Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

For business students and professors, distance no hindrance to learning


Keep Calm and Carry On, the popular internet meme and World War II British battle cry, seems to be the approach College of Business students are taking in finishing their spring semesters through online learning platforms.

Virtual classroom screenshot
Lecturer Josh Harris, top row, second from left, conducts an online Finance class

Hunkered down in their homes and apartments due to the COVID-19 health crisis, most Clemson University business students contacted conveyed an upbeat response to finishing the semester in virtual classroom settings.

“It’s definitely not the way I wanted to finish my senior year, but there wasn’t any other decision the university could make,” said Wil Niesen, marketing major and chair of the College of Business Student Advisory Board. “My professors were well prepared, so it made this pivot to online learning much smoother than it could have been.”

Dean Wendy York credited students, faculty and staff for stepping up to the challenges they were dealt.

“In business, as in life, we all face unexpected events that call for an extraordinary response. Our students, faculty and staff – and the entire Clemson Family – have shown the resolve to look adversity in the eye and move forward,” she said.

Wil and several other business majors credited their professors’ preparedness for making this unprecedented ending to the academic year fulfilling.

“I was surprised the shift to virtual wasn’t disruptive at all. The lectures, screen sharing and PowerPoints through the virtual portals, coupled with the professors’ getting us the information we needed to have in a timely manner has me on track to finish my final projects, and graduate.”

Jack Lillig, sophomore finance and accounting major, said his professors’ online transition efforts have resulted in the same quality of education he would have received in the classroom.

“Professor (Terry) Knause did a great job of coordinating our switch to the online classroom,” the Wheaton, Ill., native said. “The Zoom lectures, video contact and accounting group projects that enabled us to talk and work with one another were a result of his coordination and preparedness. Much of that interactive capability was because of the way he brought things together and that kind of effort doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Hannah Perry, a sophomore marketing major from Greer, S.C., said her transition to remote learning was an easy one, in part because she had taken two online classes previously.

“One of the key things my professors have done a phenomenal job of is keeping me updated. The communication channels have been open and very helpful. For what we’re dealing with, it’s been an easy transition.

“This has been a real-life lesson in what many of us will deal with in the workplace,” Hannah added. “We’re all going to be presented challenges that we’ll have to adapt to and keep pressing on. And, working remotely is more and more becoming the norm in many business careers, so from that standpoint, this is really an experiential learning opportunity.”

Wil Niesen and virtual Future Tiger Day
Senior Wil Niesen participates in a virtual Future Tiger Day.

Finishing her senior year in college remotely is “the funkiest thing that’s happened to me in my lifetime,” said Bailey Whetter, a marketing major who is also graduating in May.

“There have been some minor adjustments, like the one-hour time difference between my home in Birmingham (Alabama) and Clemson, but the transition has been smooth, and credit goes to the professors for having a plan in place, and then executing on that plan.”

Among the positives coming out of this academic continuity exercise is students becoming more proficient in time management, according to Bailey.

“I’ve told people that this experience has taught me to react less and respond more. As seniors, we didn’t want our college careers to end this way, and it’s OK to be disappointed. But at the end of the day, we all benefited greatly from our experience at Clemson and now we need to make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation,” she said.

Extracurricular activities such as Student Advisory Board functions and Future Tiger Day have also proceeded uninterrupted.

“Helen Diamond Steele and the Student Enrichment Office really kept all of the student organizations performing their functions as they normally would,” Wil said. “The board was able to allocate money for students attending summer conferences and we voted for faculty and staff awards. Also, the College’s recruitment ambassador program presented a virtual informational Future Tiger Day program for prospective students who have been accepted into Clemson.”

Wil said his biggest takeaway from the remote academic experience has been to be flexible and embrace the challenges as they present themselves.

“I accomplished everything on my senior bucket list because I didn’t wait until the last minute,” he said. “If I had advice for underclassmen it would be to take advantage of opportunities when you can because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”

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