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College Athletics in the Time of COVID-19

Episode 25

September 8, 2020 32 minutes


Total enrollment is up this semester at the University of Kentucky and retention rates continue to improve. While official numbers won’t be available until October, they’re clearly doing something right.

UK Executive VP for Finance and Administration, Dr. Eric Monday, and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart join EAB’s Carla Hickman for a discussion of how the fall semester is going so far. They talk about the planning and preparations that went on across the summer and that involved more than 500 UK students, faculty and staff working together for a safe return to campus.

Mr. Barnhart shares his experience working with the medical task force established by the Southeastern Conference to enable student athletes to return to competition. He cites their hard work, along with lessons learned from professional sports leagues, for giving his school and many others the chance to resume collegiate athletics this year and to experience the very real contributions that sports make to university life.


0:00:09.6 Matt Pellish: For EAB, I’m Matt Pellish and this is Office Hours, the weekly higher education podcast, whether you work in higher education or not, you’ve likely come across some kind of news stories, social media posts about campuses welcoming back students over the last few weeks. All schools, whether you read about them or not, put a tremendous amount of time, effort into planning for the start of the fall, and then into finally welcoming back students in one way, shape or form. On today’s episode, Carla Hickman is back and joined by two key figures from the University of Kentucky, Executive Vice President for Finance Administration, Dr. Eric Monday, and athletic director, Mitch Barnhart, to talk through how is the fall semester going so far. They’ll share the stories of their summer efforts of bringing together 500 students, faculty and staff into how to safely reopen campus, as well as another important topic, college athletics. UK, as a part of the SEC, worked with the conference’s medical Task Force to enable students to return to competition. Mr. Barnhart is gonna talk about that experience along with what was learned from professional sports to give UK a chance to get back out on the playing fields. Thanks for listening. And welcome to Office Hours with EAB.

0:01:23.8 Carla Hickman: Alright, well, hello everyone, and I wanna welcome you back to another Office Hours conversation. This is Carla Hickman, I’m the Vice President for Research strategy here at EAB. Today we’re in for a treat, I am joined by two very special guests from the University of Kentucky, Dr. Eric Monday, who serves as the executive vice president for finance and administration and Mitch Barnhart, who is the Athletics Director for the Kentucky Wildcats athletics program. So gentlemen, welcome. I really appreciate you spending some time with us today. How are you doing this afternoon?

0:01:54.7 Dr. Eric Monday: We’re, great. Glad to be with you.

0:01:58.7 CH: Well, as I said, We absolutely appreciate your time and your willingness to give us insight, especially as the University of Kentucky, like all of higher education institutions has been weathering this pandemic and all that it has meant, all the uncertainty that we are facing, and you’re facing as administrators. We spent some time trying to think through what a new academic year and a new full term would be, but one of the issues we haven’t touched on quite as much on Office Hours yet is what that means for student athletes, what that means for their experience and for how important athletics programs are for university life, so looking forward to hearing how the University of Kentucky has been approaching the decisions that need to be made as you start a new academic year and then especially what that’s meant for your athletics programs this year too.

0:02:47.9 CH: So I thought I’d get started, like most institutions in higher ed, Kentucky decided to move up the start of your fall term, so I understand that class is in session, students are certainly back on campus. Eric, how’s it going so far?

0:03:02.8 DM: We’re 15 days in to this 100-day odyssey that we look at in the fall semester, so it’s 100 days from when we started a few weeks ago until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when our students will move out of the residence hall, so a good start. And we did a baseline test of every single student on the campus that gave us a nice baseline for how we’re looking from a testing standpoint, we’ve implemented our contact tracing, our daily attestation practices. We have a number of classes that are still on-site, we have a number that are hybrid and online as well, a good mix for students to respond to their needs, and physically distanced in a positive behavior, positive pressure, campaign about healthy behaviors throughout the campus, so we like the beginning. We still got a long way to go, and we know the unknowns are greater than the knowns, but we’re focused on, as our President likes to say, focused on making it easy to be safe for our students, our faculty and our staff.

