Messages from the Dean regarding COVID-19

April 24, 2020

You have made it to the end of the semester. Only finals remain in Spring 2020. I hope that you feel a sense of accomplishment in how you have persevered during a season of challenge and upheaval. 

Have you missed seeing the budding leaves in Sanford Natural Area behind Holmes Hall? I certainly have. Have you missed walking down the halls of Holmes, running into friends and faculty members, consulting with advisors, and saying hello to Doug on the way into the cafeteria for lunchMe too. But these wonderful memories are the evidence of our rich lives together, as members of a residential college. We surround one another with support. We are there for one another. True, it’s science that brought us together. But it’s our strong community that keeps us here. 

And now, as we prepare to celebrate the commencement of nearly 400 graduating seniors, my mind starts to turn to the newest Briggsies, those incoming first-year students who will join us in August. Late April is when high school seniors make their college decisions, and many are choosing Lyman Briggs. I wonder how we can provide community for them even now, even as we are remote. I welcome your suggestions at lbc@msu.edu. 

I encourage you, after you have that last test taken or that last paper submitted, to take a moment to celebrate how far you have come this semesterCapture your journey - perhaps with a few thoughts in a journal or even a letter to a friend or relative. This is a historic season and it is important to mark your time, and what helped you endure. 

I hope you will stay connected with us throughout the summer. Take a deep breath. You did it, and we are so proud of you. 

Sincerely,

 Michele Jackson signature

Dean Michele Jackson 

 


 

April 17, 2020

I have been thinking this week about the social media craze of “30-Day challenges.” Well, next week, Spartans will have completed an unexpected 30-day challenge. It’s hard to believe that it was just a month ago that we stopped seeing one another on campus.  

I believe Briggsies have risen to the challenge. Back in those first few days, we were unclear how the situation in the world would unfold in our own lives. I encouraged us all to stay engaged, focused and connected. I asked us lean on our strengths, to remember our commitments to one another and to move forward with resolve, patience, and a determination to succeed.  

Now, a month later, as we approach the last week of classes, look at what we have accomplished together! We have done what I hoped and so much more. Our classrooms—although now virtual—remain filled with discussion, engagement, inquiry and learning. Relationships across the college have strengthened, as we have come to learn more about one another as individuals and as we extend gifts of care, grace, and gratitude.  

Briggs has always been about learning in community. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken that from many of us. For some of us, it has taken tragically. But the situation has given us something as well: confidence that Briggs students are equipped for whatever the future may bring, whether back in East Lansing come fall or wherever the next stage of life may bring them.

Go Green!

 Michele Jackson signature

Dean Michele Jackson 

 


April 10, 2020

I have seen a lot more of my cat recently, in part because the room I’m using as my office has three windows. I can tell she is frustrated, though. Earlier this week, all of the windows were wide open, letting in sweet scents of the outdoors. Yesterday, they were shut tight to keep out the snow.  

Even the weather is uncertain.  

Into the fifth week of stay-at-home, our family has settled into routines that bring some stability to our daily lives. Perhaps yours has as well. I’m mindful, though, that this isn’t true for everyone. You might be facing ongoing challenges because you are away from campus. Although you are away from us, you are not alone. Please continue to reach out to your advisorsyour faculty and your peers. Stay connected with us. Stay connected with one another.  

My goal is to welcome each one of you back in the fall. Except the graduating seniors, of course! One of the things that saddens me most about upending our semester is that we cannot host our traditional commencement ceremony. Despite this, we are determined to celebrate our graduates. We are developing some ideas to do that and will share those soon.  

As much as we are all concentrating on finishing this semester strong, it is also important to be thinking about your plans for next year. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to speak with an advisor or with a Peer Advising Assistant. Make sure you take the time to register for next year’s classes.  

The situation we are in now will pass. Soon enough my cat will have the house back to herself. And we will all see one another again in the halls and classrooms of Holmes.  

Kindly,

 Michele Jackson signature

Dean Michele Jackson 

 


 

March 27, 2020

Events of this past week are bringing new challenges to many of us. In Michigan, an order to shelter in place is upending many lives. We face not only more pressures, but new pressures we had not even considered before.  

In the face of these, how do we persist on those things that are important to our future, even if they seem to be overwhelming today?  

First, we remember that we are not alone. Social distancing is about physical location. It doesn’t mean we break our bonds of commitment to one another. In fact, it means we draw on them more. I hope you will join our Peer Advising Assistants on April 6th for a Zoom conversation to reconnect with your peers and consider how to maintain stability in unprecedented times.   

If you are interested in helping the college decide how to build even more support, I invite you to become a member of our student advisory council. Just send an email to lbc.dean@msu.edu to let me know you are interested. Starting next week, you will find more information on our website about what we are discussing and how you can be involved. This is your college. Contribute your ideas to it!  

Second, to persistwe remember that we still have choices and can act in line with our values and our goals. For example, I am very pleased that MSU has made it possible for students to choose to change the way they are graded by creating an S/NS option. Choosing an “S” grade in a course might make some of you anxious. You have high standards for yourself – does taking an “S” mean you are lowering them? Absolutely notYou are an exceptional student, to be sure. But these are even more exceptional times, and this could be the right decision for where you are right now. Take time to think, consider implications, and ask advice from your advisor. 

