The Franklin Co-Executive Editor Tabby Fitzgerald catch up with Franklin College President Kerry Prather about COVID updates on campus, leaves and education accreditation.

Read on for a lightly edited transcript from their conversation.

Tabby Fitzgerald

the dashboard with COVID-19 cases, is there a chance that there would ever be the inclusion of the number of vaccines on it?

President Prather

We certainly could.


Is that number still the same as it's previously been?


It ticked up by three students, the last I checked, which was a half a percent, something like that. So it's 73.5%, something in that range. That's actually a good suggestion, we can sure do that.


We also heard that Russ and nurse Tracy are leaving. So we were wondering if you had any comments about their time here?


Well, you know, I think everybody that works in student development in positions like Russ’s. It's kind of built into the nature of those positions, that these are not long-term stints, these are experience-gathering steps along the way. So we're thankful for every contribution that those folks make because they're so critical to your experience to the student experience while they're here. And I would certainly say we appreciate everything that Russ has brought to that position. And in particular, he happened to have been here at a time when things couldn't have been more stressful. So the long days and hours that he put in the work that he did when the campus was evacuated, but we still had about a dozen students on campus who were isolating here because he couldn't go home. And then all of the surveillance, testing quarantining isolation, people in Student Development really didn't sign up for that. It just kind of fell in their laps. And they've done, they've done an amazing job of helping us navigate that territory, Russ included, so we will miss him for sure. By the same token, nobody's been more critical to helping us kind of figure out the path. And especially as a liaison with our partners that Johnson Memorial Health than Tracy has been. So we're really going to miss her. She had that she has that combination of professional expertise, but personal skills that really connected with the students, with the faculty, with the staff with everybody that she interacted with. And again, you know, I don't think she signed on for a gig where almost the day she took the job, the roof caved in, and she was learning COVID. At the same time, she was learning Franklin College, but she sure did it quickly. And she did it well. So we're working with the hospital. Now, on the replacement of that position, there may be a little interim period where we've got to do some temporary coverage, but we'll eventually get her replacement on campus acclimated and back in normal office hours.

Nursing is set to high demand short supply profession, that everybody hiring nurses has a challenge. So we're fortunate because we have a partnership with the hospital and they're helping us with the whole process, and we'll get there. 


Are there any updates on the education accreditation?


Well, once we got through May, and the recognition from the Indiana State Board of Education came through. Our programs are up and running again, then only there will be the next step to this, which is to re-engagement in the national accreditation process. But we're going to Have to go through several semesters of making sure that we've got the program functioning, making sure we've got the data gathering. And we're comfortable with all of those processes before we go back to the key process. So the state basically gave us a three-year timeframe. And at some point in that three-year sequence, we'll make a determination about when's the right time to go back through the key process. But first, we've got to just kind of get herself settled in with kind of a newly formatted program on the elementary side, and also on the secondary side.


And are there any new majors or minors that are going to be offered in the near future?


Well, that's always a fluid dynamic. So I think the conversations that go on among the faculty who ultimately decide that are? Partly, what is the market? demanding? What is the market asking for in each of their content areas? And then how did those opportunities fit with our mission in our curriculum as it exists, so for example, the math department just established a data science major, because it is kind of the next logical step in making sure that a highly successful math program stays current with what careers are out there, and what that market is telling us about what they most need. And we kind of go through that, periodically, the faculty, I think, always have their antenna up. As far as staying current, the psychology, the developmental neuroscience major would kind of follow the same line of logic. So in a way, that's an ongoing proposition that sports communication was another example in journalism, multimedia journalism department. So I think all of that will continue to percolate. And you can't jump at every novel. trend that comes along, some of them don't fit with, you know, our kind of core mission, but many of them do. So there's an opportunity for us to tweak the curriculum a little bit as the faculty sees fit, and be able to deliver to students what they need so that when they graduate, they are prepared for those careers, and the whole digital fluency initiative is kind of an umbrella over all of the majors to make sure that the technological aspects of each of those careers that were front-loading as much of that expertise and proficiency as we can.

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