Leadership Strategies in a Pandemic

Jacob E. Clemens
Forward Falcons - In this together

Dr. Jacob E. Clemens answers questions about a new virtual series created by the Marvin Center to help BGSU students and organizations navigate some of the unique challenges presented by COVID-19.

Leadership Strategies in a Pandemic is a new series of virtual workshops developed in response to concerns raised by Student Leadership Assistants (SLAs) at the Marvin Center for Student Leadership’s annual Student Leader Retreat in August. The center’s staff became aware that students wanted tips and support in navigating the unique challenges student organizations are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We know that in the midst of the pandemic, students are craving connection and a sense of belonging, which are fundamental needs that our student organizations were created to help meet. Now, those organizations are being called upon to fulfill this crucial role while maintaining health and safety protocols, often in a virtual environment.

In response, the Marvin Center has created Leadership Strategies in a Pandemic, which consists of six sessions:

"We believe this series provides valuable opportunities for students to develop the leadership skills, knowledge and perspectives required of leaders in these challenging times,” said Dr. Jacob E. Clemens, director of the Marvin Center for Student Leadership. “As part of the Division of Diversity and Belonging, all of us at the Marvin Center want this series of workshops to serve as a community building tool that promotes belonging and builds leadership skills among our students and student organizations.”

Clemens answers questions regarding the new series and how BGSU students and student organizations can get the most out of what the Marvin Center for Student Leadership has to offer during these challenging times.

What are some of the practical skills offered in the series?

The sessions were developed by our SLAs, and who better to facilitate these conversations than fellow student leaders? As is always the case, their insights were invaluable in fully leveraging what the center can offer the campus community. Here are a couple of examples of the practical skills you will gain by attending the workshops:

  • Making the Most of Virtual Meetings – Do you know what is possible with Zoom? There are a myriad of ways that digital platforms such as Zoom, Teams and WebEx can be utilized to help student organizations. For example, this session dives into the benefits of using breakout rooms, screen sharing and the whiteboard feature, as well as how to use the “reactions” feature on Zoom to engage members in icebreaker activities.
  • Leadership in Action – This session features a diverse panel of student leaders who share important insights into how different organizations are adapting and making the most of this unique time. Idea sharing can be a beneficial tool, and we want to teach students that leaders should never stop growing and learning from others.

How can we be as inviting and inclusive as possible in a virtual environment?

An entire session is devoted to this topic. Inclusive Zoom Practices stresses that with the shift to a virtual format, more intentional measures need to be taken to ensure that student organizations are as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This session not only talks about using inclusive language but also explores specific practices and Zoom features that help promote inclusion such as:

  • Closed captioning options
  • How to include pronouns with your name
  • The importance of setting group expectations
  • Ensuring that all members have equal access to any shared content.

How do I access this series and other Marvin Center resources?

  •  Watch the recordings from our Leadership Strategies in a Pandemic sessions on our YouTube channel.
  • Request a Marvin Center Experience, such as a workshop facilitated by our Student Leadership Assistants. Any of our sessions from this series can be adapted into a tailored workshop for your organization, executive board, etc., and can be given in-person or virtually according to current guidelines. Request a workshop