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From University to Home: Adapting to Change in Our Daily Lives

From University to Home: Adapting to Change in Our Daily Lives

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Nationwide, all aspects of higher education were forced to quickly adapt to the deep and widespread changes necessitated by mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. While the movement to work from home has impacted all of us differently, I’m proud of what we have collectively accomplished at American Public University System and in higher education as a whole. By making the decision to “social distance” and then “work remotely,” I believe we minimized the potential spread of the virus to all of us.

Change and challenge are two words that sometimes work well together and sometimes work against each other. We, as a collective team, have done well in that regard. Planning and executing the transition to home wasn’t easy, but we managed it. Our infrastructure maintained continuity and scalability as we work to support other organizations and introduce new resources such as a new scholarship for displaced students.

Our university advisors and staff are answering nearly every call, responding to emails, working with partners, and adapting policies to mirror the changing circumstances. Ultimately, they’re listening and responding to our students and the needs of our team members.

Some decisions like cancelling graduation were really tough. Each spring, I looked forward to meeting our graduates and their families face-to-face. While we have scheduled a virtual graduation, we have also invited all of this year’s graduates to attend the 2021 graduation a year from now.

We coordinated efforts from our admissions, advising, and finance teams as well as a first-week communication by faculty to students letting them know that we were aware that their circumstances might be different and we are prepared to support them. While there may be more challenges ahead, the people who comprise our university are meeting the challenges individually and together as a team.

Throughout the country, weddings were rescheduled, birthdays postponed, and graduations at all levels of education cancelled. Over the past few weeks, my calendar reminders have alerted me to weddings, graduations, and even the NCAA equestrian championship which was scheduled for this week. It’s a reminder of what’s been put on hold in hopes of keeping others safe. While our thoughts are with this year’s seniors in high school and college, until we develop a vaccine, this could impact our ability to assemble in large crowds over the summer and fall. We’ll have another group of high school and college seniors, athletes, and performers whose situation is not what they imagined. Challenges can be overcome in ways that we might not yet envision.

We all have family members and friends of all generations who are doing their part by staying quarantined at the risk of going stir-crazy. They’re adapting as best they can by learning the nuances of Skype, FaceTime and Zoom—in some cases—for the first time. Everyone is doing their part to stay connected from home and keep moving forward. The silver linings are always there, and people will continue to find them.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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