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Democracy Matters - Episode 19: Leadership in a Time of Global Crisis: Serving the campus, community and beyond


 
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SUMMARY: Listen to our in-depth conversation with James Madison University President Jonathan R. Alger about what kind of leadership is needed during a global crisis and what it has been like to make important decisions on big matters with incomplete information at an unprecedented pace - from reorganizing courses for distance and online learning to responding to local community needs.


Like all institutions working to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, James Madison University has had to make important decisions on big matters with incomplete information at an unprecedented pace. From reorganizing courses for distance and online learning to responding to local community needs, JMU has had to rapidly adjust learning and engagement, balancing short-term responses with long-term implications. 

In this episode, we have an in-depth conversation with JMU President Jonathan R. Alger about what it has been like to make major decisions and what kind of leadership is needed during a global crisis. “It is a crisis that tests our sense of community responsibility – because everyone’s actions affect others around them and we all have personal responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19),” said President Alger.  

President Alger also spoke about how JMU has been helping surrounding communities during the crisis, what higher education can do to ensure full participation in elections and our democracy, and how the global pandemic will impact higher education more broadly moving forward.

In one of the concluding questions, we asked President Alger to reflect on this period and offer a special message to students, faculty and staff, and especially graduating seniors. “I hope this is a turning point for our society – when we all started to think more about the common good, and our role in it. We can overcome big challenges by working together, supporting one another (even remotely), and finding ways to express our common humanity,” President Alger responded. “To Graduating seniors: You have lived through an unprecedented crisis.  Learn from our successes and failures. Use your education to make a difference in the world. Help us focus on the big-picture issues of our time, not just short-term, partisan politics.”

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Published: Sunday, April 5, 2020

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

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