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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, “resilience” had emerged as a catchall term for a big bucket of concepts including everything from grit, persistence, and coping to mindset, emotional intelligence, and academic achievement. In recent months, of course, the coronavirus pandemic has been sorely testing the resilience of our students, staff, faculty, and institutions. So, what are we learning about resilience?

Thousands of institutions of higher education have transitioned abruptly to digital modalities in order to sustain instruction and student engagement through the coronavirus pandemic; however, great concern has been expressed throughout the academy about the quality of online instruction and the assessment techniques used to evaluate student learning. “Next-Gen Assessment,” an ongoing series of blog posts complemented by brief video discussions, is designed to help meet this need and provide a platform for assessment specialists, educators, and other professionals to discuss timely topics, identify best practices, and share new approaches to digital delivery.

Six months before George Floyd was murdered, I discovered this quote from Alexis de Tocqueville: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” But de Tocqueville was wrong. We have yet to fully recognize our nation’s four-hundred-year-old racism, let alone repair it. And key indicators on poverty have also moved in the wrong direction. I hope this is the moment when we begin to live up to de Tocqueville’s observations of democracy in America.

What Liberal Education Looks Like, AAC&U’s new vision of excellence in undergraduate education, calls on higher education to pay more attention to issues of affordability. But when it comes to undergraduate education, don’t improvements in affordability (e.g., budget cuts, tuition reductions) necessarily debase quality? Is it possible to maintain or enhance the quality of learning, equitable access, and affordability simultaneously?

I’d lived through Black people being beaten or killed on camera, and I’d lived through the resulting unrest. In this COVID-19 pandemic, however, everything has felt more immediate and intense. We need time to breathe.

Until we dig deeper and recognize the racial hierarchy that infects virtually all of us, reforming policing and trying to solve other manifestations of institutional racism will only put Band-Aids on a chronic wound that infects our entire body. Unless we confront our true history and its legacy, get to know each other as individuals, and elect leadership committed to unity and equity, the Band-Aids will soon dry up and fall off. And the wound will reappear—unhealed and more acute.

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