Chair Letter

Changes. When the Commtracks team first came to me with the theme for their 2020 senior magazine my impulse was to complete the lyric: turn and face the strange.


Changes. This was of course months before our strangest change of 2020: the emergence of Covid-19. This was months before the impact of this historic pandemic, the sudden displacement of our physical Simmons community, and ultimately the many remarkable community responses. 


Institutions of higher learning across the U.S. and the world, including Simmons, moved online. Ceremonies, celebrations, and events we look forward to for years became uncertain, grievable losses. Understandably, many of us are phasing through feelings of anger, grief, and resolve.


At Simmons, students responded by organizing mutual aid maps to assist each other and the community. Student journalists continued to report on the virus and on community response. Student athletes found ways to connect and build virtual networks of support. Students across the University met the crisis with leadership, resilience and care. 


As faculty and staff took on the gargantuan task of moving courses, including lab-based and studio courses, to remote learning formats, the CommTracks team embodied resourcefulness, creativity, and poise in quickly imagining CommTracks, for the first time, as a web-based magazine. The editorial team worked on building content to address the impact of Covid-19. The design team pivoted the photography, layouts, and design that they had developed for a print issue to web-based approaches. A student from an affiliated major in web design and development joined the team, working to map and code the issue. The promotional team crafted new strategies to get the word out about CommTracks and plan its unveiling. Teams worked together offering feedback, critique, and support to each other throughout the process. They did all of this remotely, from afar, and amidst challenging and quickly changing times. As they’ve crafted this issue about Changes, they changed us and each other. 


To riff further off the lyric than Bowie perhaps intended, change is also an ethic, an ethic caught up in how we encounter the other. Among the many things this crisis has proven are the preparedness of our students for such encounters and a need for the kind of change they can bring. 


—Briana Martino, Assistant Professor of Communications and Acting Chair


Made by the 2020 senior communication students at Simmons University