Business As Unusual: Albizu University

Lifestyle continues to reach out to businesspeople all over South Florida to ask questions about the impact COVID-19 has had on their businesses—and what the future holds. Today, we check in Tilokie Depoo, chancellor of the Miami campus of Albizu University.

Business backstory: Founded 55 years ago, Albizu University is a private, nonprofit organization with more than 2,000 students in campuses in San Juan, Doral and a center in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The university offers programs in human services, criminal justice, education, psychology and more. With more than 1,000 alumni, it is the only regionally accredited secular university in the continental United States named an honor of a Hispanic person (Puerto Rican psychologist Carlos Albizu-Miranda).


The impact: “When it became apparent that we needed to shut down as COVID-19 was spreading in March, Albizu University was able to move quickly and respond throughout our Puerto Rico and Miami campuses on both the operations, administration and academic fronts, thanks to our ongoing digital transformation,” says Depoo. “Students, instructors and staff have been working remotely during the COVID crisis.

“We were well prepared and equipped to provide distance learning. We ensured that our professors completed continuing education training to become properly certified to teach online. Online certification is now a permanent part of our instructors’ requirements.

“We arranged a virtual graduation.

“We launched a news site for students for internal updates and launched a new website that brands our international presence, with our San Juan main campus in Spanish and our Miami campus under one online ‘roof.’ ”


Supporting students: “With students, instructors and staff all working remotely during the COVID crisis, keeping everyone connected continues to be critical, both from a practical standpoint, as well as a morale-boosting one.

“To accomplish this, our Office of Student Affairs created a schedule of virtual events, including alumni gatherings, a career fair, and self-improvement workshops, such as brushing up on professional writing skills, our graduates will need to be productive members of the medical community.

“Albizu offers students a variety of psychology-related special interest clubs such as the Neuropsychology Club, which hosts events like the recent fourth annual Research Council and informative webinars on psychology-related topics like ‘The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.’ ”


Moving forward: “A major positive change is that our Goodman Clinic (also referred to as the Albizu Clinic) received permission to deliver telehealth mental health and speech pathology services statewide, throughout Florida. This service gives people who may have lost their jobs and their health insurance a way to get psychological care, counseling, testing and diagnostics without making a trip to the clinic. The addition of telehealth services was a silver lining that provides health care to those who could not otherwise afford it and enables us to extend our geographical reach to provide those services.

“Albizu University continues to provide various student testing services to Miami-Dade Public Schools. We are also licensed to deliver speech pathology and diagnostic services online in Kansas.

“We plan to keep making all our continuing education classes available fully online, along with other types of curriculum as appropriate.”

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