Perseverance in the Time of the Pandemic

Don't look now, but the Pepperdine community has already succeeded in responding to the COVID-19 crisis

Silhouette with outstretched arms at sunset

As I have watched my daughter, Megan, transition from a third-year student on Pepperdine's Malibu campus to her virtual classroom at the end of our dining room table, I have come to recognize one tried-and-true fact of life in action.  We control what we can control–no matter the circumstances–and we persevere.

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn't be any different.

Before you read on, please understand that this isn't meant to be another inspirational call to action citing this "unprecedented virus" and encouraging you to "stay safe."  Of course, we are all in this together.  This is a call to examine your perspective, simply because you can.

When the pandemic started closing businesses and schools, the transition was difficult for everyone.  Students felt like they lost a healthy portion of their connections with their friends, their professors, their campus, and maybe even their school.  More importantly, they had to shift the way that they learned at the same time that professors had to shift the way that they taught.

Zoom became a way of life.  Bandwidth became a truly priceless commodity.  And most of us now realize that TV news anchors really can get away with sweatpants and suit coats, because we learned that we only have to worry about what our laptop cameras can capture from the waist up as we join classes, calls, and meetings from the comfort of our couch, bed, or chair.  But here's the thing...

We did it.

The Pepperdine faculty and staff who were at the forefront of the transition from closing a top-50 university's campuses on a Friday, to making the seismic shift to resuming the class schedule online by the following Wednesday, pulled off a genuinely Herculean task in the relative blink of an eye.  And that's not bragging, because the students stood the tallest in making it happen.  After closing our classrooms in March, the Pepperdine community didn't skip a beat on our academic schedule, and students moved forward in their academic careers and in their lives.

Why stop there?

Colleges and universities across the country and around the world are grappling with a range of possible scenarios for the fall term, from continued online learning to campuses functioning normally with students back in the classrooms with their professors.  Wherever we land in the fall, the lesson we have already learned is that we can and will persevere.  Students don't have to be content to hit pause on their studies, because they have already navigated that path during this crisis.  And who handles adversity better than a Wave?

I'm reminded of what genuinely separates Pepperdine University from other schools: Purpose, Service, and Leadership.  No academic community has greater strength of character or faith, and Pepperdine's students, faculty, and staff proved it in the spring semester in the most profound way possible.  We kept our heads; we kept our focus; and we kept our commitment to finish the academic year.  If we could come together to pivot our entire pedagogy in five days and finish the semester on schedule, just imagine what the Pepperdine community is capable of this fall and beyond.