March 29, 2021 at 1:45pm
Dr. Jim Reynolds, President

"What I've discovered in the intervening seven months is that Millikin is a resilient place"

Without a doubt, 2020 will be a year not soon forgotten. There were many challenges, but the local Decatur, Ill., community is confronting those challenges head-on and gradually seeing life return to "normal."

In a guest column from the Herald & Review, Millikin University President Dr. Jim Reynolds shared his thoughts on how the university is adapting and thriving amid COVID, and discussed the resilience of the community as it overcomes these challenges and continues moving forward.

Millikin President Jim Reynolds

Last March, Millikin University, like almost all other institutions of higher education, was forced into a model of education that we had not planned to implement all at once. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding the transmission and severity of the virus, Millikin sent students home and converted the entire curriculum for every student into an online experience. 

The early days of the pandemic were marked by concern for the welfare of our students and our community, incredible work performed under difficult conditions by our faculty and staff, and serious conversations about how we would make the online model of education work. The days were long and not much time was available for reflection or consensus building.

I arrived at Millikin last July as the new president, just in the midst of the rising number of confirmed cases and increasing mortality across the United States. What I found on my arrival was a dedicated group of people who were determined to create a return to campus plan that was safe, science-based, and adhered to the public health guidelines of mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. 

Each Wednesday, I was privileged to be a part of discussions with other senior administrators where we reaffirmed our plan and made sure our execution of the plan was sound.

What I've discovered in the intervening seven months is that Millikin is a resilient place. Every member of our campus community has taken great care to be part of a culture of compliance, assuring that we can continue to be open for our students. 

Our success in providing in-person, on-campus instruction is related in large part to the adaptability of our students, staff and faculty. 

Despite the issues that we all have faced due to the pandemic, I have confidence that Millikin will continue to be a beacon for our community. In the coming months, we will slowly return to more normal campus operations with the richness and vibrancy of the campus programming providing opportunity for our students and members of the Decatur community. 

I have come to believe that the lessons we were forced to learn during the pandemic will be of significant value for our future and that we all will have gained something of value, even during a time of great loss.