HutchCC Presidential Pressures of COVID-19

By Tabitha Barr / Editor in Chief

Everyone at Hutchinson Community College has had to make adjustments to their routine, but the college president had to re-evaluate everything.

HutchCC President Carter File is still at the college during normal hours, while most employees work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he isn’t in a suit and tie, but rather a t-shirt and shorts.

Although some might think there is less for File to do, he is staying busy with everything that goes on behind the scenes. He is the one who is always present when decisions are being made behind the scenes.

The coronavirus pandemic hit the world quickly and unexpectedly. HutchCC became aware of the seriousness and communicated with the students. The college sent out an email on March 13, explaining how the college was monitoring the situation but hadn’t made any final decisions since HutchCC’s spring break is later than other colleges.

Two days later, the Kansas State Department of Education announced that K-12 schools would not hold physical classes for the rest of the year. HutchCC followed suit and suspended face-to-face classes. 

“The first thing we wanted to do was make sure we were protecting the safety of our students and the safety of our staff,” File said.

With the elimination of face-to-face on-campus classes, the college had to revamp its teaching methods.

File said that the transition was much easier because they “had great cooperation from our faculty.” There was a learning curve with questions about certain classes that are hands-on oriented, such as cosmetology, welding, and electricity, but HutchCC is working diligently on those matters.

HutchCC wanted to make sure that every aspect of students’ education would be fit. “We didn’t want students to lose their time, effort and money,” File said.

File went on to say that the decision to stop face-to-face classes was a no-brainer because “the safety of our students is paramount.”

Safety was the most important aspect of final decision making. File said that it was only difficult “because we were going to impact students one way or the other. We wanted to be careful on how we impacted their educational mission.”

Online is a different format than traditional but is one that is used universally. Teachers understand it’s unfamiliar, but they are there to help.

“My advice for students who are struggling with the course work or the delivery method is (to) work with your faculty member. Talk to them, be in contact with them. They want you to be successful,” File said.

Staying up-to-date on schoolwork is important, but File wanted students to know that keeping a healthy mental state is also an important task. To help combat the stress and negative thinking, File suggested connecting with family and friends.

File expressed the importance of reaching out if you’re feeling the negative effects of this pandemic. HutchCC has free licensed therapists who can chat over Zoom or phone. There are also many hotlines and resources that students can seek.

“I want students to know that we are thinking about you,” File said. “We hope that all of you are successful through this period. We will come out on the other side. Things will go back to normal. I don’t know what that will look like, but it will go back to normal.

“Stay positive, stay engaged, stay on top of your classes and get those finished, so you can go onto the next thing. Everybody needs to stay positive, listen to our healthcare experts. Let’s flatten that curve and get this thing done as quickly as we can.”

HutchCC is staying active on social media to offer students a sense of normalcy.

File also expressed how much HutchCC students mean to him.

“This is kind of like a thunderstorm right now. Well, there’s going to be a rainbow,” File said. “I wish (students) all the luck in the world. I hope you all know how much you mean to us.”

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