How wonderful it is to be back on campus! From my office window I see students walking and skateboarding to class, which is an encouraging contrast to last year’s campus ghost town. As I sit in my office with the door open, colleagues and students pop their head in to say hello or ask a quick question. It’s amazing how much the History chair learns from just being on the fifth floor of Park Hall. Twice in the past week people have stopped by with doughnuts. As I said, it’s good to be back on campus.
On Tuesday afternoons I walk down the hall to meet my graduate class in person in the newly refurbished Park 532. Many of you will remember that Park 532 is our main seminar room, with classes from morning to night five days a week. It’s where we host our many events and meetings. It’s the hub of the Department of History.
But the technology in that room had become frustratingly outdated. The computer was slow and unreliable, the projector was balky and the podium was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, an embarrassment for a department that is a national leader in disability studies.
This fall – thanks to donations from alumni and friends – Park 532 boasts a new computer, projector, screen, sound system and ADA-compliant podium. The technology even allows us to hold hybrid classes and events, with some people in the room and others joining via Zoom.
Students are already benefiting from the arrangement. In one graduate course, a student had a minor operation the day of class and couldn’t make it to Park Hall. The faculty member activated the room camera and mic so the student could Zoom in from home. The setup also allows instructors to have outside experts join their classes. Kristin Stapleton invited a Duke University historian to join the Asian Core Seminar to engage in a discussion with graduate students about her new book on nursing in China during World War II.
Thanks to your generosity, our return to campus and our classroom experiences have been even better than we expected.
Erik R. Seeman
Professor and Chair
Next article: Alumni Spotlight: Peter Del Nagro (BA’75)