N early a dozen BC alumni and parents experienced a special, first-hand look at the University’s pivot to online learning this spring as special guests for Leadership, a course taught by Carroll School of Management Professor Judith Gordon, chair of the Management and Organization Department.
What they experienced was not only reassuring—confirming that both faculty and students had the situation well in hand—it was inspiring.
“As a former teacher and lifelong educator, I was impressed by the way Professor Gordon taught from afar, yet engaged every student,” said Sue Martinelli Shea ’76, P’04, co-chair of the University’s Board of Regents. “It was a joy to see how well the online course went and how engaged and enthusiastic the students were. It is a testament to the strength and resilience of the BC community.”
The invitation was extended to members of BC’s Board of Trustees Committee on University Advancement (TCUA) and the Board of Regents (BOR), both of which are essential thought partners for BC’s advancement and engagement efforts. Each volunteer read the assigned case study and came ready to participate, including in small “break-out” groups where they collaborated with the students on specific case study questions.
“I actually learned a fair amount,” said BOR Co-Chair Marc Seidner ’88, P’24, a chief investment officer and portfolio manager for PIMCO. “I was so inspired by the class I called my daughter and told her she should make sure she takes it.”
When he learned Gordon had set up a second evening class for a student signing in from Australia, Seidner—who was born in Australia himself—said he was impressed by her commitment to providing a full, robust class experience for all her students, regardless of their time zones.
Taking BC Online
Gordon and her colleagues in the Carroll School had begun planning for a possible move to remote learning on March 2. That early planning paid off when, on March 11, the University announced the campus would close and all classes would move online.
“It has been very successful, so much better than we ever anticipated,” says Gordon, praising the support she received from Carroll School Dean Andy Boynton, Provost David Quigley, and the staff at BC’s Center for Teaching Excellence.
Known for her interactive, engaging teaching style, Gordon was determined to give her students the most authentic experience she could. She set up a week of intensive, hands-on training on Zoom, Canvas, and other tools for faculty in her department to keep students engaged online.
“It was a lot of work, but it worked well,” said Gordon. And while she said some students did struggle with remote learning—whether due to health, family, Wi-Fi, or other issues—her experience was that students showed up ready to finish out the semester strong.
“Certainly the quality of work was very good, and the quality of preparation and participation in class did not flag,” she said. “In terms of online versus offline, they’ve been very responsible.”
BC Trustee Steven Barry ’85, P’14, ’17, said the class visit was one of the highlights of his work on TCUA, particularly as the University was undergoing such radical shifts in response to the pandemic.
“The students were so impressive, the topics and practical applications Professor Gordon wove into the discussions were fantastic, and seeing her in her element was a gift,” Barry said after the class.
“As a Trustee, I couldn’t be prouder of how the entire Boston College community has rallied around these unprecedented events, has responded to the evolving situation, and continues to execute upon its mission.”