As we move beyond the immediate pandemic crisis, I am grateful for all our health care workers, first responders, and state of Colorado leaders who have dedicated themselves to our safety and well-being. Their hard work continues to be inspiring and invaluable to the future of Colorado.

I am also thankful for the work of our staff and faculty at Colorado State University Global, and our ability to continue to serve students toward their academic and workplace success, particularly at this time of soaring unemployment. While we, too, have had to adjust some of our operations, we have been able to maintain our regular class schedules without interruption, while continuing to support our students during a stressful time.

Although we have had to postpone our in-person spring commencement ceremony, I am excited that we will be able to celebrate the class of 2020 in our fully virtual ceremony May 30. CSU Global was one of the first institutions to provide such a ceremony, and I have no doubt this will be a fitting celebration of our students’ extraordinary accomplishments.

As time passes and we start to look to the future (and out of our homes!), CSU Global’s focus will be on getting people back to work in a post-pandemic world.

Our university model has always offered students and employers a highly versatile route to skills attainment and professional development. CSU Global began in 2008 – during the Great Recession – as the first independent, accredited, entirely online state university in the United States. Then, as now, we were able to offer tangible solutions to our students’ employment challenges. Twelve years and more than 18,000 alumni later, CSU Global has more than 20,000 students enrolled from more than 60 countries, including students in nearly every county within Colorado.

For our students who were already juggling work, family, and community responsibilities, the COVID-19 crisis heightened their focus and time constraints – as well as their need for CSU Global’s asynchronous online education. We’ve been proud of our model since its inception, and our commitment to a superior online and student-supportive learning environment is especially needed as institutions and businesses have been forced to transition to remote means for all that they do, including learning.

Our courses and programs are industry aligned, and include employment-based tools, certification preparation, virtual internships, and workplace scenarios and simulations, to ensure that CSU Global learning is both academic and workplace relevant. Additionally, we are fortunate to have an expanding network of partners that help us deliver a high-quality, affordable education that truly meets the needs of industry and the workplace skills of tomorrow.

Our staff and faculty have collaborated with remarkable speed and agility to meet the recent challenges caused by the pandemic.

Since April, we have been able to provide a number of online resources and support services related to COVID-19, including free courses for educators who need information on best practices for K-12 and adult online teaching and online course creation. We’ve also added courses for first responders who can benefit from information on stress management and social and emotional intelligence. And for those seeking a break from sheltering-in-place and endless Zoom meetings, we also added a free songwriting course led by Country Music Hall of Fame’s Larry Gatlin – just think of the number of songs inspired by the goodness of humanity during the crisis!

We have modified policies that enable us to consider applications from high school graduates who were unable to take the SAT and ACT, and those who opted for Pass/No Pass grades during the turbulent spring semester. And for homeschoolers, we’ve opened up our gtPathways General Education courses, while we also partnered with Acadeum’s Course Recovery Consortium to provide courses to students from other institutions who might not otherwise have been able to complete their year or degree due to COVID-19.

While the pandemic has tested our flexibility and service levels, moving forward we expect CSU Global’s agile culture and adaptive online environment will continue to meet the demands of the dynamic future. We may not know what the global economy may throw our way, but certainly we will be ready to act and to serve.

Becky Takeda-Tinker, Ph.D., is the president and chief executive officer of Colorado State University Global. The Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce recognized her among the 2020 Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business for leadership, ability to mentor, and community service.