0:04:05.8 CH: I know a lot of campuses were wondering what would enrollment look like, so would students make the choice to come back, and I heard some good news from Kentucky’s early numbers, I know we all have to wait until October to see the final head count but it looks like total enrollment up overall, and I was really impressed. Eric, it looked like you had a really strong retention rate, so a lot of the last year’s, first year students are coming back. Is there anything particular in the way that you all approached the spring and summer that you’d credit that to, giving confidence to students that coming back this year was a good choice?

0:04:36.1 DM: We try to over-communicate a level in the last five months, four months, we have communicated more directly with our faculty, our staff, our students, than we probably communicated in the last few years. So very focused, very large, big table, so we had over 500 faculty staff and our students involved in the planning efforts for this Fall. Some of our retention gains are related to our years of work and some good advice and counsel by EAB and over those years, but we are up almost five points just in the last four years on first to second year retention at about mid eighty sixes, well on our way. We wanna get to obviously a 90% goal is what we’d like to see, at least 87 in the next year or two, so good progress on that. But I think over-communication, setting the table for easy to be safe, showing that UK cares and understanding that all of our decisions were based on how do we build that best environment for their success. So, pleased with the number so far as you noted, we gotta wait till October, but it’s the largest total size of an institution at over 31,000 that we’ve been, and we’re pleased with all the negative headwinds or the challenging headwinds in American higher education that we’ve got a good start. We gotta finish. But we like where we are.

0:06:00.1 CH: You have alluded to some of the ground work that I know started well before the Spring, but certainly in the Spring and you mentioned, how do you we create an environment of health and safety protocols, and I’m sure there was enormous amount of planning and conversations that went into that, and we’re reading some of the headlines of other institutions who’ve sort of struggled as students have come back. How do you think about the ways to create a positive culture where people take personal responsibility, but also understand their role in the collective health and safety, not just of UK, but Lexington, the broader community that you’re part of, where do you all sort of stand? I heard you allude a little bit to UK safe, but what does that look like in practice for your students?

0:06:41.7 DM: Sure. It’s some of the same things we’re seeing everywhere, but it’s how do we think about being protected, how do we respect, how do we stay six feet apart, how are we washing our hands more frequently, and how do we have those available, whether it’s messaging, whether it’s signage, whether it’s a course… The devices and the hand sanitizer and all those different things right there, where it’s easily to be accessible for our students, faculty and staff. But it’s how we’re looking at healthy behaviors. We’ve taken the strategy that we’re gonna reinforce the positive, we’re gonna go peer-to-peer. So we’re utilizing our student body president, we’re utilizing students to talk to fellow students.

0:07:25.8 DM: And we have our challenges just like everyone else, and we are having those in certain areas of our campus, like those headlines across. Our students wanna be social. They have not seen each other since March, in a physical way, for many of them. So we have to create those environments. So, for example, we’ll show them movies on the lawn on a regular basis, and before they get there, we have the blankets spaced out every six feet. Right? So, we’re trying to make it easy and trying to be intuitive to the best we can to make it safe, but that’s been our strategy. We’ve had a campaign theme that we’ve utilized, and that theme is built on community. It’s a collective effort and one that’s not just to the campus, to your good point, Carla, but the community and the surrounding area of Lexington as well.

0:08:14.9 CH: I often think about the role that the university like UK plays for that broader community, your place of work, employment, your students are going into businesses that are part of the community fabric, and so I love hearing that reminder to them that it is this collective and personal responsibility that hopefully gets us through. Mitch, I’d love to hear from you a little bit. Health and safety certainly takes on a different tone, in some degrees, when we think about our student athletes, our coaches, your athletic staff. Is it the same approach when it comes to University of Kentucky athletics? Or, there’s some different ways that you’ve gone about approaching health and safety for your students?

