COVID-19 hit our PhD students especially hard from a variety of angles. The spring break University transition to distance delivery impacted them as both teachers and students. As either teaching assistants or instructors, our PhD students converted their teaching roles to distance delivery with little time to prepare.
I commend their extraordinary efforts. Many attended emergency faculty training sessions, and they all helped us provide a quality end to the spring semester for our undergraduate students. They had to learn new technologies, innovate, and remain patient and flexible with the varying needs of the undergraduate population who were also flung into this new state of uncertainty.
At the same time all of this was happening, courses that our PhD students were taking themselves converted to distance learning, and they had to adjust to virtual interactions with both professors and classmates. Students involved in active research programs had to move those to isolation and suspend studies with live subjects. Fortunately, a lot of business research is conducted in a normal office space. Collaboration with faculty mentors continued online, and final dissertation defenses took place over Zoom with faculty providing support virtually.
Our PhD students had to tackle these unprecedented challenges while following “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders; many were far from friends and family. Through all of this, our students performed remarkably. They taught well, passed their courses, continued to make research progress, and 12 of them successfully defended their dissertations during this crisis.
None of the graduating students expected to complete their PhD journey that way. Their resilience in this time of crisis will prepare them well for future upheavals they encounter during their careers.
PhD Program Director