On the Other Side of COVID-19
As Western Kentucky University continues the climb to greater heights, the slope has become a bit steeper. In difficult times, we look for inspiration from others to fuel our own reserves. When actor Tom Hanks tested positive for COVID-19, he wrote “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?” Currently, many of us are living with this day-to-day approach, but Mr. Hanks also can inspire us through some of the characters he has portrayed. In the 1995 film Castaway, Hanks played Chuck Noland, a FedEx worker stranded on a deserted island for four years. He survives the daily strife by looking forward to a future back in Tennessee. In Apollo 13, Hanks portrayed real-life astronaut Jim Lovell, who in 1970 along with astronauts Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, had a moon-landing mission aborted by a life-threatening on-board explosion in their service module. The astronauts worked the problem to survive the moment with the inspiration to return to Earth, where they splashed down on April 17, 1970. The hardships of these fictional and real scenarios were overcome by ingenuity, perseverance, collaboration, and the desire for a better tomorrow. With the collaborative efforts of Our Students, Our Hill, and Our Community and Beyond, WKU will rise to the steeping incline and continue to ascend.
Academia values and teaches information content, process learning, and the so-called soft skills (e.g., leadership, communication, teamwork, problem solving, social and emotional intelligence, work ethic, flexibility, and cultural competence). Consider how the current situation is bringing these values and constructs together for students and employees. Who would have thought a semester ago that by fall 2020 almost all our students and faculty would be familiar with Blackboard and on-line course delivery mechanisms? Faculty have participated in professional development activities and invoked their imaginations to modify courses so students can continue to learn and progress in their degree programs. Students and employees alike must adapt to online-platforms, balance time at home between job and domestic responsibilities, do without numerous activities that typically fill the day, and practice high levels of hygiene – remember - do not touch your face!
The benefit of universal concerns is the search for universal solutions. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) had its emergence in the city of Wuhan, China, but its origin occurred through natural selection. The virus moved from animals to humans, potentially through a market in Wuhan where live animals were sold. Some sources estimate that 70% of emerging infections in humans have their origin in wild animals. Thus, the enforcement of illegal trade in wildlife and stricter rules on such trading could be preventive measures for future disease outbreaks. Common problems drive teamwork.
The global response to the coronavirus pandemic inspires us to consider how other global problems can be solved. Top amongst them for many people is climate change accelerated by anthropogenic activities. WKU strives to be a leader in sustainability and educating our students how to face challenges of a global society. The practices adopted to solve today’s COVID-19 may be useful in handling other issues.
So, in the words of characters played by Tom Hanks, currently, “Houston, we have a problem,” and despite the delay in the start of America’s game, “There’s no crying in baseball,” but remember that although life is “like a box of chocolates - you never know what you’re gonna get,” you should “never give up because you never know what the tide will bring in the next day,” and finally “if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
Hilltoppers, let’s keep Climbing to Great Heights, together!
Bruce A. Schulte, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President-Strategy, Performance and Accountability
University Distinguished Professor
Announcements regarding SP Implementation
WKU Master Plan 2020-2030
A key component of the “Our Community & Beyond” section of the plan, requires us to develop a new WKU Master Plan to guide strategic campus growth and facility upgrades during the next decade.
Download files and view reports about the implementation of the Strategic Plan.
DELO Impact Report 2019
Highlights from the Division of Extended Learning & Outreach (DELO)
WKU AASHE Report 2017
A transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance