Following an opening prayer, members of Mississippi College’s Coronavirus task force immediately go to work to deal with challenges stemming from the worldwide health crisis.
Led by President Blake Thompson is a dedicated team of faculty and staff committed to the best interests of the university’s family. Meeting the needs of MC’s nearly 5,000 students comes first.
The group began meetings in Anderson Hall on the Clinton campus last week. Dozens of participants represent every facet of life at the institution – from deans to financial aid officials. They include professors from the humanities, business, education, social sciences, the law school and other disciplines.
Their work centers around daily afternoon meetings in the large room in the B.C. Rogers Student Center. But all of its members stay busy for hours keeping tabs on the constantly evolving global pandemic. As of March 19, there were 50 COVID-19 cases in Mississippi. Public schools across the Magnolia State will remain closed through April 17.
As the Trump administration this week announced details of a $1 trillion stimulus package to assist Americans impacted by the deadly COVID-19 virus, MC officials reported the latest developments on campus.
During an extended Spring Break for students, faculty upgraded their on-line instruction that begins March 23. Online classes proceed until further notice. A Coronavirus hotline is now up and running.
On Wednesday, MC officials updated information on the university’s website to allow students to retrieve essential items from residence halls. The students will be permitted to retrieve things like textbooks, computer laptops, and clothing.
President Thompson has repeatedly thanked the task force members for their service, dedication and long hours.
During his remarks on March 16 to address the group, Dr. Steve Martin, director of the university’s Physician Assistant program, summed up what is taking place at MC. “We prepare for the worst and pray for the best.”
It is work that officials at Mississippi College and so many sectors of the globe never anticipated earlier this year.
From stepped up efforts to further sanitize the Clinton campus and MC Law School in Jackson to travel restrictions for employees and students, the task continues almost hourly.
“I’m deeply gratified to work with these campus leaders as they put students and employees first in their decision-making,” said Jonathan Randle, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Colleagues, he said, are stepping up to meet “the challenges and demands of a rapidly-evolving situation.”
Randle says he’s been especially impressed by the dedicated efforts of MC public relations director Tracey Harrison, who has coordinated the task force efforts since day one.
Tom Williams, who heads MC campus facilities, praises the group’s work in the middle of the Spring semester with classes ending in late April.“The work being done by this committee is some of the most focused efforts I have seen on campus in a long time.” He is confident the best decisions are being made for the university’s community.
Interim Provost Debbie Norris has joined many MC leaders walking up to the microphone to share her insights as the crisis impacts her alma mater.
Lengthy meetings each day come with the territory. MC leaders are often collecting information “that seems to be changing every minute,” Norris noted. “We did this to ensure the safety of students and our entire campus.”
Leaders at the 194-year-old Baptist college – America’s second oldest – daily seek guidance from God. “We pray before every meeting and continue to pray each day that this situation will resolve itself quickly,” said Norris, who serves as the Graduate School dean.“ In the meantime, we will be prepared.”