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Rice Center Finds New Opportunities

The computer's view as Capt. Florent Grobert (left) speaks with Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart via Zoom.
U.S. Army Capt. Florent Grobert (retired), who received the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan in August 2012, (left) speaks online with Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of cadets, as part of the Cutchins Leadership Lecture Series.

By Elaine Humphrey, director, Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice Center for Leader Development

The Rice Center for Leader Development has seen a number of tradeoffs as it adjusts to the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19.

The primary change has been in regard to the Cutchins Leadership Lecture Series. Traditionally, the regiment would gather in Burruss Auditorium to listen to accomplished military service members and civilians discuss leadership.

This fall, the speakers graciously agreed to have Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of cadets, interview them via Zoom.

The tradeoff has been that a special group of speakers was available with the simpler logistical requirements. Additionally, by recording the interviews, we have been able to give cadets two days to view the recording to allow everyone to watch, even multiple times if they like.

COVID-19 has also caused changes to Corps Lab. Seating capacity policies resulted in new cadets, sophomores, and juniors attending classes online, while Senior Corps Lab had a small enough enrollment to allow these cadets to still meet face to face. Outdoor classes, such as battalion time and parade practice, have been able to continue in real time with safety precautions such as wearing masks and observing physical distancing in place.

A tradeoff of the freshman Corps Lab going online has been that rather than weekly class meetings on Monday night in McBryde Hall the new cadets have had a video each week that provided the instruction without the distractions of their buds and hunger pangs.

Finally, this semester, we have seen a number of institutions convert their leadership conferences and symposiums to a virtual format.

While this means our cadets do not have the opportunity to travel and meet new people in person, it also means many more of our cadets can “attend” these leader development events. Again, it is about tradeoffs and making the most of the new opportunities.

The Rice Center plans to use the positive lessons learned moving forward.