Walsh’s Ongoing Commitment to Athletics, Experiential Learning, Arts amidst COVID
The Walsh experience is grounded in education that extends beyond classroom instruction. Students are encouraged to participate in global learning programs, service-learning volunteerism, athletics and arts programs with the intent to provide an impactful education that enriches the mind, body and soul. With the impact of COVID-19 causing adjustments in how education continues to deliver unique programming, Walsh has worked to strengthen experiential/service learning opportunities, athletic programming and found creative ways to deliver art and music for student participation.

G-MAC Moves Fall Contact Sports to Spring
With the announcement earlier this month that the G-MAC will postpone fall contact sports until spring, the Walsh community still has much to look forward to as enhancements are completed on a major addition to our athletic complexes. The Larry Staudt Turf Field will now serve as the home field for our Cavalier football, lacrosse, and soccer teams and will be the foundation for a home stadium in the future.  This project was planned and paid for before COVID-19 by targeted donor funds that could not be redirected.

In August, the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) Presidents’ Council postponed the fall championship segments in football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball. The conference schedule and championships in each of these high risk contact sports, as defined by the NCAA Resocialization of Collegiate Sport guidelines, will be moved to the spring season. The Great Midwest is maintaining the cross country championship segment in the fall as originally scheduled. Additionally, engagement in all sports, including golf and tennis competition, will be permitted in the fall by institutions as they are able to meet NCAA, national, and local health and safety guidelines.  

"Our first priority is the health and wellness of our student-athletes but it is our intention to provide our student-athletes with as robust of an experience as is possible and permitted by the NCAA mandates," added Vice President/Director of Athletics Dale Howard. 

The Beat Goes On: Walsh Chorale, Marching Band and Arts Programs Respond
The Walsh University Chorale may look a little different, but their sound is on point thanks to specially designed mask for singers created by the Broadway Relief Project. The masks are only one of many protocols put in place to protect the members of Walsh’s Chorale and Marching Band against the spread of COVID-19.

“There was a study done by the University of Colorado over the summer in conjunction with every arts organization in the world, that was focused on what precautions were necessary according to science to allow us to perform,” said Chair, Division of Fine and Performing Arts; and Chorale Music Director Dr. Britt Cooper. “And so, both our band and choir are functioning on the guidelines put forth by that study.”

According to the guidelines, the Chorale may continue to practice or sing in 30-minute increments, while remaining masked and physically distanced at the required 6-feet. The specially designed cloth masks are constructed with metal braces that allow them to keep their shape, while creating enough space to sing so that the voices resonate properly without sounding muffled. Masks were purchased before the start of the school year for each Chorale member to help promote uniformity and ensure the highest quality of sound.  

The Chorale will continue to hold practices in both the Cecchini alumni arena and then in smaller groups inside the Birk Center for the Arts Dorothy Ling Rehearsal Hall. The Walsh Marching Band will continue to practice outdoors in preparation for spring football. Marching Band restrictions include coverings over wind instruments to reduce the percentage of air aerosols expelled. Both groups are looking into creative options for performances later in the semester, which may include virtual choir concerts, live-streamed events, outdoor concerts or video compilations. Regardless, Dr. Cooper assures there will be a Christmas Concert this year.  

“Whatever we plan, we are doing so always conscious of what the science says we need to do to keep our students and community safe," said Dr. Cooper.

Unfortunately, the stage will remain dark this fall for the Walsh Genesius Players after the unexpected passing of beloved Director Mark Heffernan in March, and amidst COVID restrictions. The group will begin assessing production options closer to the spring semester.  

Exploring New Partnerships to Enhance Global Learning Opportunities
A global perspective has been a part of a Walsh education since the University’s founding in 1960 by the international order of the Brothers of Christian Instruction. With the onset of COVID-19, Walsh was one of the first Universities to bring students home from its global learning programs. During this pause on global travel brought on by the pandemic, Walsh’s Office of Experiential Learning has been hard at work exploring new options and partnerships for the benefit of not only Walsh students, but faculty as well.

Over the years, global learning programs have often centered on the Brothers’ presence in countries such as Rome, Haiti and Uganda. More recently, the University began to explore additional opportunities to supplement its existing programs. Even before COVID hit in March, Walsh had begun to pursue partnerships with other U.S. universities to collaborate on global learning programs and international campuses.

“This is an effective strategy that will offer more location options for our students and faculty, as well as a more diverse portfolio of academic experiences,” said Dr. Rachel Hosler, Associate Dean of Experiential Learning.

In the spring, Walsh signed a partnership with Franciscan University to offer their Austria program to Walsh students. This opportunity will be open to not only our students but also Walsh faculty who aspire to teach globally. The Franciscan campus in Austria is located at Kartause, a restored 14th century Carthusian monastery in the foothills of the Austrian Alps.  Walsh is also in the final stages of a partnership with The Catholic University of America, who have a property in the heart of Rome. An exchange program with Carlow University in Pittsburgh will also afford an opportunity for Walsh students to study in Dublin, Ireland. Additional locations are currently being explored in South Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore. That will be available once our borders open up and we are able to safely travel internationally again.

Even with global travel suspended, Walsh is continuing to dedicate its resources to providing a global perspective and offer educational opportunities that apply to students learning outside the traditional walls of the classroom. These include a project with Associate Professor of Government & Foreign Affairs Dr. Carl Taylor's class to create a voter education and registration drive on campus to prepare for the 2020 election. In addition, Dr. Hosler is working with the Alliance to End Hunger on advocacy training for Walsh's learning community students, while another group of learning community students are researching options on how to develop a water source to the campus farm.