by Pamela Toney
This has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. Starting with COVID-19 shutdowns, followed by protests against injustice, fires in Colorado and the West, hurricanes in the South and East, and on top of it all a polarizing election year. People are stressed, overwhelmed, and simply exhausted.
Despite all that swirling negativity, I have incredible hope for our country. This is not because of who has been elected at any level within our government or any specific policy or initiative, but because of who we are as people, a nation, and as a larger collective when we come together. What makes this nation so great are our freedoms, especially our freedom of speech. We have the ability to disagree with each other — and our leaders — to make our voices heard and seek change and forward progress.
I have been especially impressed with the work I have seen within the CSU Global community this year and over the last few months. First, our students have continued to persevere through their personal and professional challenges to continue their education. With their own children moving to remote learning and changes in their jobs, we continue to see high registration in classes as they seek to be a part of the solution. They are advancing their own technical and leadership skills to contribute at a higher level within our economy and workforce. This has been done with respectful civil dialogue in our courses, critical thinking on complex topics, and the application of knowledge within their current positions to start driving toward the change they want to see through their daily lives.
Second, it is the support and dedication of our amazing staff and faculty that have made that possible. They are not only providing their usual superior service to our students — despite dealing with the same issues and concerns in their own lives that they are helping our students through — but also looking for new solutions for their changing needs. From advocating for extending deadlines when students aren’t able to get a transcript from a school that is currently shut down to exploring all financial options for students who lost their jobs or educational benefits at work because of the pandemic, that innovative thinking with an unwavering eye on the best interest of our students is how we will continue to move forward.
Speaking of innovation, our dedication to continuing to meet the needs of a changing workforce is a top priority for the university. About 30 million Americans remain unemployed—and Strada Education reports that 59% of those still with jobs are worried about losing them. Our academic leadership is developing future-facing programs in areas where employment continues to be on the rise. From cybersecurity and artificial intelligence to healthcare and military wellness, CSU Global is serving its mission of creating education with a return on investment in new areas of growth and development.
I understand that these times are difficult and everyone is dealing with a lot of emotions, stress, and uncertainty about the future. However, I have hope for our future through the small acts of kindness and in what I’ve seen in the passion and tenacity to make a difference. Even more importantly, we have an intentional plan to be part of the solution through finding a middle ground and learning from the past, to build a better future together.
Pamela Toney, MBA, is president of Colorado State University Global, the nation’s first fully accredited, fully online public university.