0:08:50.7 Mitch Barnhart: I think ours is layered a little bit differently, but along the same lines. When you talk about being a part of a 14 team conference, like the Southeastern Conference, it’s a little bit different because ours involves traveling across state lines. It involves traveling into the other communities to participate in competitions, and now all of a sudden the protocols are different from place to place and spot to spot, and so we’ve got a lot of things that come into play. Now, we’re also bringing fans into play and people that are coming from many, many different places, and you’re talking about officials and people that work these games. So we’ve got a lot of pieces that have to come into play.

0:09:26.7 MB: I think that’s why you look back in mid-March, when everything sort of came to a screeching halt on about March 12th, as I recall. It was mid-April, we were one of the leads in the country, in the Southeastern Conference, to put together a medical working group, and so one person at every institution went on a task force, a medical task force. Twelve of those were doctors, most of them infectious disease doctors, from institutions and two boots on the ground, what I would call boots on the ground medical trainers, that were medical officers in our athletic departments. They put together protocols for us that were critically important for us to be able to do two things.

0:10:06.2 MB: One was return to activity. How do we safely bring our young people back to our campus to be able to get them acclimatized to participate in sports that they love and they wanna participate in, safely do that. Bringing them back to a campus where they would be put on a campus, where in many cases, during the month of June, most of those campuses were shut down, they weren’t even open. So, we had to work closely with our university, and closely with our medical community, and then the last piece was how to return to competition. So those are two different things, return to activity was just returning, how do we get you ready, return to competitions, how do we integrate that into a position where we’re playing games and we’re bringing people together from different communities across a very, very, very large footprint.

0:10:51.1 CH: It won’t be any secret to my EAB colleagues that I’m a huge sports fan. I often laugh and say you mark the passage of time by the start and end of these seasons in a lot of ways. So I’ve been really interested in seeing how professional athletic conferences have been approaching this decision-making, Major League Baseball, the NBA, sort of taking different approaches. Are any lessons learned from some of the professional athletes for collegiate athletics?

0:11:16.1 MB: I think there’s lots of lessons to be learned. One is the medical procedures and the protocols they put in place. The other one is just the way you’re able to put the events on and they’re very different. They’re very different. And so for us, we have taken opportunities to watch each of those organizations. The PGA Tour and then NASCAR were really the first two to come out with events early on and say, we’re gonna try. They had 30,000 people in Bristol for a NASCAR race, and as the research would indicate, that as people left that pocket, there wasn’t any uptick or spike in the virus. So really important to take some protocols for what they did in a place that seats well over 100,000, many social distancing, all those pieces of the puzzle were in place. The protocols for the drivers and the workers and all the officials that came into Bristol from other areas.

0:12:14.0 MB: And you had the PGA Tour and how did they approach it? And so, yeah, we took lessons from all those people. Well, obviously, we’re getting updated testing procedures and protocols. Now there’s all sorts of technology about how long you’re close to someone. You’re close to someone for longer than 15 minutes and you get a beeping device. I mean there’s all sorts of things out there that our medical people are just ratcheting up the information and we’re going to get to a spot where we’re gonna kick this thing off and get going in some of our sports. I truly believe that we’ve had the best ramp up of anyone. I’m biased, but I love what our medical task force has given us and how hard they’ve worked at it and integrated very, very closely with the ADs, with the presidents, and they’ve been fully informed and invested in the decisions we’ve been making.

0:12:58.9 CH: I love that example. I often think too, NASCAR’s a great one, just really thinking about the fans as another component of that in the outdoor events and all the learning that’s gonna be going on. So it sounds like great collaboration across your colleagues in the Southeastern Conference, and I imagine that we’ll learn as we go. We’ll give it a try and we’ll be able to adjust as we learn things and our competition kicks off. I think your football team is scheduled, probably counting down the days now, not weeks that we’re getting close, and I’m sure the basketball season is… Discussion’s underway about what that might look like. I also feel bad too, ’cause we talk football and basketball, but you’ll have 21 different athletics programs, so I know there are a lot of different considerations given the various sports that you support.

