Higher Ed and Coronavirus: What SCAD Provides Students During a Worldwide Pandemic

As universities across the nation reopen in Fall 2020 for virtual online instruction, students and parents are curious as to how their SCAD tuition dollars will continue to be spent in a meaningful way. Many institutions are looking to add and strengthen existing resources in order to deliver the education expected by their faculty and staff. For some universities, changes are slow to come, while others were well down the road to incorporating online learning long before it was a necessity.

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has been offering online degrees and remote instruction for over 12 years. The Savannah-based institution is the first art and design university to receive the Instructional Technology Council’s Award for Outstanding Distance Education Program, and the rank of “Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching and Learning” from the Online Learning Consortium.

SCAD, led by visionary leader Paula Wallace, saw the benefits of online instruction long before the COVID-19 global pandemic made these changes necessary across the nation. In a recent communication to her community she wrote, “There’s good news for students beginning at SCAD this fall. The unforgettable intellectual, creative, and social engagement that defines #SCADlife is alive and well online and awaiting first-year Bees this September.”

Wallace and other SCAD leaders have been hard at work over the summer to use SCAD tuition resources to broaden the already award-winning online offerings. Beginning with the implementation of Guests and Gusto, a virtual series of conversations and digital content with the creators and innovators remaking culture. Leaders from Karla Martínez de Salas to SCAD alum Christopher John Rogers to Carrie Mae Weems have hosted conversations with students regarding their careers, work, and expectations for the post-Covid world.

SCAD Guests and Gusto conversations have given students direct access to creative professionals in a way universities have only dreamed about in the past. Students, professors, and professional creators are able to collaborate, ideate, and learn from the current moment in a vibrant atmosphere geared toward career development.

The university has also implemented virtual SCADfit workout classes and online “Bee Well” group sessions to help students engage in casual conversation with other Bees about their lives, what they’re working on, and how they’re keeping organized in the new normal. “It’s long documented that learning thrives when students are not only intellectually engaged, but physically and emotionally healthy and happy,” Wallace wrote. “Actions, not words, evince an organization’s priorities, and I know that Bee Well’s virtual transition clearly communicated to our students that we care about their welfare and are committed to creating healthy environments in which they can learn.”

Lastly, professors at SCAD are leading SCADextra workshops focused on helping students launch their businesses in a post COVID world. SCAD enthusiastically supports entrepreneurship in all forms, and these workshops are geared at increasing the viability and longevity of their students’ dreams.

All of these programs have been put in place to ensure SCAD students are receiving the education, connectivity, and experience SCAD has become famous for. Parents and students can rest assured that Paula Wallace and her team are putting tuition dollars into meaningful programs that will enhance employment opportunities.