David Mindich always knew that some of his students were financially insecure, but the pandemic has exacerbated that reality. And made it plain.

Mindich, the chair of Temple’s journalism department, was recently speaking to a student on the phone when — midway through the conversation — the line suddenly went dead. It turned out that the student’s service had been cut off because they were unable to pay the bill. Mindich paid the student’s $30 phone fee.

“For a lot of students, the pandemic has disoriented their lives in ways that would have been predictable but nonetheless are seen on a devastating scale,” he said. 

Some students have asked to borrow computers, and the university has loaned them out. Other students have lost internships, and Mindich is looking for ways to be flexible in awarding credits for jobs that were tied to courses. 

Mindich’s own classes ended right before everything at Temple was moved online, on March 11. But he’s talking with students maybe even more now. Mindich has scheduled a lot of one-on-one time with students, including about a dozen email conversations and four dozen email conversations, along with a digital class reunion and an advising Zoom. He’s helping them answer questions about how they can make it through the next few months. 

“I came to Temple three years ago after a 20-year career at a small college where everyone knew each other’s name. We professors at Temple need to work hard to make human connections” he said. “Human connection is one of the most important things we can do.”