0:13:38.8 MB: Yeah, there’s some, what they would call the incidentally, has rocketed them into three or four different groups. One is a high-risk sport in terms of contact and physical contact, and you’ve got some medium risk and low risk, and some of those, and you can do the math. The low risk sport would be golf. You’re out in the middle of a very wide expanse and you’re not close to anyone and you can very easily stay socially distanced, and there’s a way to do that. Football, basketball, volleyball, some of those become more high risk sports in the exchange of sweat, and some of those very, very difficult interactions, it’s a little more high risk, so you have to think about how you do that. And so then all the things that come into play as it relates to disruptions and teams not being able to travel and you have too many people and you’ve had to quarantine, and those are also part of conversations that we get to and they’re very complicated. We’ve never had to go down this path before, that has not been a part of our DNA. But it is this time, and so it is something that we’re learning on applying and to your point, and a really good one. We will adjust as we go and we’re gonna have to gather more information as we go.

0:14:44.7 MB: And the NFL is getting ready to crank up, where we’ll have an opportunity to watch them very, very closely and what they’re doing with their fan protocols as well as their game protocols and all the things they’re doing with their athletes, and so it is an ongoing deal. And the NHL hockey’s going now, and so it is, it’s certainly a contact sport, and that’s a… As we’re watching all of those and anxious to… We’re just anxious to return our student athletes to some sense of normalcy. They love to compete, and there has been no mistaking that they wanna get out there and compete, and so the notion of there is… There’s protocols we must put in place to keep them safe, but make no mistake about it, our young people wanna play.

0:15:26.2 CH: Eric, your point was how often the student leaders have been involved in all of the health and safety protocols. I imagine your student athlete leaders have absolutely been part of the conversations across as well.

0:15:39.3 CH: One of the other things that I’ve been thinking quite a bit about, we get a lot of questions here and the idea is, as you start athletics this year, I think there are a lot of misperceptions and misunderstandings about what it takes to have an athletics program, especially when it’s the caliber of Division One is, so I hope we could explore just a little bit how the financial aspect of your athletics program is gonna look different in the COVID era than it normally would. I actually read a report lately that I don’t know that many people have found, that the NCAA’s Researcher actually does a fantastic report that helps you understand revenues and expenses. Actually, I think people would be surprised. There are only a handful of schools where their generated revenues outpace their expenses overall, and typically we’re finding ways to offset, either through activity fees, or direct university support, but I would think that revenue and expense conversation, Eric, would look a little bit different in the COVID era for athletics in particular. Maybe some new expenses you’ll have to incur given all the health and safety protocols, or sources of revenue that may not be the same as they would have been pre-COVID. Can you give us a little more insight in how do you think about the financial side of the picture?

0:16:50.3 DM: Yeah, I think Mitch, Mitch can address this too, Carla. I think there’s a lot of interaction. In some ways, it’s maybe larger at the institutional level and smaller at the athletic level, and then sometimes it’s exactly the opposite, if we think… And Mitch can address the health and safety of our athletes, and let’s say the football program or the Fall sports that the SCC has talked through. Institutionally, we’re in the eight digits of expenditures just relating to testing, tracing. We’ve stood up a 25-person health core that’s focused on contact tracing and isolation and quarantining strategies for the entire student body. We work with Mitch and some of his leaders in the medical area to help isolate and quarantine within our athletic programs as well. And so when you think about at the institutional level, definitely, there are some pretty significant expenditures.

0:17:43.9 DM: We have this philosophy, and it is… Dates back to how we manage incidents at the University of Kentucky, and so we talk about over communication, we talk about big table, we talk about an Emergency Operations Center that’s been open since March, we talk about communication meetings where we’ve met 50 and 60 times already so far this year. And we always say that finances come second, so we are focused on safety, we’re focused on the health, we’re focused on finishing on November 25th and finance comes second.

