We kicked off our fall semester at Dalton State College earlier this month, and we are fully open.
It is a stark contrast to last year. We were on campus for the 2020-2021 school year, but classes were hybrid due to distancing requirements, and many activities shifted to virtual.
Now, campus is buzzing with full classes, activities on the quad and at the fire pit, meetings and professional development and more.
We’ve had a really tough ride since March 2020, and I am braced for the difficulties to continue this fall. Nevertheless, at our campus assembly for employees before the start of fall semester, I challenged our faculty and staff to re-commit to our institutional mission, vision and values as we transition to a more normal campus environment.
We are asking our employees to remember why they chose to work at Dalton State in the first place and to recommit to that work, while recognizing the challenges they face.
I shared an excerpt from Amanda Gorman’s most recent inaugural poem:
"Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division …"
She ended with:
"… When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
if only we’re brave enough to be it"
Are we, at Dalton State, brave enough to see the light and to be the light we all need in this world? Are we brave enough to be what our students need us to be, what our community needs us to be? Are we brave enough to believe we can provide a top-quality education, even during a pandemic? Do we believe in our students?
I believe whole-heartedly we care enough to do the right thing. I believe in our students and in our employees. We like to brag we “Run Boldly!” at Dalton State. We will do what we need to do to operate safely together. Of all our limited resources, our human resources are the most valuable.
This past week, the city of Dalton and Dalton State co-hosted a vaccine clinic. Later this fall, Dalton State will be offering COVID-19 and flu vaccines on campus. We will release more information closer to the time of these clinics.
I challenge you to be brave enough to do what is needed to keep our community safe while continuing to support our local businesses and schools.
Please get a COVID-19 vaccination if you are able and wear a face covering when you cannot distance from others indoors. You can help us protect our campus and greater Northwest Georgia communities so we can push forward with the things that matter most to us all.
Margaret Venable is president of Dalton State College.