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W&M community conversation turns to living, working adaptation amidst COVID-19

  • Margorie Thomas on left of screen with Katherine Rowe, Peter Atwater, Eva Wong smaller photos down side
    Community conversation:  William & Mary Dean of Students Marjorie Thomas (left) was a guest on President Katherine A. Rowe’s April 8 virtual community conversation along with Eva Wong, director of international students, scholars & programs and Peter Atwater '83, founder of Financial Insyghts and adjunct professor of economics.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Now that the William & Mary community has seen that COVID-19 will affect many things this spring semester, adapting to living and working in the world it has created is next — that was the takeaway from the university’s latest community conversation.

“I’ve described it as we’re all learning to ride a bicycle in a hurricane,” said Peter Atwater '83, founder of Financial Insyghts and adjunct professor of economics, as he described the multiple roles students, faculty and staff have taken on with their many responsibilities at home.

W&M President Katherine A. Rowe led the virtual talk that was broadcast from the President’s House on April 8 as part of a weekly series featuring different guests and discussion topics on Wednesdays at noon through May 13. She encouraged community members to continue to send questions to leadership as a way to guide future sessions.

“Our focus now is on decisions about how we adapt,” Rowe said. “In the short term how we adapt, and in the longer term, in a way that sustains what we value most about this institution and about our community. So the big question that all of us are grappling with is how to make decisions about the best ways to adapt when our uncertainty is so high and very little seems to be in our own control.

“So that’s the question that is our focus for today. What happens to how both individuals and communities think when uncertainty is high and control is low?”

Marjorie Thomas, dean of students; Eva Wong, director of international students, scholars & programs and Atwater were guests for the discussion.

Rowe summed up from many of their comments that looking out for each other, and giving one’s self and others a break, particularly over the next couple of weeks, will be important.

Thomas said she has found solace in reaching out to others, in being more intentional and intimate in her time with other people.

“Remember, we are still very much connected, that we still belong,” Wong said. “And try to find those connections one way or another.”