0:18:15.9 DM: So we are aware and we spend time looking at and analyzing and understanding the different revenues and expenditures, but we’re gonna put that second and put health and safety first. I know from the interaction between Mitch and I, talking about finances has a lot to do with our media rights in how we think about multi-media, how we think about some of our contractual relationships and how those may adjust. How we were thinking about licensing is a conversation that Mitch and I have had a talk about just with how our trademark programs are working, so on, our bookstores and so on. So yeah, there’s a, to your point, Carla, it is a different environment. There’s gonna be higher levels of expenditures in some ways, there’s gonna be less opportunities, and there’s fixed costs, even when you’re bringing in, let’s say a portion of the fan base, the fixed costs are the fixed costs, so it has led to a lot more interactions in conversations to think about how we’re best positioned for the future.

0:19:07.3 MB: Yeah, and just to add on, there’s multiple, there’s when you think about the different places that we have to get support from, and the things that we do, we’re fortunate, I think. We’ve been a long time… I would say differs to the university. We have been partners. There’s different things that we’ve done. We give money to fund a science building on campus, we give money to academic scholarships on campus, and that’s been a part… We’ve not… We got out of the student fee business a long time ago, so we don’t take student fee money. We have a different relationship as it relates to the way students access our program. And so we’ve tried to do that, we try to stand on our own two feet, or as Eric likes to say, it’s hub on our own bottom, and we try to do that. And we’ve done that effectively well, but there is no question in the COVID era that’s gonna test our mettle. And we’ve got some things we’re have to work our way through, and we don’t know what that looks like.

0:20:01.9 MB: But to Eric’s point, the finances come second in front of our student athlete safety and the experience of our kids. And they’ve made some decisions at the NCAA level about the ability for a young person to opt out and be able to come back and have an extra year of eligibility. That will impact us financially, but it’s the right thing to do. And for people, if they don’t feel safe, it gives them an opportunity to come back and participate again and get the full experience that they expected. And the other piece is simply this, we have incurred some expenses to make sure that we do it right, as we will institute a third party testing program that will come in and give us two to three tests a week for the young people that are in competitive seasons. And some people in low risk sports might go once a week, but we’ll make sure that we’ve got protocols in place through testing, contact tracing, quarantining, all of those pieces, that we’re not putting somebody out there that’s gonna put anyone at risk. And we’re gonna work really hard to try and put on an event that, number one, our people will be able to compete at the highest level, but two, they’ll be able to walk out and be healthy. And there’s risk in every sport that we play, the sports we play, our risk for injuries and those kind of things, we can’t take those away. What we can provide is a healthy environment for our young people.

0:21:13.8 CH: As I was preparing for this conversation today, I released off, and I used sports metaphors more than I already talk, so forgive me, I’m gonna talk about your playbook for approaching the COVID era. But has anything changed so far? I mean, we always talk about best-laid plans, you do your very best with the information, the data that you have. But as you look at the beginning of the year, are there any places where you’ve already pivoted or changed the strategy or the approach that you could share with the group?

0:21:40.1 DM: We moved from Phase 1 testing into Phase 2, and now Phase 3, very, very quickly, Carla, probably a little faster than we anticipated. We knew Phase 1 testing all 30,000, or in the end, it was about 25,000 to 26,000 of our 31,000 who were eligible. We have about 5,000 students that will not come physically to the campus this fall, online classes or other strategies, so the actual end was around 25,000. That took three weeks. It worked really well. We probably anticipated that we would look at those data and be informed by that and make a Phase 2 testing strategy, I’d say plus two, plus three weeks. And we went, basically stopped testing on a Sunday, that same day we started testing in Phase 2, because we saw some positivity rates in some segments of our student population. We looked at students who lived on campus, we looked at students in the club sports, we looked at student athletes, we looked at students in fraternity and sorority life, and several other categories. And we saw some… We don’t like to use the word triggers, ’cause trigger is usually an incident management “dumb you down.” We’d like to look at indicators and things that say, “Hey, you need to explore that more.” So we saw an indicator where the positivity rate in certain segments was three times what it was in those non-student segments.

