April 7, 2020

A Message from Liberal Arts Dean Clarence Lang

Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:

Although these past few weeks have not been “normal” by any stretch of the imagination, I do hope you are at least beginning to settle into a routine in terms of your classes and that interactions with your instructors and classmates are helping to create some predictability amidst the chaos. As I’ve said before, I realize this is not how any of us envisioned the second half of the spring semester unfolding.

I feel especially remorseful for those of you graduating next month, and I am sorry about how you will be spending your last few weeks as a student. We still want to celebrate your accomplishment on what would have been commencement weekend, however, which is why Penn State has announced (https://news.psu.edu/story/614272/2020/04/06/academics/penn-state-recognize-class-2020-virtual-commencement-ceremony) it will hold a virtual spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9. Students who anticipate graduating in May should receive an email from graduation@psu.edu (mailto:graduation@psu.edu) that includes important information that you will need to respond to this week—please be on the lookout for that email and reply as quickly as possible. We also look forward to welcoming you back to campus and celebrating in person when we are finally able to do so safely.

You should know that the college remains committed to your academic progress and success. In order to ensure we are accomplishing our teaching mission in the current environment, however, we need your help. When you have a moment, I ask that you please complete this remote learning survey (https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=RY30fNs9iUOpwcEVUm61LhCJRPBb_iVFir3zkzZEyEtUQ0Y4TjZBVlozVExMU0FTRElJQ1FWQkRZSS4u) so that we have a better sense of how you are doing—and how we are doing—so far. Your answers will be kept anonymous and will provide valuable feedback to help guide our decisions about remote learning moving forward.

Even more important to us is your health and well-being. I hope you are all doing as well as possible and continue to remain connected to friends, family, and loved ones as much as you can—but at the same time, I hope that you find some time to unplug, take a deep breath, and remove yourself from the tumult, even if just for a few moments. If you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out to your instructor or your adviser. Also remember that there are resources such as the Student Care and Advocacy Office (https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/studentcare) and Counseling and Psychological Services (https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling) at your disposal; these and other resources can be found in the Undergraduate Student Resources (https://la.psu.edu/remote-resources/undergraduate-student-resources) section of the college’s Remote Resources website.

I also want to make sure that we are answering your questions and addressing your needs as best we can. In an effort to make sure we are doing so, the college will host a “Virtual Check-in” for students on Tuesday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Be sure to look for a message from me next week, as well as next week’s student newswire for details on how to register for the event and submit your questions in advance. For those of you who may have class or otherwise cannot attend, we will record the event and make it available to you afterward.

Until the next time, continue to be safe, be well, be smart, and be careful. WE ARE in this together, and WE WILL get through this together.

Dean Lang