Mulerider Strong Fund Helps SAU Fight COVID

Responding to the impact of COVID-19 and continuing the operations of Southern Arkansas University during a pandemic are the primary purposes of Mulerider Strong Fund, a great way for alumni and friends to show their love for the Blue and Gold.

The new fund was introduced as part of the sixth annual Giving Day held on Tuesday, June 30, one of five featured funds created to allow donors to support the area of the University that matters most to them. On that day, the University received over 215 gifts totaling over $220,000.

The Mulerider Strong Fund provides operational funds to support needs of the University. Resources have been used to ensure the health and safety of campus during the pandemic.
Josh Kee, vice president for advancement, said donors continue to give generously. “Resources provided through the Mulerider Strong Fund allow us to help our students and continue operations without straining our budget,” he said. “We are so grateful to the many alumni and friends who have partnered with us during these uncertain times.”

Thanks to the Mulerider Strong Fund, SAU has been able to provide such critical safety supplies as hand sanitizer and dispensers, facemasks, Plexiglas barriers, disinfectant wipes, cameras and microphones for classroom use, and room foggers. These tools promote health and safety as the University has implemented its COVID-19 protocols. It has also provided resources to the new
Mulerider Market, located in the Reynolds Center. The Market is available to all current SAU students in need of food or personal hygiene items.

Dale Adcock (55), a graduate of Southern State College, is among the many alumni who have so graciously donated to the Mulerider Strong Fund. “I think it helps everyone at SAU,” Adcock said.

“It does a lot of good. I had a lot of help when I started my college career in 1952. I got a job immediately at Southern State, and it helped me pay for my room and board. I greatly appreciate all the help that I received. It is so important to give back, especially at this time, when students are having to go to class virtually.”

COVID Perspectives

Haylee Hines
SAU Cheerleader
Freshman Mass Communications Major
Camden, AR

Although my freshman experience is very different from what I had imagined, it is definitely different in a positive way. The events hosted by the school did not have an abnormal feeling to them as I expected them. All events were strategically thought out to where social distancing and masks did not make them awkward. It was pretty easy for me to adapt to hybrid classes. My professors were very helpful and provided numerous COVID-safe ways for students to contact them in regard to the assignments. The very few in-class sessions I had were extremely small and I believe helped to create a much more comfortable transition from high school to college. I pictured my first year of college cheer featuring a football season and many practices. After getting news that football season was cancelled, the cheer year started off pretty slow, but as the season progressed the entire team had to get tested to ensure the safety of others, and to allow contact practices. Once full practices began, there was some feeling of normalcy to them. I started with a doubtful mind for the semester, but I am ending with a smile and seeing a promising second semester. In just one semester this University has brought me so many memories and new experiences that I will forever be grateful. I am extremely glad that I chose to attend school here, because even with COVID, it really does feel like home.

Dr. Connie Wilson
Assistant Professor of Education / EDAS Director

Since my program is 100% on-line, I look for creative and innovate virtual ways to connect with my Educational Leadership in Administration and Supervision (EDAS) graduate students. These include using Voice Thread in all my classes. This tool provides a virtual platform for students to interact via video and audio in an asynchronous way. Voice Thread is used for assignments and discussion boards, which allows students to work with me and other students in the course to discuss relevant topics in the field of educational leadership. I also give students opportunities to collaborate with me and each other on Group Projects. I use Google Folders, Zoom meetings, and Voice Thread to provide a means for collaboration, and it works really well.

Tremayne Bell
SAU Track
Senior Accounting Major
Dallas, TX

Due to the COVID pandemic, many of my classes have switched to being hybrid courses or offering the ability to zoom class from home. Also, we no longer have the easy access of going to our professor’s office during business hours to receive assistance or tutoring when needed. The same challenge presents itself with my fellow classmates as well, as we no longer have the access to work in groups and study face-to-face. Because of these challenges, especially with not having access to the study lounge in the Rankin College of Business (a previous hot spot for many of us to study together), I’ve found Magale Library’s study rooms as an excellent substitute to study and learn effectively during this time. It’s very hard for me to learn and focus from my bedroom, therefore, the study room is a great resource I’ve utilized during COVID, especially since the rooms are sanitized after every use.

Lindsey O’Neal
Resident Assistant
Senior Mass Communications Major
Shongaloo, LA

As a resident assistant dealing with the impact of COVID-19, it has been extremely challenging. You live in a residence hall with 150-200 students and you normally learn names and match them with faces. With a mask on, it was pretty difficult. This made you pay more attention to their voice, their wardrobe choices and their personality to get to know who they are! During the semester we also have to have “actives” which is where each RA plans an activity once a month to get our residents out of their room. COVID made it harder than normal because we had more restrictions on what we could do. It made us think of ways to be more sanitary and abide by the rules and regulations housing placed on us. Some held virtual actives, some held events outside to a have clean open space, and some held events inside with six feet apart and masks! I’m really proud of how our residents adapted to the pandemic. They understood that masks are necessary and to constantly use hand sanitizer! Luckily, I live in Talley and everyone enjoys being outside. With the pretty weather we’ve had this semester, you could normally find all of us outside playing cornhole, listening to the guys play guitars, or using the roping dummy. I’m so thankful that during this time my residents, my staff, and my university have remained #muleriderstrong.

Makenzi Hamilton
Director of Recruitment

We’ve experienced a lot of trials this year due to COVID regulations, but our recruitment team has remained both positive and creative. We’ve continued keeping contact with our students whether it be virtual or in-person. We are grateful for the hard work from schools all over providing us with virtual options to engage with their students as well as allowing us to be in-person safely. We have steadily been texting, calling, e-mailing, and providing both in-person and virtual individual appointments. Our team has provided several virtual events with the help from various departments, faculty, and staff to provide our potential students with helpful information with our Mulerider touch. I’m grateful for our #MuleriderStrong community and how we’ve continued to provide for our future Muleriders.

Abe Tucker
Chair, Biology Department

The Department of Biology has found new and innovative ways to teach courses safely in this era of social-distancing. Each faculty member has concocted their own specific combination of face-to-face and remote options for their students. Biology instructor Sarah Amonett, has developed new remote labs for her students to conduct creative biology experiments in their dorm, outside or at home. Ms. Christa Marsh has modified her A&P labs to allow for interactive, remote labs that make use of video dissections and recorded tutorials. Dr. Abigail D’Ambrosia and Ms. Kjärstin Carlson-Drexler have redesigned all the Principles of Biology I labs to be conducted through online activities or performed outside. Dr. Jeremy Chamberlain arranged to teach his Anatomy and Physiology course in a classroom-rigged Harton Theatre, which allows for outside air circulation and maximal social-distancing. The pandemic precautions have not deterred Dr. Rory Carroll from keeping his Ecology and Mammalogy students from safely conducting fieldwork at Laney Farm, the Couch Preserve and other sites, including the installation of bat houses across campus. Drs. Showalter, Hyde and McDermott have succeeded in facilitating socially-distant face-to-face lab courses for genetics and microbiology students by redesigning lab spaces and having students work in small groups while wearing face masks and face shields. Dr. Jennifer Kelton-Huff has facilitated a number of internship opportunities for her Public Health students to work safely in the community at organizations that are at the forefront of promoting science-based decision-making in the community.

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