0:23:00.2 DM: So we immediately went specifically to do a new testing strategy around our fraternity and sorority life members and those who lived on campus in a more communal living environment. And so we just finished that on Phase 2, in fact today, we’re beginning Phase 3 testing, which will be indicated by looking at waste water. And so we worked within the university with our own faculty, with our own researchers, and that’s one of the things we really leaned in on, Carla, is how do we utilize the talent and the skills we already have. Dean DiPaulo, our Dean of the College of Medicine, leads our start group that’s looking at testing strategies and helps inform what’s next. And something as simple as hand-sanitizer, we produced all of that inside completely vertical within our Beam Institute, and that’s really allowed us to do things at a little bit of a faster pace and be best prepared, our facial masks for our faculty produced and ordered at the College of Art Design, or College of Design rather. So those types of things have really helped us. But if you ask me specifically, it’s probably how aggressive we had to move into future phases of testing.

0:24:06.6 CH: Interesting, we’ve talked in earlier episodes about just remembering the public good, the role of higher education, particularly public research universities like the University of Kentucky. And as you were speaking, I thought, “How many lessons are there to learn for society at large,” about what you’re learning in testing protocols, how you’re approaching the PPE and the requirements and the social distancing. And what a leadership opportunity, not just for the University of Kentucky, but for all of higher education. How do you tell those stories more often? Are there ways that we can… I guess this is one of them, but how do we tell the stories about all the things we’re learning at places like UK to help inform our broader response to the pandemic?

0:24:49.3 DM: Well, we’ve had an opportunity with a president, Dr. Capilouto, who’s a public health expert. He’s a dentist by training and then has a doctorate in public health and has been the Dean of the College of Public Health before he was a provost and before he’s been president here for nine years. And so we’ve been on about every news channel you can name, telling the story, not that we’re doing it best, but telling the process through which we’re making the decision. And that understanding of community, of collective, of working together in a shared governance model to stress test those ideas, to use the vertical experts we already have… Sometimes we always wanna go outside rather than staying inside, and how do we think about that collective, our university senate, our staff senate, our Student Government Association, that’s really helped us. It’s kind of what we’ve leaned into to really understand what the end in mind has been, and it’s been based on that safety and UK cares and getting to, we believe that a residential experience is a defining component, we think that helps build a better environment, better graduates, better students who can lead and change the world, if you will. So how are we committed to doing that, and focused on that every day.

0:26:06.1 DM: So we try to tell that story, not from, “We’re the best,” but that we have developed a process that we actually, Carla, are gonna use for other things on the campus, not just how we’ve responded to this incident. So that’s really helped us to tell the story.

0:26:23.8 CH: Well, I wanna turn to both of you just to… I cannot imagine what it has been like. We’ve been in crisis management mode now for months on end. You’re starting a new academic year, new athletics year, it sounds like things are going well, but what’s giving you the most hope and optimism, either for the Fall term or just as we continue on the road in this new year? What’s keeping you motivated or preventing that burnout that we’re reading so much about?

0:26:51.2 MB: I think it’s… My hope for my… My encouragement always comes with the young people we work with. When you’re away from them and you’re distant from them, and it is on a Zoom call or it is… They’re not in your facilities and not working out and there’s no energy, that drains you pretty well. I will tell you there’s not… It’s really hard to stay motivated. I will say that for our coaches and for our staff, and we saw the young people come back, and we saw them back in our weight rooms, and we saw them back on the fields, and we saw them back working and their enthusiasm for what they did… But more importantly, that care with which they came back and how they did it was amazing. We haven’t been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ll tell you our young people have been really good.

