Months before the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was announced in Indiana, the University of Indianapolis was planning a strategic response. The Coronavirus Task Force ensures the University’s ability to continue serving our communities during the crisis. From donating personal protective equipment for first responders to determining alternative delivery methods for courses, our faculty, staff, and students have contributed to countless innovative ways to carry on the University’s mission.
A vital community anchor
University Heights residents were delighted to receive care packages from the University of Indianapolis in April. The initiative, organized by the Coronavirus Task Force, connected students with the opportunity to assemble and deliver 200 care packages to our neighbors.
“The University of Indianapolis has long been recognized as a southside anchor, and we care deeply about the well-being of our community,” said Andy Kocher ’98 ’15, associate vice president of alumni engagement and Coronavirus Task Force chair. “With that responsibility in mind, we were looking for ways to support our neighbors and provide them with resources to help them cope during the crisis.”
Social distancing measures were put in place for the student volunteers, who worked in shifts to assemble the masks and organize each package. The packages contained a mask, cookies donated by Books & Brews, flower seeds, snacks, and a resource care guide with 24/7 support numbers.
An ongoing partnership between the University, Community Health Network, and the South Indy Quality of Life Plan addressed the issue of food insecurity in the South Indy area. Organic produce grown in the University’s community gardens was distributed to residents during the summer. University of Indianapolis students are working in the gardens as they learn about important health concepts such as food insecurity and community organizing.
Protecting our first responders
As regional healthcare providers faced critical shortages of personal protective equipment, the School of Nursing was mobilizing to help. The School donated supplies to area hospital networks including 8,500 pairs of gloves, 30 surgical gowns, 450 surgical masks, 150 thermometer probe covers, and 10 stethoscopes. The School also notified their glove supplier that they would be forgoing their monthly shipment and requested that the company pass them on to those in greater need.
James Emery, laboratory manager for mechanical systems in the R. B. Annis School of Engineering, used 3-D printers to manufacture 50 face shields for St. Vincent Indianapolis emergency room healthcare workers. Paul Talaga, assistant professor of engineering, used 3-D printers to manufacture 100 “ear savers” for healthcare workers at four Indianapolis-area hospitals. The device attaches to the elastic straps of a face mask to alleviate discomfort.
Ensuring opportunities for students
When COVID-19 restrictions prevented nursing students from completing the required clinical hours in person, the School of Nursing worked to provide virtual simulations for the remainder of the semester.
“Our graduates will be entering the workforce at a critical time to alleviate staffing shortages that COVID-19 will cause within area hospitals,” said Norma Hall, School of Nursing dean. “The knowledge and skills our nursing graduates gained at UIndy will be taken into the workforce to care for the sickest of the sick at a time of great need. I couldn’t be more proud of our faculty and students for remaining flexible and resilient during these trying times.”
Flexibility and creativity were on full display as faculty crafted alternate delivery methods for typically hands-on learning experiences. WICR-FM, the University’s student-run radio station, remained on the air throughout the pandemic thanks to some out-of-the-box thinking and a lot of collective hard work. General Manager Scott Uecker arranged for a limited crew of student staff and volunteers to coordinate voice tracks submitted remotely by 45 students from five states and three countries.
“This experience has prepared me professionally by letting me know that newscasts can be produced from home instead of only being delivered at the station. Not only are we delivering remote newscasts but so are news stations across the country. This shows how much technology has really prepared us all for crises,” said Taylor Woods ’21 (electronic media communication major, political science minor)
In the Department of Art & Design, Katherine Fries, assistant professor, migrated her printmaking classes to an online format during the pandemic. The content of her classes stayed the same, but the projects were adapted for functionality. Plans for a complicated carving now involved scissors and foam material, for example. Fries said there was a valuable lesson for students pursuing art therapy or art education: don’t dismiss materials that are accessible and affordable.
There is a valuable lesson for students pursuing art therapy or art education: don’t dismiss materials that are accessible and affordable.Katherine Fries, assistant professor of art & design
In the School of Education, Dr. John Somers, associate professor of teacher education, and Dr. Nancy Steffel, professor emerita of education, worked with partner school districts to support their students and teachers as they transitioned to e-learning. In turn, they showed elementary education students how to create lessons on their respective learning management systems. Dr. Angie Ridgway, professor of secondary education, and her son Nate Ridgway ’14 (history and special education), offered support for K-12 teachers from across the country related to their need to transition to remote learning and remote teaching.
BE THERE FOR OUR HOUNDS AND MAKE AN IMPACT TODAY!
The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating not only for communities around the world, but also financially debilitating for so many families. Many students are now reconsidering whether or not they will be able to attend UIndy, or continue their education. As a result, there is a significant increase in the number of students needing additional aid.
The Impact Hounds Now Scholarship Fund was created to provide financial assistance for incoming and returning University of Indianapolis students who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Gifts large and small can make a tremendous impact; for some, receiving an additional $500 to $1,000 in aid can be the key to changing their financial outlook enough to continue their education at UIndy. Please consider how you can impact the future of a Greyhound with a gift to this fund.
Learn more at uindy.edu/giving