Anne Howsare Boyens, DMACC Urban Provost, Speaks To Challenges of Coronavirus

DMACC Urban campus's response to the coronavirus

The Urban Vibe met with DMACC Urban’s Provost, Anne Howsare Boyens, Ph.D., in an online Zoom meeting on Apr. 3.
 The photo captured Anne Howsare Boyens (top) and Dianne Siasoco (bottom right) in an online interview from their respective homes.

The Urban Vibe met with DMACC Urban’s Provost, Anne Howsare Boyens, Ph.D., in an online Zoom meeting on April 3. She compared the emergence of the coronavirus and the transition to distance learning to “building a plane as we were flying it.” 

According to Howsare Boyens, the biggest challenges for students and staff at Urban are access to technology and the rapid move to online classes. 

She said, “Another layer of challenge on top of this is that we have students, staff, and faculty who are working extra hours at Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, or a facility that is still open and are working and working so much. Who’s taking care of their kids? And if they’re in school, how does all of that balance?” 

About ten minutes into the interview, her two kids popped in front of the camera to hug their mom and play with her hair. She explained, “We’re all working very closely together. This is another challenge for our students, staff, and faculty who are parenting at home and working remotely. My son is in public schools and they aren’t going back. Everybody has been very flexible about being able to work from home and sometimes teach your kids from home.”

She suggested that students make a dedicated space in their homes so they can focus on their studies and use DMACC’s online services: Academic Advising, Counseling Services, Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Accounts and Tutoring. 

Hillary Johnson is a Student Services Specialist on Urban campus. She has been helping prospective and current students online with a range of financial aid questions. She recently showed someone how to fill out the FAFSA, the application for federal financial aid, in a Zoom meeting.

She provides services to students from all campuses, but she had some concerns unique to the Urban campus. 

She explained, “Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate with students and some may fall through the cracks. I worry about our students’ ability to connect online, lack of technology, and resources.”  

Johnson said, “We may understand the issues to some degree, but not fully because we’re not connecting with them on a daily basis.”   

The Urban Vibe will be speaking with community organizations that provide services for students who are in need of technology, food, and employment throughout the month of April and then share information on social media and the Urban Vibe News website

In spite of challenges and ready-made solutions, Howsare Boyens pointed out some positive outcomes. She has been able to call her team and make “good connections” with them over the phone. She laughed and also said that she likes her “commute,” which can sometimes be a short walk to her sunroom. She has been taking frequent breaks and walks with her family throughout the day.

Johnson added, “While this time is really difficult, I think it will make us all extremely thankful for being able to come back together as a community when we open the campus up again.” 

Howsare Boyens would like to remind the students of something: “We care about you. We miss you. We want to see you succeed. Let us know what we can do to help. We know this is bumpy and it’s not going to be perfect, but we’ll get through it together.”


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