The Road Map to Post-pandemic University Life

The Road Map to Post-pandemic University Life

Much of my reading, meetings with other presidents, conferences and seminars in higher education over the last 12 months have focused on return to campus or post-pandemic life. You hear the term “the new normal” but most of the writing, conferences or suggested seminars by various higher education businesses are speculative. We are all struggling with finding a clear path or road. As Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat said in Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

The vulnerability of the day lures us into fear, doubt, depression, distrust, anger and frustration. The road we once travelled before the pandemic seems different then this road—now fraught with political and racial tensions, social distancing and isolation—that confronts us with the dilemma of choice. Robert Frost expressed it this way: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”

We often define our pathway by the influence of those things about us, including where the majority goes. If society is anxious, we are anxious. If the norm is to distrust and point the finger, then we point the finger. This path or road seems all familiar to the analogy Jesus uses in choosing between the broad road and the narrow road where few are willing to travel. This narrow road requires patience, humility, kindness and forgiveness which are all virtues of love.

Our post-pandemic journey is already mapped out for us despite our lack of knowledge about the future. Our challenge is the same as before the revelation of chaos—Trust in God. Proverbs 16:3 gives us further guidance for the future: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

Fresno Pacific University’s Strategic Map is the same as it was before the pandemic. It guided our response and planning during this pandemic, and it provides for us post-pandemic. We have not detoured or travelled a different path. Our road map is still the same—GEIST: Grow Strategically, Engage Collectively, Innovate Creatively, Serve Courageously and Transform Purposely.

 Some may have stepped off the path for the moment, distracted by their isolation. Others may have taken another road as the framework of their working virtually, but our leadership team and so many of our colleagues have been vigilant in guiding our work through storms, loss, uncertainty and disappointment. Our road less travelled is fill with faith, hope and love because we have the same guide (Jesus) we started with when this journey was in its nascent stage. His invitation to trust him has never changed. He invites us “to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.” An appeal to live out love and courage which releases us from the bondage of fear. Our road map has not changed, but has adjusted to the present and will adapt to the future. On this journey we can trust one another to Grow Strategically, encourage each person to Engage Collectively, empower our colleagues to Innovate Creatively, surrender ourselves to Serve Courageously and with kindness Transform Purposely.


Joseph Jones, Ph.D.