The Charger Blog

School of Health Sciences Committed to Continuing Sense of Community Online

As students continue learning remotely and faculty and staff members work from home, the University of New Haven’s School of Health Sciences remains connected, through regular staff meetings held online and through virtual office hours for students.

May 6, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of School of Health Sciences faculty and staff members.
Faculty and staff members showed off their bandanas in a recent “Tuesday Touch Base” session.

Karl Minges, Ph.D., and Michael Urban, Ph.D. spent a recent Tuesday afternoon outside enjoying the sunshine with their three children – while simultaneously connecting with their colleagues in the University of New Haven’s School of Health Sciences. Faculty and staff members greeted them and their family, “meeting” their new baby through Zoom.

The meeting was one of the School of Health Sciences’s weekly “Tuesday Touch Base” sessions – virtual meetings that enable faculty and staff members to stay connected virtually. They discussed their families and how they were teaching and engaging with students online.

Image of Alvin Tran.
Alvin Tran connected with his colleagues in front of a Parisian background.

“My students write journal entries about what they’re learning,” said Michele Smallidge, Ed.D., RD, a lecturer in the University’s Allied Health Department who introduced her colleagues to her goats, who were feeling a bit camera shy. “They say they can’t wait for us to return to the University.”

Faculty members have made it a commitment to stay connected with their students who are learning remotely this semester amid the global coronavirus pandemic. In addition to connecting with each other virtually using platforms such as Zoom, faculty members are holding “virtual office hours” during which they can interact with students. The “Tuesday Touch Base” meetings provide an opportunity for them to discuss how their online teaching and community-building endeavors are going.

“During my advising appointments with students, they have told me the transition to remote learning has gone well,” said Samantha Morales ’18 MHA, assistant director of the University’s Master of Healthcare Administration program and the School of Health Sciences internship coordinator.

During a recent online discussion, faculty members discussed how they are navigating virtual labs for students this semester, as well as high enrollment and interest in Summer Session courses. They also shared what they have been working on remotely, such as the virtual presentation led by Jess Holzer, Ph.D. during which she discussed cultural differences in healthcare.

Image of enee Garcia-Prajer.
Renee Garcia-Prajer R.D.H., M.S. exploring a Zoom background.

The virtual meetings aren’t all work and no play. Faculty and staff members caught up, shared laughs, and explored different backgrounds available on Zoom, including a forest, aurora borealis, and photos of the University of New Haven campus. They also showed off their bandanas – the theme of this particular meeting. Alvin Tran, Ph.D., who spoke in front of a Parisian background, shared a funny video of his parents making their own face masks.

Summer McGee, Ph.D., dean of the University’s School of Health Sciences whose expertise has been quoted extensively in the media throughout the pandemic, says these meetings – and virtual office hours – are crucial.

“Human connection, even when it is virtual, is more important than ever,” said McGee, who chose the University’s new bronze Charger statue commemorating its Centennial as her background. “We sometimes take for granted how much we need and value our relationships with our co-workers and our students – until we don’t have them any longer. It is vital to maintain these connections online to stay in touch with our humanity, to prevent isolation, and to stay positive.”

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