Over the last month, Samford University administration worked tirelessly to make COVID-19 vaccinations available for full-time faculty and staff through the services of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Several Samford professors have now received their first round of the vaccine and are scheduled for their second shot.
The Samford Crimson staff interviewed a variety of Samford professors and gathered their opinions about their experiences. Vaccinations are expected to help more faculty members go back to work in-person on campus.
“It means I’m contributing to the global effort to stop the spread of the virus so we can return to ‘normal’ life sooner rather than later,” associate Spanish professor Dieter Waldvogel said. “Each vaccination gets us one step closer to normalcy.”
Many professors spoke about their excitement to get back to a new normal.
“I feel very grateful that I am doing my part to move toward a healthier and safer country. Once most of us get vaccinated, we can return to normal, or at least a new normal,” Sociology Chair and professor Theresa Davidson said.
Professors said they are excited for the future when they are able to meet without masks in a classroom.
“I, like everyone else I suspect, will be so glad to be able to go back to teaching in a normal environment, and this is an important step toward doing that,” Religious Studies professor Scott McGinnis said. “I miss seeing students’ faces.”
Many professors said they feel as if the vaccine is hope for the future.
“The center where I was vaccinated had a big banner up that said ‘A Shot of Hope’ — that sort of sums it up,” History professor Annie DeVries said. “Things are starting to look more hopeful, and I’m cautiously optimistic.
For many, getting the vaccine means being reunited with family and catching up on lost time.
“It also means I’m a step closer to being able to spend time around my 74-year-old mother—whom I haven’t shared an indoor space with in about a year,” Journalism and Mass Communication professor Niya Miller said.
Other professors shared similar plans, explaining that receiving the vaccine meant they are now able to visit people who are considered high-risk.
“This is also significant as I am planning on visiting my parents this Spring and they are in
their 70s and thus in a ‘high-risk’ group,” Religious Studies professor Lisa Battaglia said.
The vaccine is expected to also eventually help increase international travel.
“I hope the wider role-out of vaccines will mean I will be able to see my family, who live outside the country,” English professor Amy Coté said.
Some professors said they were emotional when receiving the vaccine.
“I was actually telling a friend that I got teary eyed as the nurse gave me the shot,” Accounting professor Michelle Newberry said. “It’s been such a long year for our world and to see this symbol of hope was really moving.”
Some professors said they now feel less fear when meeting in person for class.
“I feel a huge sense of relief in thinking about being able to be present with my students, with less fear,” Coté said.
Some professors even said getting the vaccine was a social responsibility.
“I want to do whatever I can to move toward healing,” Davidson said. “I look at getting the vaccine as a responsibility I happily take on to protect my family, friends and community.”
Other professors said they are grateful for the opportunity to get vaccinated and Samford’s response to the pandemic.
“Samford as an institution has really taken the threat of COVID seriously. We generally are doing the right thing,” Journalism and Mass Communication professor Clay Carey said. “It’s important to do this for our campus community and the broader community.”