Now, more than ever, the Briggs commitment to acting to make a positive difference is so important. I was proud to see the work of Dr. Jeff VanWingen, alumnus and family physician in Grand Rapids, who has created several PSA videos on sanitizing groceries and takeout food containers. Hgave a shout-out on LBC’s Facebook page, writing, “To all my LB colleagues, we are uniquely trained to use science. But at LB we also learned to contextualize science within history, communication, humanities, etc. This is the stuff that is going to help us to be champions in this challenging time!” This is what Briggsies do 

This brings me to the third thing we do to persist in these challenging times: we remain optimistic. As Dr. Norm Beauchamp, MSU executive vice president for health sciences and Lyman Briggs alumnus, says, when we take our situation seriously and when we work together, we can be optimistic about good outcomes. 

Each of us will find different ways to remain optimistic. For me, it is finding joy in the things that remain constant despite the many changes in our lives. Our household has been a little bigger these past weeks, as my daughter and her family have been unable to return to their lives in Europe. As we navigate their new reality, our grandson happily reminds us to be present for one another now and to realize each day is momentous. His first birthday is tomorrow. 

Stay Connected. Stay Involved. Stay Optimistic. 

 Michele Jackson signature

Dean Michele Jackson 

 


  

March 20, 2020

You have now completed your first full week of remote learning. I am proud of the resilience you have shown in adapting to the new learning environmentI am also proud of our innovative instructors, advisors and staff who have also adapted to continue to support your success. Consider sending an email or message to let them know how you appreciate their efforts. We’re in this together. 

I recognize that just as our instructors did not plan to teach in this way, you did not choose to learn in this way. It is essential that we all stay engaged and curious during this time. You are doing so well, but I know it can be stressfulBe sure to reach out when you need help. Take an extra moment to connect with a friend or an instructor. 

To help you and your family keep informed, you will find a set of Frequently Asked Questions on LBC’s website. We will keep updating it as more information becomes available. If you have questions or suggestions for additional information to include, please let us know at lbc@msu.edu 

As a small college community, we care about your well-being and not just your academic success. I hope you are being kind to yourself, taking breaks from social media and news, exercising, and getting adequate rest. (The CDC has curated helpful tips for coping with stress at this time.) 

Stay connected, 

 Michele Jackson signature

Dean Michele Jackson 

 


March 13, 2020

Under President Stanley’s steady leadership, offices across MSU are coordinating to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and employees. The next few weeks will be a challenge for all of us. Let us work together to face the situation with patience, appreciation, and a commitment to succeed.  

Every glance at the news brings another announcement of a disruption to ordinary lives – the cancellation of events and programs, the closing of other educational institutions, schools, and care facilities, the disruption of supplies, restrictions on travel. I empathize knowing that we are each affected in personal and individual ways. Please know that everyone at Briggs is here to support our students 

Students should have, by now, received word from each of their instructors on changes to their course activities and assignments over the next few weeks. I am so appreciative of the incredible effort made by LBC instructors over the past two days to adapt their plans and prepare new ways to deliver materials and engage our students in learning 

What is your part in this? We are still Briggsies. We remain engaged and focused. We know the importance of study and of learning. Be an active participant starting now and continue to be engaged over these next several weeks. Check your email regularly! Ask questions! Respond in a timely way. Speak up when you need something. Share when others need something. Be generous with one another.  

You are a Briggsie and you belong. 

Michele Jackson signature 

Dean Michele Jackson

 


March 11, 2020

As a community we are responding to the March 11 statement by President Stanley, suspending face-to face instruction until April 20, 2020 in order to mitigate risks related to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. As Dean, I know I speak for our faculty, staff, and advisors, when I say that the safety and well-being of our students is our top priority.  

In the face of this challenging situation we remain committed to high quality learning experiences for our students. We know how important it is to remain in communication with our community and to move forward in a coordinated, calm, and patient manner.  

Here are some important decisions that I’ve made so far and that are now in effect: 

  • LBC-sponsored face-to-face events and gatherings scheduled between March 11 and April 20 are cancelled or will be postponed, including future- or admitted- student visits, special guest speaker sessions, and workshops. 
  • Briggs instructors are developing alternate methods of teaching and will be in contact with students in their courses with details. 
  • Briggs advisors are developing alternate methods of advising. 

The MSU campus will remain open during this time. Students may opt to practice social distancing by returning to their permanent residences, or may stay on campus, including those Briggsies who stay in Holmes. Dining services will still be available.  

MSU set up a toll-free hotline to help address questions from our students, faculty, staff and parents: (888) 353-1294.

Let us strive to remain engaged and connected to one another during this time. We promise to be in regular communication as the situation unfolds. Together we will maintain a healthy, connected, small college environment for science-minded students, even should we be thousands of miles from one another.  

Thank you for all you do for one another,  

Michele Jackson signature

Dean Michele Jackson