GATOR CHAMPS: AIMEE REASH
Although attending college on campus came to a screeching halt in the middle of the spring 2020 semester, when the pandemic hit, the incredible Aimee Reash and her team at LITS (Library and Information Technology Services) Public Services made sure that learning at Allegheny College continued. The team includes staff who look after library circulation, interlibrary loans, research support, desktop computing and presentation space support, media equipment, and related services. They are vital in keeping digital content flowing across classrooms and labs, making sure that the research needs of the college are being met, and they also take care of presentation technology for classrooms and offices, and handle tech and academic support requests that come to LITS through the InfoDesk at Pelletier Library.
Aimee's team responded instantly to prepare everyone for the transition during the spring semester. They partnered with the staff in the Gateway Learning Commons and FS educators to create up to 30-40 tutorials on how to handle remote course delivery, remote learning, and remote disruption. Approximately 80-90 staff and faculty members attended the workshops hosted by Ms. Reash’s team members -- receiving information updates and having their questions answered even in the middle of very uncertain times.
LITS teams had to attend their own daily meetings to discuss how they were making progress in handling the transition to going fully remote and addressing potential technical improvements. Every Wednesday they would have a staff member from another department, such as the Counseling and Personal Development Department, Financial Aid, or the Learning Commons, advise them on how to improve their methods in keeping students connected.
Aimee and her husband not only have to take care of their work responsibilities, but they also care for her father who now lives with them. They grow a large garden filled with tomatoes, peppers, celery, and much more. Aimee lends her musical talent as the music director to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meadville. Over the years, she has helped prepare the pianist each week, directed the church choir, played the tuba, and participated in a community orchestra. Unfortunately, just one week away from their choir performance, the pandemic halted all musical gatherings. She found it difficult to no longer play music with others, but has found it healing to use the church piano to record songs for future online services.
Ms. Reash would like to say that she and every single one of her staff sorely miss all the students. She describes how she misses the elevated sense of community of Allegheny which surpasses the corporate world on many social, intellectual, and ethical levels.
Those who work in Higher Education do not do it for the paycheck; rather, they do it for the students and the social connections.
“Allegheny makes a statement that we want to back. Unlike a corporation that could take a singular standpoint or one political view or perform unethical practices, we believe in the Allegheny College statement of community. We believe in the ethos and spirit of Allegheny, and the students interact with us and see that ethos at work on a daily basis.” she explains.
“When we are a community belief system, we are a stronger group of people.”
Meadville is a place where everyone can agree and disagree civilly, and it is important to maintain the strong community bond that Aimee Reash is speaking of. Even though the country is facing difficult events and protests, Meadville can set the example for how to communicate peacefully.
~~ Aimee Reash (Director of Public Services, Library and Information Technology Services @Allegheny College). Interviewed by Mary Dosch (Class of '23)
Thanks to the generosity of Aimee and the LITS teams, Allegheny College has remained connected even when everyone has gone remote. Your generosity in clicking on the button and making a gift, can help students stay connected to learning in the year ahead.