Forsyth Tech Community College. A place of promise. President's Message. Dr. Janet N. Spriggs.

Hello Forsyth Tech faculty and staff,

Welcome to summer semester!

We are beginning the semester with strong enrollment numbers and that is fantastic news for Forsyth Tech and for our students. After the final schedule release last night, our curriculum summer enrollment is over 8% more than the same point in time last year. This number represents more than 4,000 students who have made the decision to continue on a journey to reach their higher education goals.

Whether or not we gained students due to COVID-19 or in spite of it, we are certainly encouraged that more students are interested in our programs and in the transformational power of knowledge, even as we are forging our Brave New Normal. We have managed virtually through Phase 1 of the Governor’s Stay-At-Home restrictions and into Phase 2 of a transition to the Governor’s Safer-At-Home guidelines, and we have begun a phased approach of bringing students, faculty and staff safely back to campus.

Now, even harder work begins, as we work to help each of these students be successful in the courses they are taking. I’ve said it before but it is worth repeating, I’m so grateful to each of you for all that you’ve done for Forsyth Tech and our students. As Christopher Robin said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

 

We will continue to offer summer curriculum classes remotely for now, but we are bringing some hands-on labs back to campus beginning Monday, June 1. I know there has been some confusion over which classes will be able to stay remote and which will be required to come back for their labs. We have updated our messaging on the Health Alert page on our website, but we are also encouraging students to check with their individual instructors for details about how their course will work.

If you or your students need more information about any of our updates related to how we are handling the COVID-19 situation, please check out the Health Alert page on our website. Please feel free to send your comments or questions to covid-19@forsythtech.edu. Further updates are below. Thank you for taking the time to read!

First COVID-19 Case

Earlier this week, you received notification that we had our first instance of an on-campus Forsyth Tech student testing positive for COVID-19. The student, who is currently in isolation at home, attended class at the Northwest Forsyth Center on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

Please be assured that professionals from the Forsyth County Health Department are notifying any community members with whom the affected student indicates he or she may have come in close contact to advise them of steps or precautions they should take.

We need your help and commitment to safety as well and we remind everyone to continue following the established precautionary steps needed to keep us all safe. While we are not requiring, we are recommending and encouraging everyone, our employees and our students, to wear appropriate face coverings.  We are also following social distancing guidelines and reminding everyone about the importance practicing good hand hygiene. Our primary goal is to ensure a safe on-campus environment for all employees and students.

Moving in to Phase 2 of “Return to a Brave New Normal”

As we move into Phase 2 of our Brave New Normal, we will continue to take precautionary steps to keep us all safe. Even as the state’s restrictions are relaxing, new cases, both locally and within the state, are continuing so we must proceed with caution and care.

It is time for more staff and faculty to return to campus. Staff who are in jobs that are not easily completed at-a-distance are being brought back to campus first, and others are continuing to telecommute for now to decrease the overall number of employees on campuses as we phase back into full on-campus operations. Again, as we create our brave new normal, we will also remain committed to ensuring all of us are safe. Many of our students are anxious to return to in-person classes, but we do not plan to offer lecture classes on campus until July. As mentioned earlier, we will have hands-on labs and classes on campus beginning next week.

Drive-Through Brand Launch Party!

I am excited to let you know about the launch of our new Forsyth Tech brand!

You will recall that the marketing team led a re-branding process that began earlier this year and many of you participated in this important work through various focus groups and other participation opportunities. The consultant that our Foundation engaged to guide our work, delivered remarkable results. We are also grateful the process provided numerous platforms for our college community to share your voice and help us create our new brand identify and a fresh, new Forsyth Tech logo. We cannot wait to share the exciting results with you!

COVID-19 may have delayed the work slightly, but we are now ready to launch our new brand! We are now ready to reveal the new Forsyth Tech logo, tagline, and eager to also share information on the process that yielded the new look and feel that will become Forsyth Tech’s brand.

Please mark your calendars for Thursday, June 25, for the “Brand Launch Party – Drive-Through Style” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in parking lot CC3 of the Strickland Center near Horticulture! You will be able to stay in your cars during this creative drive-thru experience and we will also have lots of giveaways, food, name tags, business cards and huge amounts of fun!

If you would like to get 60 new business cards on launch day, please complete the business card form and return to Coburn Dagenhart in marketing by Friday, June 5. After that you may order cards as normal with your supervisor’s approval.

