Dr. Dale and EU staff spill the tea about Edinboro University

Category:  News
Thursday, February 11th, 2021 at 6:28 PM
Dr. Dale and EU staff spill the tea about Edinboro University  by Jenna Tupitza

Edinboro students were invited to join Interim President Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson for a virtual “Tea Time” on Feb. 3, from noon to 1 p.m. During the event, members of Edinboro’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) updated students on what’s happening at the university and then took questions. Pehrsson was joined by Jim Dahle (director of safety and risk management), Dr. Terrence Mitchell (chief diversity and inclusion officer), Dr. Michael Hannan (provost and vice president of academic affairs), Shellie Ritzel (interim dean of student engagement), John Hynes (vice president for finance and administration), Angela Burrows (vice president for marketing and communications), Bill Edmonds (vice president for enrollment management) and Amanda Sissem (interim assistant vice president for advancement and the director of alumni engagement). 

Pehrsson, after an introduction, explained she started her new position New Year’s Eve. She’s working between the three different universities planned for integration — Edinboro, Clarion and California — and this creates a busy schedule, but stated, “usually I’m on the Edinboro campus the first two weeks of every month.” 

Pehrsson has been president at Clarion University since July 1, 2018 and is excited to integrate the schools. She told students that this project could take four to five years, and the plan is to keep the Edinboro name and colors as part of the new arrangement. An email sent to EU students on Feb. 5 reaffirmed this, reading, “we are purposeful in our intent to retain the Edinboro, Clarion and California names and to preserve their respective institutional identities, traditions, athletics and unique campus experiences.” It also states that a communications firm will help develop a name for the group of three schools.  

Dahle then joined to inform the students about how the pandemic is currently affecting the campus, as well as about future plans for vaccinations and in-person classes. He reminded students that COVID-19 testing is available on campus via nasal swab and encouraged them to get tested even if it is not mandated for them under surveillance testing. 

Dahle stated that the surveillance testing program is non-close contact testing. Here, a different 10% of students in the required testing groups are mandated to take the COVID-19 test weekly. These required groups include students living on campus, nursing clinical students, athletes, student teachers and ROTC students. According to an email sent to the EU student body on Jan. 19, “Surveillance testing is for individuals who are not experiencing symptoms or have not been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.” The tests are given in the multipurpose room of Lawrence Towers. 

“The university does not have the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dahle explained as he talked about the shortage of vaccines nationwide. Despite this, he hopes to have the entire university community vaccinated by fall. 

Dahle dove deeper into the process of getting the whole campus vaccinated through a four-step method being used across the country. He indicated that Erie County is currently in the first phase, “1A,” where the vaccine is being administered to health care workers, those over 65, and others in high-risk health groups. The next step will be to vaccinate education workers, first responders and more, which is the stage that smaller counties may have already begun. The third step will be to distribute this vaccine to the remaining essential workers. The final step will be to have members of the general community, over 16 years old, receive the vaccine. 

Dahle explained, “if you're not a student that is at high risk, you’re pretty much going to fall into phase two, the general population.” His goal may seem ambitious at first glance, but he pointed out that EU nursing students have already been vaccinated due to their contact with patients. In addition, some student teachers have received the vaccination because of their work location in smaller counties. 

Dahle also encouraged students to take the vaccine if it becomes available to them to help the university reach their goal and allow students back to campus by fall 2021. 

The next speaker was Mitchell, who added a brighter note to the meeting with information about Black History Month. He emphasized all the activities Edinboro will be offering its students to take notice of this important time. These events touch on self-care, social justice, the arts, the importance of Black History Month, and new clubs and studies being introduced.

The academic organizations involved include the brand new chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of African American Accountants, the Latino Business League, and more. Mitchell added that with the plan to merge with Clarion, there will be a new minor available in April called “Black Studies.”  

This minor and all mentioned clubs are open to students of any heritage or race. He said, “they admit everyone, so I encourage everybody to look at those.” He concluded by saying that many more events will come up during March for Women’s History Month and the upcoming Pride Week. 

Hannan then celebrated the classes and students on campus by mentioning that about 40% of campus is restored and open to students. He reiterated Dahle’s intention of having the university return to “near-normal” operations by fall semester. Hannan explained that all in-person classes will also be available online for any students who would prefer not to return to campus for the fall semester. 

Another project that Hannan is working on is renovations for the library. He revealed that the library will “be closed for access for next fall (2021) and spring (2022) semesters, so that construction can get done.” It’s then planned for reopening sometime during summer 2022. Much like during the pandemic, though, there will be access to books and other materials as librarians can bring students’ necessities out of the building to them. Building improvements, according to Hannan, will include new heating and air conditioning systems, new windows, adding more space for individual and group study sessions, as well as moving the university’s main art gallery (Bruce) into the building. 

Knowing that students use the study spaces in the library, he also mentioned that “we will work to make sure that you do have some individual and group study spaces available across campus” to replace them while the building is closed. The library project is funded through the Pennsylvania state legislature and was initially applied for 10 years ago. 

Then, Ritzel shared some of the protocols that students can follow to stay healthy and help achieve Dahle’s goal for reopening the campus. She explained that students must take the daily self-evaluation test (via the EU Shield app) to enter classrooms and centers. “The fitness center is open in Pogue for all students that have paid the student activity fee,” she said. “You do need to log onto ‘IMLeagues’ in order to reserve a time to work out." She also talked about the idea of Zoom fatigue and how the University Programming Board offers small face-to-face events to cure this problem. Ritzel then informed students that they can voice their opinions to the student government about the merging of the universities.

Hynes next explained that he handles many aspects of the finance and budget for the university and that he’s working diligently to use the potential integration to reduce student expenses. 

Burrows then joined the event to answer any questions regarding the new Edinboro.edu website. She also reminded students that the COVID-19 tracker is available for them to monitor the number of positive cases on campus.

Edmonds works with the administration and financial aid. He spoke next, encouraging students to recruit others to attend the university during these hard times. “Students, you are our best recruiter. Here is how you can help out: if you’re having a positive experience here at the institution, you can utilize your social media from where you are.” He also requested, “in times where you may have questions or frustrations, before you post something on one of the social media platforms, contact us, reach out to us and give us the opportunity to address what you are feeling." 

Sissem also joined to talk about graduate students, as well as her partnership with EUSGA to focus on the Student Hardship Fund, graduation gift campaign, the Art 100 campaign, homecoming plans for the fall, and more.

Jenna Tupitza is the Assistant News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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