ULI Chicago Women's Leadership Initiative Advisory Board Announces New Leadership for FY21
ULI Chicago Women's Leadership Initiative Advisory Board Announces New Leadership
This summer – a very different one indeed – is quickly fading. Take time to enjoy August and we’ll resume Tales From the Front Line after Labor Day.
Cindy McSherry | Executive Director | ULI Chicago
Tales From the Front Line | July 20, 2020
COLLETE ENGLISH DIXON
Executive Director, Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate | Roosevelt University
Read Collete’s Bio
Although this hasn’t really seemed like summer, the days are quickly clicking by and the discussions about fall and the traditional “return to school” are beginning to dominate the press and family conversations. Since the University of Notre Dame opened the discussions in May about what they were considering in order to reopen school in the fall, there have been many articles and op-eds about how universities and colleges are planning to manage their fall sessions. And, as we have seen recently, some of the early plans have been revisited and modified. The takeaway? – no one has “the” answer and no one knows what will really work. So many uncertainties and so many challenges. And that’s before we talk about the fall college football season!
At Roosevelt University, many of the considerations are influenced by the Chicago campus being a vertical campus – 32 stories of a fully integrated college campus attached to a historic 10-story building – a great idea in most circumstances, but a complication when you’re looking at moving students, staff and faculty around using elevators and large common areas. Although our suburban campuses are not as vertical, many of the issues are the same. How to have people interact without adding to the transmission of a virus and how to teach classes like biology, chemistry, dance, music performance, real estate process, food & beverage, classes that often “require” some sort of in-person engagement, remotely or virtually, and effectively? Is there any way to maintain the interpersonal engagement that is a key component of the college experience? Discussions about the issues and the options began almost immediately after we pivoted to remote learning to complete the spring semester. There was hope that the health crisis would improve before fall semester began, but we have been preparing to have a different fall semester from the beginning of the pandemic explosion – the unknown, initially, was just “how” different it would be. Students were surveyed and, as you might imagine, most indicated their desire to be on campus, however, there are concerns from parents and others. Faculty and staff were asked about their comfort with engaging in-person and there was a range of responses. As information, insight, input and feedback were received, virtually every aspect of operating an educational institution in the heart of the city, during a pandemic, was been evaluated through the lens of trying to make the best decisions for the broad range of stakeholders.
Accepting that change is unavoidable, RU is moving forward to execute a fall semester like none before. Some of the plans look similar to how office buildings are approaching the return to work: physical occupancy of the university-controlled buildings will be tightly managed; face masks, temperature taking, and social distancing in classrooms and elsewhere will be required; elevator occupancy limits, overall building occupancy limits, closed water fountains, vast numbers of hand sanitizer stations, classroom occupancy limits, and reduced access to group facilities will be the order of the day. A very minimal number of the fall semester class sessions will not be conducted remotely or online/asynchronously. For any classes that are planned to be F2F, the semester will be completed remotely after Thanksgiving break, which is consistent with the plans at most colleges for the fall. Many of our students are commuter students, so there is the question of how students will get to campus, especially if there are concerns about using public transportation. For students who live outside Chicago, it is uncertain that they will come to Chicago for the semester, especially if Chicago’s virus numbers spike. To address those hurdles, with a very small number of classes requiring in-person attendance, the ability to continue degree pursuit is supported and we are preparing to provide F2F class session participation by remote/Zoom or online, if necessary. Flexibility and ability to respond to changing conditions will be key to managing this unique time.
The challenge of providing quality education and the “college experience” in the midst of a global health crisis has added another layer to the issues facing higher education overall. Unfortunately for the incoming freshman class, which has already lost out on so many of the life events that graduation from high school has typically provided, this fall will likely cheat them of many of the initial college experiences that we all treasured. I suspect that many of the adjustments required to address providing education during a global health crisis may become the “new normal.” Higher education may never be the same.
Before I go, I want to do a shout-out to two legends of the US Civil Rights Movement, Rev. C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis who both passed away on July 17. They were shining examples of commitment, sacrifice and impact. I leave you with a quote from the Honorable Rep. John Lewis: “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble….” May he and Rev. Vivian Rest In Peace.
Senior Managing Director & Director Global Investment Research | Heitman LLC
Read Mary’s Bio
It’s Sunday morning and I have two hours to read the final 50 pages of the book my book group will be discussing today. I picked the book we have been reading over the past six weeks, Dirt by Bill Buford. I based my recommendation on a favorable review in the NY Times and on the arc of the story. The author, a former editor and staff writer for The New Yorker, embeds himself in France, in Lyon, to discover the secrets of French cooking in the gastronomical capital of the world. He does this with his wife, the unsung hero of the book with her own illustrious history in print, and their twin toddler sons. The book promised travel during a lockdown, a cleverly told story and, for me, the dominant provider of food for the family during stay at home, a chance to spend the last minutes of the day on something I can control: what’s for dinner. I interspersed Dirt with Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile. Winston Churchill was deeply flawed but his leadership during the Blitz made me wistful. And the combination of the two books was a bit like French cooking – the acid and the fat, the sweet and the savory.
Sometimes, the book selection inspires comment via email in the run up to the formal meeting. Nothing has come this time. I am hoping that means the others were happy to go on a virtual journey to France with me. We have read widely during our decades together. Some of the choices have filled in gaps among this well-educated, well-read group. How could we all have missed Huckleberry Finn? Or Nelson Algren’s City on the Make? We have mixed fiction and non-fiction, with a bias toward books about Chicago, like Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. We all work or worked in fields related to real estate – urban planning, economic development, investment, banking, and affordable housing. The conversation today will shift quickly from the book to politics, policy, and updates on our kids and the turns their lives and ours have taken since early March. Zoom will replace the in-person visit. I will be drinking coffee and thinking of the meal I would have prepared had we been able to meet the usual way, featuring foods referenced in the book choice.
Tales from the Front Line will be on hiatus until after Labor Day. An August pause – a time to recharge, to reflect. When we start writing again, I hope it will be about a country that’s doing a better job fighting the virus that has felled us for far longer than we had hoped. And one where creativity is being applied to making sure that the country that emerges from this crisis is one we can be proud of.
If you have questions or want to share your thoughts, email us at chicago@uli.