In-Person, Hybrid, or Remote: Is Flip-Flopping Good for Our Universities?

This Fall 2021 Bulletin issue is late just like everything else at this time in academia. Meeting immediate student and institutional needs has been central to sustaining our university and personal lives. As I scribe these words, this wave of COVID-19 seems to be relenting on the west coast of the United States but it’s not true for everywhere else in the world, or even here in the United States. The university administrators have taken muddled positions on whether to teach only in-person, hybrid, or altogether remotely. Most had settled on in-person and hybrid but replanned the opening of the new term with remote education, creating another round of anxiety among faculty and students. It appears that a majority of faculty wants in-person teaching but it’s not clear if a majority of students are behind this position. In this difficult time, both administration and the faculty majority seem to be ignoring those members of the university who have young, unvaccinated children at home, are themselves immunocompromised, or have family members who are otherwise at high risk. We hope that our readers, their families, and their communities have been in good health and we want to wish you a peaceful and productive new year.

Albeit extremely late, this issue does not lack in excellent scholarly and pedagogical articles and other content of interest to our readership. The first highlight of this issue is an interview with the senior scholar, Deborah Andrews, who offers her take on the state of our field. Traci Austin, Danica Schieber, and Ashton Mouton’s article, “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Empowering Student Employment Choices in the Age of COVID-19”, is a pedagogical exploration of the usual dilemma all of us in academia and other workplaces face after having experienced working remotely. It should be a timely publication for our classes since this question will be with us even if omicron is the sign of relenting of this pandemic. Julien Mirivel, Ryan Fuller, Amy Young, and Kristen Christman show us how to integrate interpersonal skills in our business, professional, and technical communication courses using the classic positive communication model. While the last set of authors give practical advice for interpersonal communication pedagogy, Allison Alford addresses a practical problem of all times even though it has been exasperated by the pandemic and its correlative, remote digital media. Alford presents her take on rebranding the academic office hour for our times to bring students to our virtual hour. Keshreeyaji Oswal’s article, “Why aren’t employers calling me?”, tackles pandemic recovery from the perspective of recent college graduates. The media reports employee shortages all around the country but job seekers without significant work experience are still facing barriers. Since the author speaks from his first-hand experience of being in the job market recently, instructors might find this short article relevant for their employment unit in business and professional communication courses.

The 2021 Association for Business Communication conference expanded its reach with its virtual platform and many international attendees were glad to join us from the comfort and safety of their homes. Right after the conference, we interviewed Medha Bakhshi from Mumbai who gives us a window on business and management communication teaching in Indian business colleges. Whereas India still does not have many business, professional, or technical communication degree programs as yet, courses in these areas seem to be flourishing with the communication pressures insinuated by offshore work and the overall maturation of Western-style Indian corporations. Our third and last interview in this issue was conducted over Zoom with Sky Marsen in Adelaide—a familiar name in our organization. Here, Marsen lets us into her program development, research, and teaching at Flinders University in Australia. Our western region vice president, Jolanta Aritz’s letter closes this issue with two important projects of interest to all of us. The readers will be glad to read that we can still look forward to Hawaii for the next conference of our region.

Mikel Chertudi and I want to thank the anonymous reviewers and authors for their contribution to this issue at this time when pandemic fatigue is probably at its very peak. I also want to thank Maureen Andrade (Utah Valley University), Geoffrey Clegg (Midwestern State University), Mark Evans (McCoy College of Business Administration), Rachel Martin Harlow (The University of Texas Permian Basin), María del Mar Navarro (University of Arizona), Hitender Oswal (Science and Math Institute), and Zsuzsanna Palmer (Grand Valley State University) for their support in the preparation of this issue. As always, it has been wonderful to work with Mikel Chertudi on the design and content of this Bulletin. I also wish to thank Jolanta Aritz for her encouragement and moral support.

Sushil Oswal

Editor, the Western ABC Bulletin