My name is Maryanne Ward and I am the new President of Coastal Senior College. Many CSC members know me as a faculty member teaching courses on 19th century British literature and as an occasional voyager to ancient Greece with Homer’s Odyssey. I am also the self-styled Chief Detective on Mystery Mondays. When I left my position as Academic Dean at Kenyon College I swore I would never leave the classroom again, but when the board asked me to accept the nomination to be president I could not say “no.”
I want you to know that this organization is staffed entirely by dedicated and talented volunteers. They always say “yes” to requests for more work and do it with good will and extraordinary care. From the moment that a new faculty member is recruited to the time when you receive your catalogue with a new course in it, your friends and neighbors have put their expertise to work in order to present another term of challenging offerings. I emphasize these traits because they are crucial to CSC as we embark on this next phase of our voyage together. In the future, please watch for opportunities to volunteer to help us be better than ever.
At CSC’s meeting in April, the board of directors unanimously voted to start the process toward independent status, but — as in an epic voyage — sometimes the timing is decided by outside forces. This vote coincided with the pandemic storm that hit near the beginning of CSC’s spring term. Reluctantly, we made the decision to cancel all spring classes. It’s been all hands on deck as we navigate both covid-19 changes and our transition.
Where are we now? Our ship is in drydock for a complete refit. For our fall term, we are planning a shakedown cruise with our current members and intrepid instructors. We fully intend to be shipshape by the winter term and to welcome aboard new and renewing members.
Currently, the Faculty (crew) is learning how to teach effectively using Zoom until we know that it is safe to return to face-to- face classes. We’re also trying out new software that will allow us to do online registration perhaps as soon as Winter term. Even when we do return to the classroom setting, having Zoom at our disposal will free us from the worries about snow days in Winter term. This past winter I had two snow days to make up and I foolishly said that it was now too late to snow — enter covid 19. In the future we can move seamlessly to Zoom in the case of a weather delay. We can also use Zoom for occasional lectures when that format seems appropriate.
As Kenyon’s academic dean for several years I not only was involved in classroom academic administration, but also the maintenance of academic facilities. Now I am President of CSC which operates out of a virtual office and, instead of maintaining our own facility, we make use of donated and rented spaces which bring us out into the community and connect us with other organizations.
Those of you who know me know that I try not to take myself too seriously. As I began writing this letter a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan popped into my head. “Stay close to the coast and never go to sea/ And you will be the Ruler of the CSC.”
I am looking forward, as I know you are, to a return to normal, but for us it will be a very new normal.
Stay safe and stay connected to CSC,