Marrero on adjusting to new normal: ‘Let’s be solution makers’


Eden Hodges, Editor-in-Chief

Instability plagues the Georgia Southern community adjusting to a ‘new normal’, but Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero encouraged faculty, staff and students to be “solution makers”.

“I think it’s important that we always listen, even to those [whose] morale may be low at this point, to understand how we can improve, but what it can’t do is slow us down in the progress of our mission, our goals of what we’re trying to achieve,” said Marrero. “Because if we let that halt us or stop us or lock us down in our tracks, we’re never going to accomplish anything.”

While mask mandates and other COVID-19 protocols asked for in last month’s faculty protests are decisions solely made by the University System, Marrero assured he was in continuous communication with the BOR, having open dialogue each month of any struggles our university is facing. 

“I wish I could make everyone happy, but I can’t,” said Marrero. When asked, he wouldn’t rate faculty morale but said, “Who do you hear from more, the people that are happy, satisfied or the people that are not? But that doesn’t lessen that we should listen and try to improve… Let’s be solution makers. Let’s figure out how to move forward.”

The length of the pandemic and its uncertainty has been taxing on everyone, he said. 

“In July we all thought we were already through it.” 

Every day brings a new challenge, but Marrero wanted everyone to remember why we’re here: “We get to be part of transferring knowledge, of literally transforming lives through education.”

“It’s challenging for everybody, so I’m incredibly empathetic and sympathetic for that and how hard it is,” said Marrero. “Particularly our faculty and our staff and our students have all had to adapt and adjust and be part of a new normal, of which nothing’s assured now.”

The uncertainty and isolation through the pandemic saw a 300% increase in crisis hotline calls to GS’ counseling center, making mental health a priority.

“Mental health has been really one of our biggest issues,” said Marrero. “Particularly the uptick in counseling needs etc., suicide ideation that we’re seeing at record levels and issues that we saw last fall, even into this fall and I’m really proud of how we tackled that.”

“If we can step back and go, ‘Wow, in spite of it all we were able to get through this time, continue delivering education, continue to move forward… I’m so proud of where we’ve been.”