SELINSGROVE — Susquehanna University President Jonathan D. Green recently borrowed an idea from a couple of United States presidents.
Like Franklin D. Roosevelt did early in his first term, Green recently offered a “fireside chat,” a message meant to reassure constituents in a time of distress. It was suggested by a colleague and further inspired by a previous national crisis.
“I was 13 when President Carter did a reprise during the energy crisis,” Green wrote. “He had a fireplace burning for television.”
Unlike FDR, who used radio, Green used YouTube as the medium for his message which would follow a general outline and remain conversational.
Students have responded.
“Many of them have shared very kind responses,” he added. “That’s never a goal, but it is a great reminder of how lucky we are to be part of this wonderful academic community.”
Green posted his first five-minute clip last week, acknowledging the support of the university and surrounding community during the current health crisis. Like many colleges, the university opted to clear its campus and conduct classes online only for the spring semester.
The campus has been a lonely place, Green said, and noted he couldn’t wait for students and usual activities to return. He also said the unprecedented events which resulted in the shift were a unique learning opportunity.
“There have been a number of new challenges for all of us over the course of the last two weeks,” Green said. “How have you responded to them? How has this helped to reinforce for you certain priorities?”
Green asked students to look at the behavior of others and think about what to emulate or what not to emulate. Coursework, he said, could also be a forum in view of the current challenges.
“These are events that none of us will ever forget,” he added. “We are facing challenges that the university has never encountered before. Frankly, neither has our broader community nationally or internationally.”
Green suggested first-year students reach out to seniors as it would be good for them to share experiences.
“They’ve been on campus for seven-and-a-half semesters,” he said. “The ways they have responded to this set of challenges and recognized the ways they are committed to the community would be good for them to share some of those values and reflections.”
Green said a student petition to grade courses on a “pass/fail” basis would have to be made by a vote of the faculty. He said a virtual faculty meeting would be held Monday to decide the agenda item.
Green said he hoped for a commencement on campus.