Chris Marsicano, an assistant professor of educational studies and public policy at Davidson College, distinctly remembers the day in March 2020 when his research assistants learned they had to go home to finish their final semester. Their first response was: What can we do to help?
They supplied their own answer in the form of the College Crisis Initiative, or C2i, as it became known. By collecting real-time COVID-19-related data from colleges and universities across the country, C2i became a trusted resource for institutions planning their pandemic response. The online dashboard, created by Davidson students under the guidance of Marsicano and computer science professor Laurie Heyer, allowed users to study responses based on institution type, infrastructure, enrollment, endowment size and other variables. The Chronicle of Higher Education teamed up with Davidson and used it to present the reopening models for thousands of institutions.
One revelation from the data: Strong shared governance, with buy-in from students and faculty, placed Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) among the most successful campuses in mitigating COVID-19, despite fewer resources.
C2i’s findings made news across the globe. As Marsicano points out more than two years later, its data can inform how the higher education sector responds to future crises. To him, the heart of C2i remains his research assistants. They lived into Davidson’s purpose by asking, “How can we lead? How can we serve?”
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A HIGHLY TALENTED, HIGHLY DEDICATED GROUP OF STUDENTS, BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN STAND IN THEIR WAY.
Photo Credit: Chris Record
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