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Life at Fisher Continues During COVID-19

May 25, 2020

The Office of Freshman Admissions sat down with the Dr. Matha Thornton, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, to learn more about campus life at Fisher, her role as co-chair of the Campus Reopening Task Force, and measures taken to ensure campus safety and continued operations.

OFA: What makes you proud to be a part of the Fisher family?

MT: I am very proud to be part of Fisher family. From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew there was an emphasis on community. Literally, within my first 15 minutes on campus a student, who recognized I was new, welcomed me and promised that Fisher truly lived up to the educational philosophy of the Basilian Fathers’ motto, “Teach me goodness, discipline, and knowledge.”

I appreciate our dedication to education and community. The campus is also beautiful. But during this time, it has become so very clear that what makes Fisher the special place that it is are the people. I am proud to serve this community where everyone is welcome and where diversity and service to others are valued and practiced.

I am also proud to serve on a cabinet that is led by a president with a moral compass I trust and whose first priority is our students and their experience. I am so grateful to be a part of the community that provides a Fisher education that is guided by the liberal arts and provides opportunities for students to learn who they are, what they value, and help them take what they learn about their discipline and themselves beyond Fisher and serve others.

OFA: How would you describe Fisher’s student body?

MT: Of course, students at Fisher have different interests, talents, and aspirations. We have students who are engaged in their research, sports, academic discipline, and community. But there are some values that are consistent across the student body. I have been fortunate to serve students on liberal arts campuses for more than 20 years and the students at Fisher are truly the most kind, engaged, and caring with whom I have worked. The biggest event all year is the Teddi Dance for Love – an event that truly exemplifies the Fisher student. They work all year to raise money for Camp Good Days and they do it wholeheartedly with joy.

OFA: What role has Student Affairs played in the College’s response to the coronavirus?

MT: Student Affairs played a significant role in the College’s response to COVID-19. I serve as the emergency director for our Emergency Response Team. Many members of the team that coordinated the first few weeks on campus, when we were first learning about the pandemic and how to keep the community safe, work on the Student Affairs team. Members of Campus Safety and Security, Residential Life, Dining Services, and the Health and Wellness Center all played a central role. We also worked hard to support students after we moved to online instruction and helped students stay connected while we were no longer physically together on campus.

OFA: Looking ahead, how is the College planning to keep students engaged and safe?

MT: We recognize there will be necessary changes in our campus living and learning environments to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff when we return to campus. The president convened a Campus Reopening Task Force to plan and coordinate our return to campus. The Task Force Steering Committee will provide direction, coordination, and project management to four planning teams: Teaching and Learning, Student Engagement and Success, Campus Operations, and College Relations. The Committee will synthesize the recommendations of the teams and develop a comprehensive plan for reopening campus and ongoing operations.