How the quad has moved online to keep campuses connected

We’re all longing for ways to connect,' Bucknell campus leader says

To bring some joy to students isolated by campus closures and stay-at-home orders, Franklin & Marshall College launched a Virtual Quad this spring to host games, workouts and even a 5K.

As soon as the campus closed in March, several campus organizations were ready to shift their events and services online, says Timothy Brixius, a digital and social media strategist who was a lead designer of the Virtual Quad.

The college’s Office of Student Engagement and Leadership created the quad to serve as a hub for keeping students connected.

“As the weeks went on, we had more and more groups chiming in with things they wanted to share and offer,” Brixius says. “We were constantly updating the quad page and posting Instagram stories.”

More from UB: How student groups connect while campuses are closed

“Trivia Tuesdays” has been one of the most popular events on the quad, drawing about 250 students, faculty, staff and others each week.

Franklin & Marshall College students ran in their communities during the school's virutal 5K this spring.
Franklin & Marshall College students ran in their communities during the school’s virtual 5K this spring.

Among the eager participants has been the Student Athlete Leadership Council. Its members hosted a workout series and a virtual 5K that runners could complete in their own communities.

And F&M Unleashed, a student group that volunteers in local animal shelters, held a pet photo contest on the virtual quad.

Brixius and his team are now working out how the quad will function over the summer.

“Groups on campus still want to connect and we also want to reach out to our first-year students and bring them into the fold,” Brixius says.

Bucknell strong

Bucknell Strong grew organically as campus organizations began sharing events, interactive projects and other services on the new website, says Gail Glover, the Pennsylvania university’s vice president for communications.

[VIDEO: A clip from Bucknell University’s community-building video series.]

Launching the site required collaboration between about 30 faculty, administrators and staff members from communications, student life, the library, athletics, IT and advancement, as well as some alumni.

“We also wanted to celebrate the fact that various sectors of our campus are doing things to support our community and broader COVID-19 pandemic issues,” Glover says.

For instance, the Bucknell Strong contains news about the production of PPE and also offers health and wellness tips.

Two popular features have been the community art wall and a community-building video series.

And The Scattered Herd section, created by human resources, offers tips for staff and faculty working remotely.

“We’re all longing for ways to connect,” Glover says. “This hub is an example of all the goodwill and community spirit that’s out there.”

UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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