It is this time in our lives that working together, maintaining our values, and identifying altered strategies and goals, are absolutely necessary if this College is to persevere and continue forward in bettering lives and supporting our communities. For me perseverance takes on new meaning. For the values that we hold dear, the extent of COVID obstacles may shake the College foundations, but cannot shake our resolve in meeting and maintaining the Barton Mission. We continue to take pride in our profession and higher education is needed now more than ever; however, significant changes lie ahead.

One intention of this message is to identify how the COVID-19 will impact this College this coming year and the many years ahead. As it is, I happened on to an article this morning that succinctly identifies what this College is facing.

Each of the points drawn out in the Opinion page accurately reflects what we are now facing. The points drawn out in the article are not new, as reflected in an earlier blogs, it is just that COVID-19 is quickly accelerating those factors that will significantly affect this College.

Those factors include:

  1. A greater public emphasis placed on the perceived financial value of an education.
  2. Access to education according to convenience.
  3. The practicality of the degree/certificate as it pertains to a “livable” career.
  4. The locational “fit” as to student/parent preferences.
  5. Brand appeal.

I would also add a sixth factor that may be included in factor 4, but worthy of specific mention: is the College a safe place to learn.

Each of these factors is now clearly in the light of our COVID-19 responses. We are to continue and/or place greater weight on alternative learning venues fueled by technology, cultivate and expand points of access, maintain and implement career paths that provide adequate finances for a prosperous future, extend objective messaging to those who seek services and values that we present and represent, provide learning experience that others would speak to, and continued assurances that we are a “safe” College.

Although you can expect a “bare-bones” budget for this fiscal year, the College budget is expected to emphasize and support the above six factors. In doing so, we will be responding to COVID-19 realities and expectations of our students and public. It is also my belief and hopefully yours, that the character and resolve of this College’s greatest assets, you, will be the difference in maintaining quality and future viability.

The challenges are many, but the successes of prior years should tell us that working together leads to outcomes that we can all take pride in.

Sincere thanks to each of you for your commitments and professionalism. You are the Barton culture that embraces respect, success, and quality.