Markers on the floor of LSUE’s Acadian Center point out social distancing spaces. The markers were in place for the LSUE graduation ceremony Saturday. (Photo by Harlan Krigan)
LSUE Chancellor Nancee Sorenson (Photo courtesy of LSUE)
LSUE: Smaller campus may be safer
There’s no guarantee, but smaller may be safer and that may be a good thing for LSUE as it starts the fall semester on Aug. 24.
Small class sizes have always been a selling point for Louisiana State University Eunice academically, but in the midst of a pandemic Chancellor Nancee Sorenson thinks there may be safety factor.
“Anecdotally, we know that it is being perceived as a safer place and I think that perception is true,” she said of LSUE.
“We are following all of the CDC guidelines, governor’s office guidelines and LSU system,” she said.
Face coverings are required on the campus and there are guides to social distancing and other measures to battle the coronavirus.
No entity can guarantee it is 100% safe, she said. “But I think we are going to do it. It is certainly easier for us to control our brick and mortar environment and our space than large universities.”
LSUE will open with a mix of in-person and online courses. Students will attend classes on staggered schedule to allow social distancing.
Accommodations will be made for students, faculty and staff to work remotely if needed due to virus concerns, she said.
Enrollment is usually about 3,000-plus students at LSUE and Sorenson believes there may be an increase this fall.
“If it comes to fruition, I think we have the best organized outreach and recruitment plan in probably college history,” she said. “We are managing to metrics. We are using data. We have a team of people that expanded beyond just the official recruiters to assist in this effort. We really developed an all-hands-on-deck approach to outreach and recruitment and that is getting the person from application to enrollment.”
Sorenson said, “We are also going to be starting probably the biggest marketing and communication campaign in college history in terms of the resources we are devoting to it.”
Two-year colleges such as LSUE often experience enrollment increases during economic downturns.
“We know from the local economy that the adult population is going to be larger than in the past — folks that need that up-skill,” she said.
“Honestly, I don’t really see it returning to quote unquote ‘the way it was.’ I just see it evolving into what our future is going to be terms of how we do business and what types of organization and economies will be in demand,” she said.
LSUE acquired more than 100 laptop computers to assist students, she said.
“We are able to outfit our employees and faculty with laptops to allow them work remotely,” she said.
Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding in the spring, Sorenson said LSUE is creating opportunities for its staff and faculty to become more proficient in the virtual teaching environment, she said.
“We have to have student outcomes at the forefront and our faculty really stepped up in an enthusiastic manner to adopt these new strategies,” she said.