0:27:38.7 MB: And they bought in to the masks, they bought in to being socially distant, they bought into the protocols we’ve asked them to. Have we had some positive? Absolutely, we’ve had some positive. But as you look at it and the things that they have done, there’s where my encouragement is. They have listened, and they said, “You know what? The greater good of what we’re trying to get to is important to us.” And so, I will tell you this, and this is the athletic director in me talking, we got some really good teams. This may be the best collection of student athletes we’ve ever had at the University of Kentucky in my time in almost 20 years of being here, and this is a good-looking group top to bottom, 500 strong as I think we’ve ever had. And so my encouragement to them, if it means something to you, you wanna make a run at things that are special in your lives, and you walk away from this thing knowing it was the best you could do, and we’ve gotta buy into these things and they have done that.

0:28:31.4 MB: And so that’s my encouragement. Of the fatigue that has caused our staff… Everybody thinks oh you’re in pandemic, you got time off. You’re good, you’re not doing anything. And I laugh a little bit at that. I think this has been one of the more difficult stretches for our staff they’ve ever been through, in terms of preparation. Eric can attest to that as well. In terms of things that are going on at the university, our staff has been totally invested in trying to make this a safe deal for our young people, the protocols and things we’re doing to give them a chance to compete I’ve never seen done in athletics in almost 40 years of doing this. And so our young people encourage me and get me fired up, and to know that we get a chance to compete sometimes soon is really exciting. That’s where the hope is, and I hope that somewhere along the way we get to put some rings on fingers and enjoy some opportunities to watch those people graduate and do what they do, the best of the best.

0:29:18.8 CH: I love that, Mitch. I don’t know, Eric, if you wanna follow that, ’cause that was a pretty terrific inspirational moment there. But anything that’s giving you hope and optimism for the future?

0:29:29.0 DM: Yeah, that was great Mitch. I think… We went almost five months, Carla, where it was hard to find a lot of students on the campus. And for someone like Mitch and someone like me who has been at it almost 25 years, always on a college campus environment and the FCC at schools, that’s tough. You miss the life of a campus. You don’t work and hire at it unless you love the campus life and the campus environment. So, it was almost five months to the day when students started moving back in. And to be able to walk around and see that experience, to see a line at the bookstore… Just standing in the Starbucks line when we used to not wanna stand in it, and you wanna stand it ’cause you’re six feet apart, and we’re all wearing masks.

0:30:11.7 DM: Or my joy, probably is the highest on Monday and Wednesday at 2:00 when I’m teaching the course in the student center in a physically distanced environment for 80 students. I teach in finance each semester. And every one of them’s wearing a mask, and we’re having great dialogue and we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, learn and get to know each other and build community and stretch our thoughts and try to improve ourselves through this college experience. And so, that’s what I look the most forward to, and that’s what gives me the most hope. ‘Cause those students are here, they want the experience, they wanna be here, their parents want them here, and we’re able to achieve it. Our goal is to get to November 25th and we’re doing everything we can to get there.

0:30:57.9 CH: I think that is a great place to start wrapping it up, and I wanna thank both of you for the insights that you shared today. I wanna wish you the best of luck as your academic year continues and your athletics start out. I would be remiss if I did not add, I have family in Kentucky. I have a great aunt who lives in Bardstown, Kentucky, outside Louisville, in her 80s, who was very excited for some Kentucky Wildcats football and basketball this year. For her and for all of your fans in your community, I wish you the best of luck, and we so appreciate the time you spent with us today.

0:31:29.1 DM: Thank you, Carla.

0:31:35.9 MP: Thanks again for listening. Join us again next week when EAB’s Kaitlyn Maloney dives in the world of testing and contact tracing with Quest Diagnostics Senior Director of Marketing, Stacey Rebelo. They separate fact from fiction, in terms of capacity turnaround times on college campuses, and they take a look at tracing strategies from the very low tech, all the way to the truly state-of-the-art mobile contact tracing platform developed and used at MIT. See you next time on Office Hours with EAB.

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