dispatches

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Pandemic Planning

Students started spring classes in January the same way they spent the entire fall semester: online. But the remote learning was only for one week—long enough for students to arrive, quarantine, and be tested (twice) for the coronavirus. After that, classes were set to continue in a range of formats—some in campus classrooms (though socially distanced and with masks required), some online, and some using a combination of in-person and online.

It was a step toward normalcy in a decidedly not-normal academic year. Another was the reopening of the residence halls to more students: About 900 students are living on campus this semester—more than triple the number from the fall, but still below the capacity of 1,700. Dining options have been expanded to include more grab-and-go meals, and students are using an app called GET Mobile to order online;  The Diner is also open for seating, but at reduced occupancy. Meanwhile, Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services is operating a testing pavilion on the Event Lawn between Thomas Hall and Warner Gym. All students, including those living off-campus in the Tacoma area, are being tested for COVID-19 twice a week (versus just once a month in fall 2020). Faculty and staff members also are being tested, based on the nature of their work and how often they’re on campus.

The school is prepared to pivot back to more remote operations if conditions war-rant, but with vaccines being rolled out, officials are hopeful. Meanwhile, “the virus will clearly be with us for some time,” President Isiaah Crawford told students in a letter in December, “but as a campus community we have demonstrated that we can move forward as safely as possible when we adhere to the rigorous safety protocols we have in place."

Sports, Interrupted

The pandemic disrupted fall and winter sports, but at press time, student-athletes in nine sports were beginning shortened seasons. Football is expected to play a four-game schedule in February and early March, while men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s basketball will have 12-game seasons, and swimming and volleyball have similarly abbreviated schedules. Competition is limited to Northwest Conference schools in Washington, as Oregon has stricter coronavirus guidelines. Family members and fans can’t attend, but the athletics department will stream many of the events at portal.stretchinternet.com/ups. Student-athletes who participate in the shortened seasons won’t lose any eligibility—so, for example, current seniors can return in 2021–22 for one more season.

Welcome, New Trustees

Last spring, the board of trustees elected four Puget Sound alumni to join their ranks: Mitzi Wilson Carletti ’78 (Seattle), Justin Graham ’90 (Mercer Island, Wash.), Scott Higashi ’91 (Honolulu), and Sarah Watson Lee ’94 (Tacoma). Carletti was already an emerita trustee, having previously served from 2010 to 2019. The board also bestowed emeritus status on two former members in 2020: Bruce Hart P’09 and Lyle Quasim ’70, Hon.’05.

Numerical Order

The pandemic has kept one sector of Puget Sound staff especially busy: the Technology Services staff. Here’s a look at what they’ve been up to.

  • 3,656: Service Desk requests handled by Technology Services last fall (up 13% over the previous year)
  • 100: Ed Tech workshops and student support meetings
  • 68,600: University meetings held virtually
  • 23,603,304: Minutes spent by students, faculty, and staff on Zoom (nearly 45 years’ worth)

Newly Named

Cara Frankenfeld, courtesy of Cara FrankenfeldCara Frankenfeld has been hired as director of the new master’s degree program in public health. Frankenfeld, who has a Ph.D. in epidemiology from University of Washington, had been associate professor and director of graduate studies at George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services. Trustees approved the new degree program in 2020; it aligns with Puget Sound’s strategic plan, Leadership for a Changing World, anticipating a growing need for public health professionals nation-ally. The two-year program will accept its first students in fall 2021.

Remake the World

The university is sending newly admitted students something different this year: It will ask each student to choose one of five local nonprofits, and will donate $5 to that charity in that student’s name. The “Remake the World” initiative is aimed at giving the Class of 2025 a head start on cultivating a sense of community engagement.

Seen and Heard

Chemistry professor Dan Burgard was recognized by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust with the prestigious Swanson Scientific Award for his work in wastewater research.

President Isiaah Crawford spoke with University Business in December about his hopes for the future of higher education.

Puget Sound’s use of ePortfolios—online spaces for students and faculty members to showcase their academic work—was recognized by the Association of American Colleges & Universities.

Going to Graceland

Ki`ilani Arruda '24, courtesy of Benjamin AskinasOn a soundstage at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, with “Pocketful of Rainbows” by the King himself playing in the background, first-year Puget Sound student Ki`ilani Arruda was crowned Miss Teen USA in November. The former Miss Hawai`i USA has competed in pageants the last two years. “What I love about [the competitions] is that women are empowering women to reach their fullest potential,” she says, “and the pageant provides so many opportunities for young women all over the world to do amazing things.” Since her younger brother’s diagnosis with autism at age 2, Arruda has become an advocate for autism awareness and holds a registered behavior technician license. She’s studying molecular and cellular biology on a pre-med track and minoring in Spanish.

A Bounty of Birds

Cover image of Field Guide to Birds of WashingtonMany birds found in Washington state have a distinctive appearance, but perhaps none more than the black oystercatcher, which former Slater Museum of Natural History Director Dennis Paulson likens to “a crow carrying a firecracker.” An oystercatcher graces the cover of Paulson’s new book, Field Guide to Birds of Washington (Scott & Nix, 2020), which includes information about—and photos of—the 308 species found in the state, along with a checklist and a detailed map.

Coming Soon

The search committee for a new vice president for institutional equity and diversity is expected to start interviewing candidates in February. It’s a national search, with the hope of having a new VP named this spring; Sunil Kukreja is serving as interim chief diversity officer in the meantime.

Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead, courtesy of Chris CloseTwo-time Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Colson Whitehead shared funny and self-deprecating stories about his career, told of the 2014 newspaper story about the infamous Dozier School in Florida that led to his book The Nickel Boys, and read a passage from that book during the Susan Resneck Pierce Lecture. The event, originally scheduled for last May on campus, was moved to October and took place virtually instead, with about 350 people watching. Whitehead also met the following day with students in Priti Joshi’s English 229 class, Introduction to Creative Nonfiction.

Logger Day Challenge

The 2021 Logger Day Challenge is set for March 9, with details to be sent via email soon. In last year’s challenge, more than 1,500 members of the Puget Sound community—including more than 60 alumni classes—raised $228,902 over a 24-hour period. Funds raised will benefit scholarships, faculty support, and academic programs.