2020 proved the adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When you have to move everything online in a matter of weeks, a lot of creativity is required. One of the blessings from a pandemic is that it pushed us to find new and creative ways to operate. This happened in all industries, and I think you saw more cooperation within and between industries.
Our dynamic duo of originality are Mark Raymond and Cortheal Clark. Any campus productions, from commencement to convocations, usually have their touch. They are our Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
When we realized we could not do a traditional commencement, I just said let’s do something unique. So we ended up with a virtual degree conferral instead, not trying to simply do a commencement and call out names without people crossing the stage, but a mix of live and taped segments to give it more of a news special feel. Definitely check it out.
They partnered with Dr. Courtney Williams for a virtual coronation. Dr. Williams worked with student groups all year long to find new ways to engage students on and off campus. It was great watching them work to keep some traditions alive, creatively pulling off a well done coronation.
I was on a Zoom call sponsored by UNCF this spring and we were discussing ways to engage students during the pandemic. Someone mentioned maybe you could do cooking via one of the platforms. I pitched the idea to Zella Palmer, director of our Ray Charles Program.
Zella throughout the year hosts chefs from around the world to discuss African and African American food culture. We recently launched a food studies minor as well. So she used Instagram live to host #DUCOOKS, chefs sharing some of their specialties.
Musicians found ways to share with people during the pandemic. Part of that was done by asynchronously recording and then mixing voices together. Dr. Wen Zhang tried her hand at it, pulling together Dillard students and alumni with members of the New Orleans Chinese Choir to produce several songs during the pandemic.
She followed up and published an article on creating virtual choir projects.
The creatives had a great year, and much of it documented by another creative, Sabree Hill our university photographer. Her pictures provide a great pictorial diary for 2020.