Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:
How are you? I hope you and your loved ones are healthy, and I hope you are still finding time to connect with your friends—even if it means doing so remotely for the time being.
I also hope your first week of taking classes remotely went well—I have heard mostly good things so far, and I appreciate everything you have done to help make that possible. If you have experienced any connectivity or accessibility issues with your classes so far, please let your instructor know immediately and we will work on resolving those issues for you. If for some reason you have yet to hear from your instructor, please contact your adviser as soon as possible. I also encourage you to visit Penn State’s Remote Learning (https://remotelearning.psu.edu/) website or the college’s Undergraduate Student Resources (https://la.psu.edu/remote-resources/undergraduate-student-resources) page for helpful information and links to resources if you have not done so already.
I also want to take this opportunity to remind you that you are still expected to behave in a respectful manner in your classes—the remote learning format does not make you any less responsible for your conduct. Your instructors have been encouraged to promptly report any disruptive behavior that occurs, and cases will be handled with the exact same level of seriousness as would be the case in in-person classes.
This is important to note because, as you know, Penn State has extended the remote delivery of classes until the end of the spring semester at the earliest. While the University technically remains “open” for classes, nearly every building on every campus is closed and locked in the interest of public safety (Note: University Libraries (https://libraries.psu.edu/) access and services are still available remotely). Penn State has also postponed spring commencement, and all international education abroad programs and student group travel scheduled for the summer have been cancelled as well.
I realize this is not how any of us envisioned the second half of the spring semester unfolding. My heart especially goes out to those of you who are graduating in May—I know this is not how you pictured your last few weeks as a Penn State student, and I am sorry that the circumstances we now face worldwide forced that to be the case. As I said last week, your academic progress and success remain top priorities—but not at the expense of your health and well-being. We look forward to celebrating our seniors and welcoming everyone back when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
We recognize that many of you may be experiencing intense personal, financial, and familial hardships right now that may create difficulties for you in your courses. Please know that you can communicate these issues to your advisers and instructors, if you choose. Also:
- If you need assistance dealing with the mental health impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit the Counseling and Psychological Services (https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling) website for information or call 814-863-0395.
- If you are in need of emergency financial assistance, please reference the resources available through the Student Care and Advocacy Office (https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/studentcare) within Student Affairs, including a link to the Student Emergency Fund Application.
- Last but certainly not least, if you begin experiencing a fever, respiratory distress, or any other COVID-19 symptoms, please call the University Health Services Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463 immediately.
I will be in touch again soon to see how you’re doing and provide any noteworthy updates. In the meantime, I invite you to attend the virtual town hall for students and parents being hosted by Penn State tomorrow (March 24) at 3:00 p.m. EDT. The event will be streamed (and also recorded for later viewing) at LiveEvents.psu.edu (https://liveevents.psu.edu/) . Similarly, I am working with my team in the Dean’s Office to organize a virtual “check-in” with students and Zoom meetings with Liberal Arts student leaders. Our college’s strategic communications team is also exploring other ways to keep you as engaged in your classes, and the life of the University, as possible.
Until the next time we connect, please be well, be safe, be smart, and be careful!