CED Staff: Prepping for Fall 2020 Amidst COVID-19
As the University of Georgia plans for the Fall alongside its sister USG institutions, UGA’s programs and departments have been given agency to determine what is best for their spaces. The CED staff have been hard at work with the UGA leadership in preparing CED facilities for a start of the fall semester.
Lee Cornell, IT director of the CED, has been at the helm of the College’s preparations for Fall 2020, rearranging studios, classrooms, computer labs, and common areas. The CED is fortunate to have large studio spaces which allow for relatively uncomplicated social distancing compared with other spaces on campus.
While social distancing mandates have reduced most room capacities by nearly 60% of their typical occupancy, “for the most part all [the CED’s] classes will be what we want them to be,” said Cornell.
Lee and other CED staff have transported, rearranged, and offloaded more than 690 chairs and stools, 410 drafting and non-drafting tables, four sofas, two futons, and a recliner in order to maximize available instructional space in the Jackson Street Building, Tanner Building, Denmark Hall, and the Founders House. Rules set forth by the Provost’s Office ensure that all instructional venues allow for proper social distancing.
Once reconfigured, classrooms will undergo a verification process with the Provost's Office in order to finalize desk counts for each studio and seats for each lecture space.
The CED’s Undergraduate and Graduate Advisors, Martha DeHart and Donna Gabriel, have been rethinking how best to meet with students in the upcoming semester. They are arranging their offices to allow for social distancing and plan to leverage phone and Zoom calls where possible in order to continue to provide guidance while ensuring students’ health and safety.
Owens Library and Circle Gallery
Melissa Tufts, director of the Circle Gallery and the Owens Library, has been rethinking these spaces which are so key to the CED experience. The number of patrons in the library will be limited, but services such as book checkout, research help, computer access, and print and copy will remain available. Scanning services will be increased as needed, while physical reserves will be scaled back somewhat. As always, patrons may return books and other materials (even those that are to be returned to the Main and Science Libraries) at the book drop located near the ADA ramp at the JSB's front entrance.
While no material may be checked out at this time, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to contact Tufts with questions or online assistance. Students, faculty, and staff will continue to have access to millions of resources online via the UGA Libraries website.
The Circle Gallery will have a series of exhibits to inspire, educate, and encourage visitors, but without the traditional reception openings and gallery lectures. Lectures and portions of exhibits will be available online, so stay tuned.
Development and Alumni Relations
Jennifer Messer, Director of Development and Alumni Relations for the CED, continues to connect with CED alumni donors despite moving virtually all communication online. While the situation has prevented Messer from meeting people in person as in previous years, “our donors are incredibly generous and continue to support the CED,” Messer said. CED alumni continue to be there for students through the UGA Mentor Program and by writing letters to incoming students.
Messer remains optimistic. “Throughout this crisis, I have been able to continue connecting with so many who love our College and want to help it grow and thrive. The pandemic has not changed how people feel about UGA or the CED. It has only managed to make us stronger,” she said.
IT Staff are reconfiguring and refitting the Technology Helpdesk to limit face-to-face interaction without affecting the availability of support. Preparations, helmed by Cornell and Tom Jones, are to ensure social distancing while maintaining availability of technical support with the hardware and software that are so key to design work.
The CED’s administrative staff are preparing for a range of eventualities through careful budgeting and event coordination, activities which are seldom seen in the public eye.
Vickie Poole, the CED’s Administrative Financial Director, has developed no fewer than 15 unique budget scenarios. The uncertainty in the upcoming academic year necessitates a budget that can easily pivot in response to shifting circumstances. To that end, Poole has considered a range of possibilities that could impact the College’s financial status. Poole’s work seeks to protect the CED from financial hardship despite uncertainty.
The Lecture Committee, which organizes, publicizes, and facilitates the CED’s annual lecture series, is moving all lectures to an online format. Every year, the CED lecture series features a wide range of lectures from experts from within and without the CED focusing on global issues within environment, design, planning and historic preservation. Though the venue is different this year, lectures will be as informative and impactful as ever. As an added bonus, this year’s audience has the potential to be much larger since the free lectures will be available online.
Public Service and Outreach
The Center for Community Design and Preservation has modified its Findit program to bring its critical functions—including recruitment—online. The Findit program documents historic structures across the state through extensive field work, architectural identification, mapping, and data analysis. In response to the pandemic, student surveyors Anders Yount, Darcie Scales and Elyse Hoganson, CCDP Director Jennifer Lewis, and Professor Cari Goetcheus have been training four new student surveyors via Zoom for the past month.
“The team has become quite close during these screen-to-screen sessions, using Slack on the side to get feedback on building identification as they work from home. They are looking forward to working together in person when research can resume,” Lewis said. Field research in various Athens neighborhoods will resume in the coming days.
This fall, the CCDP’s nine staff and students will implement staggered shifts in order to socially distance within the office. Lewis is exploring virtual alternatives for CCDP’s signature community engagement work, i.e. design charrettes and service-learning studios, based on national models of success. According to Lewis, “We are looking forward to helping CED navigate new ways of partnering with Georgia communities even if we can’t travel. Our beloved orange midcentury chairs are still available for conversations about engagement, and we look forward to collaborating either in person or virtually.”
University-wide preparations include providing cloth masks for all on campus, posting signage to encourage social distancing, training supervisors, installing sanitization stations, and enhancing cleaning throughout campus. UGA’s Coronavirus Information and Resources page is constantly updated with information regarding the upcoming return to campus.
Updates to Follow
The CED is still making final decisions, so keep up with the CED website, emails, and social media for updates. Each and everyone one of us has a critical role to play to promote health and safety across campus. We at the CED would like to recognize our staff and show our appreciation for their dedication to the safety of our CED community and extra efforts toward the success of our College.
From UGA News