Ackerman Chronicle

April 20, 2020 | Issue 26

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A slide from Dr. Roemer's "State of the Center" address that shows one example of the Ackerman Center's current social digital footprint. This map represents the 124 locations from which more than 500 people have viewed the Center's most recent newsletter. The Center's growth on social media has been exponential as well.

"State of the Center" Address

Dr. Nils Roemer, the director of the Ackerman Center and interim dean of the School of the Arts and Humanities, led a virtual discussion during Friday’s “State of the Center Address,” where he discussed the current situation regarding the University and the Ackerman Center’s transition to online classes and programming due to COVID-19.

Dr. Roemer described the impact of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent quarantine from his unique position as both a professor and Dean of A&H. He emphasized the system-wide efforts of University faculty and administration to quickly implement a web-based system for transitioning courses and public events into an online format that was accessible for students and staff during this period of uncertainty was nothing less than a show of strength from the UT Dallas community.

His presentation focused on how the Ackerman Center has not only risen to the challenges of our new reality but has exceeded expectations on multiple levels. He mentioned that the transition has introduced new and exciting ways of virtual engagement with Holocaust study, including the inception of the Ackerman Center hosting virtual events, where audiences from all around the globe can tune in, ask questions and engage with other online attendees.

Dr. Roemer emphasized how rewarding this experience has been for him, explaining that he has a renewed understanding about teaching gained through the insight that has come from interacting with students via online learning. He highlighted how during a time of uncertainty in the midst of the COVID-19 virus, the creation of tools for adaptive teaching and learning environments has achieved in bringing UT Dallas together with the larger community.

After his discussion, Dr. Roemer answered questions from online participants, which included current and former students, advisory board members, and members from both the UT Dallas and the general community. The cyber meeting was, in itself, representative of the successful transition to an online format, as an exemplary example of the variety of web-based communication platforms that have been utilized for distance learning.

Announcements

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Dr. Roemer shared that our faculty and their courseload are adjusting to the retirement of Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, Leah and Paul Lewis Chair in Holocaust Studies and the founder of the Holocaust Studies Program at UT Dallas, which will be effective in the Fall 2020 semester. He remarked that her chair would be filled eventually, but that in the meantime, he was pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Amy Kerner as an Assistant Professor in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies. She will serve as the Fellow of the Jacqueline and Michael Wald Professorship in Holocaust Studies.

Holocaust Remembrance Day: April 21st

Dr. Roemer encouraged everyone to attend our annual event commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be held virtually this year. If you would like to be a part of our virtual Holocaust Remembrance Day event, we welcome faculty, staff, students, and members of the community to participate in any language, including English. Please email cynthia.rogers@utdallas.edu for more information.
Dr. Roemer also highlighted how other instances of virtual experiments such as the Ackerman Center’s new weekly podcast, hosted by Visiting Assistant Professor, Dr. Sarah R. Valente, has presented new avenues of exploring Holocaust-related topics during the time of our shared new virtual realities.

Episode 2 is now available: “Historical Considerations: World on Fire,” Dr. Roemer and Dr. Valente discuss on-going Ackerman Center events as well as the acclaimed PBS series World on Fire.

New content is added every Sunday.
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This issue was made possible by the following contributors:

Cynthia Seton-Rogers, Academic and Outreach Events Manager
Chrissy Stanford, Research Assistant