Travel Form Required for Employees Traveling Abroad

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, maintaining health and well-being of our employees remains a top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, Forsyth Tech is requiring employees who travel to any international location to complete the Travel Form before they depart the country.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jeff Armstrong, Environmental Services Coordinator.

Mask Distribution

If you have not picked up your mask, we will have those on campus when you return. You may pick up in HR on Main Campus – Allman, or check with your manager. Masks will also be available at Northwest Forsyth Center and West Campus. While employees are not required to wear masks, they are strongly encouraged.

Next Facebook Live – Thursday, June 4, 2020

I have been enjoying engaging with our students and with so many of you in the Facebook Live sessions each week. I look forward to continuing these engagement opportunities with our next FB Live on June 4 at 2 p.m. Please join me if you can – I look forward to talking with you and answering your questions.

Be the Change

As we begin the first week of summer term, I will leave you with one last thought for the week in the form of an impactful quote that is in fact, a call to action. I will also ask you to please take time to read the article highlighted below and thoughtfully consider the implications of the author’s predictions on Forsyth Tech.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Most often when circumstances and events happen over which we have no control, the best we can do is manage our reaction and our attitude. Since March, many things happened that we could not control. A global pandemic interrupted our “normal.” The uncontrollable situations we faced, caused us to become more flexible and to quickly adapt by developing and implementing creative, innovative and untested solutions that allowed us to fulfill our mission and advance student success through excellence in learning, completion, equity, and post-graduation outcomes”. I believe we also learned to be more open to new perspectives and less resistant to change.

There is a great deal of conversation and much research aimed at understanding both the short-term and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, including this Inside Higher Education article: Ten Predictions for Higher Education’s Future.  Please take time to read this article.

 

I do not expect that we would wholeheartedly agree with all of John Kroger’s predictions without considering other data and research, but I do believe he provides valid and interesting food for thought. For example, I believe our “competition” looks much different in post-COVID-19 America than it did prior to the pandemic, and I worry that some of the options community colleges could choose would not be their best options. I believe the national debate about the “value” of higher education will be changed and possibly negatively as a result of COVID-19. I believe we face uncertain economic times that will not be easy or quick to “fix.” The implications of all these things and many more conditions created or changed by COVID-19 will inform how we, at Forsyth Tech, continue to advance our mission and vision, and accomplish our Vision 2025 strategic plan goals and outcomes.

This is all part of the brave new normal we are forging together and our entire college community needs to be thoughtfully engaged in both strategic and tactical conversations about the impact of COVID-19 for our future. Our world has changed and predictions suggest more change is yet to come. Our students and our communities are depending on us to lead through the change and continue our work to be a catalyst for equitable economic mobility, empowering lives and transforming communities.

I encourage and implore us all to keep Gandhi’s words front and center as we navigate the days, weeks and months ahead. We will work together to lead and to be the change we wish to see in the world. If we cannot change the whole world, we can be the change for each other, for our students and for our community.

As we think about the need for change in our world, I would not be the leader you deserve if I remained silent about the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this week, and the similarly incomprehensible deaths of so many other black and brown citizens of this country. My heart aches. Since hearing the news, my emotions have ranged from sadness to anger to overwhelming disbelief.

I have thought a lot about how, in 2020, we find ourselves here. I do not claim to know or have the capacity to understand the answer to that question, but what I do know is that we cannot sit idly by and hope for things to change. We spent the past year together talking a lot about equity, creating our shared vision framed by our commitment to equity, and building a strategic plan that includes a bold equity statement intentionally embracing a culture where everyone belongs. Now, we have an opportunity to commit even more strongly and with renewed purpose to building an inclusive environment where every person is valued and respected, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, background or experience.

I am committed to this important work and to the hope that together, we can eliminate discrimination and oppression. Together we can build a brave new world where everyone belongs. Together we can be the change that our world so desperately needs. And together, we can be a model of leadership for all of higher education, a catalyst and a beacon of hope that empowers lives so they can transform communities and be the change that builds a world of belonging.

I am grateful for all of you.

Stay safe, stay well and have a great weekend.

Warm Regards,

Janet Spriggs' Signature

Dr. Janet N. Spriggs

President

Forsyth Technical Community College