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From the Director

Libby V. Morris

Welcome to the 2020 edition of the IHE Report!

Much has happened in the past year, and, to be quite honest, the challenges have not gotten any easier since the end of March, when we quickly left campus due to the novel coronavirus and the evolving pandemic. As we put this publication together, however, I was pleasantly reminded of the resilience and creativity within the Institute of Higher Education community—our students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Together, we continue to make a difference, and I remain optimistic about the future.

Our residential Ph.D. and master’s programs remain strong, and a record 13 new students joined our Ph.D. program this fall. In January, our Atlanta-based executive doctoral program launched with 16 students. They hail from six states and one international location. While some of our regular fall semester activities are on hold, our core academic programs persist and thrive. Our faculty members are incorporating lessons learned during the rush to online education in the spring to offer enhanced classes this fall combining online, hybrid, and face-to-face formats. We are all now “experts” with Zoom and other meeting and instructional software. When my 90 year old aunt who lives alone told me that she was using Zoom to stay connected with her children and grandchildren, I discontinued any grumbling and said “we can do this.”

Not surprisingly, the Institute staff worked without missing a beat. Throughout the summer, they adapted workspaces, identified and implemented new technologies, and marked off classrooms to emphasize social distancing. They prioritized communication, health and safety, and high standards. Through diligent planning, they have created a welcoming environment conducive to a productive return to Meigs Hall.

Across the summer, our graduate students continued in courses, research, and dissertation defenses. Like us, they were disappointed with social distancing, but they showed commitment and resolve to persevere. Perhaps there has never been a better time to be a student of higher education. The real-time problems and decisions across the landscape of higher education provide countless case studies which can be examined through the lenses of multiple theories, data points, and prior literature and research. I expect amazing analyses for many years to come from our highly talented students and graduates.

As you read through these pages, I hope you will agree that the Institute community continues to encourage each other to greater innovation, achievement, and impact. Our community forges strong and supportive bonds that persist.  Thank you for being a friend of the Institute. Thank you to all who reached out to us during the difficult days of 2020. Your support means more than you know.

We look forward to the day when we will see you in Meigs Hall once again.

With gratitude,

Libby V. Morris | Director, Institute of Higher Education

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University Professor and Zell Miller Distinguished Professor of Higher Education

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