Wright Auditorium on East Carolina University's campus. 

In recent weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought upon many changes to East Carolina University. As students and faculty continue to learn and undergo course transition difficulties, ECU officials encourage students that there may be benefits looking forward.

Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said he thinks it’s important for students to look forward and think about the return to campus as some people may be feeling distant and distracted.

Mitchelson said it’s important to look forward to the return of Pirate culture. He said this includes football, homecoming, and all the hallmarks of what students look forward to every fall.

“I think that’s a beneficial exercise for all of us, I think it will be a lesson that we’ll carry on with us, that taking care of ourselves is important but taking care of others is, is as important or even more important,” Mitchelson said. “This thing illustrates it better than anybody could in a textbook.”

Although some individuals may take face-to-face interaction for granted, Mitchelson said he believes it’s something students will begin to appreciate as they return. He said he thinks there will be an overall keen sense of appreciation and rededication for what makes students, faculty and staff so special.

“You can’t substitute for, you know, having faculty, staff and students all congregated in one place. There’s an energy that we can look forward to, there’s an enthusiasm that we can look forward to, there’s I think an increased level of appreciation that we can look forward to in the Fall,” Mitchelson said.

Mitchelson said students may need to call upon new skills and self motivation, and these skills will follow them back to campus upon return. He said students will be better equipped with study skills and new confidence in their learning abilities.

With the need for enhanced communication between students and professors, Mitchelson said people may become more articulate with word use as written communication is important in this new environment. He said he also thinks students will benefit from practicing this greater level of precision and that it can be an important transferable skill.

“Really difficult times but I’m really thankful to be a pirate because I think our spirit and our compassion shines through,” Mitchelson said.

School of Communication Director, Linda Kean, said it’s beneficial for everyone to have multiple ways to communicate and visually represent what an individual is talking about. She said there’s multiple ways to deliver a message and the more you can utilize, the better you’ll be.

“I teach public relations campaigns and I talk about using, you know, social media, using face-to -face communication, using, um you know television and all of those kinds of things,” Kean said. “And so this has given everybody kind of another tool in their tool box to communicate.”

Kean said the school of communication offers undergraduate and graduate classes online so most of the faculty has experience with teaching online, just not necessarily the classes that were being taught face to face this semester. She said they’re learning so many different tools that can be used even in their face-to-face classes.

Kean said students and faculty are going to learn different teaching and learning styles which will make students more competent when they have to go out and do things in the future.

If students eventually get a job where they have to host a WebEx meeting, they’ll be more confident in conducting those meetings, Kean said.

“So that’s part of it I think is just you know having more tools in your tool box makes you a more confident communicator,” Kean said.

Sophomore marketing major Emily Cross said some of her teachers have been really open about communication due to the situation everyone is in.

Cross said her management professor and English professor use Zoom, a video conferencing application, during their normal office hours so students can log in and talk to them like they originally would during regular office hours. She said they are also open to emails for any questions.

Although the situation isn’t ideal, Cross said she has emailed more with her marketing professor more in the past week than she has during the entire semester.

“Sometimes it can be kind of frustrating to email back and forth to teachers because they take forever sometimes, but this has kind of forced them to be diligent about that,” Cross said.

Cross said at the end of the day, it’s forcing individuals to be diligent and everyone is still trying to figure these things out together.

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