March 15, 2020

A Special Message from the Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts

Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:

I hope that this message finds you well, or at least persevering.

I am writing to welcome you back from spring break, though not under conditions that I would have hoped! As you know, Penn State is responding to the COVID-19 national emergency by moving temporarily to remote teaching and learning. I encourage you to visit the following site for comprehensive information and Frequently Asked Questions about this shift.

Our period of remote learning begins Monday, March 16 and will extend through at least Friday, April 3. A general announcement made about this situation on Wednesday, March 11 also included information about the cancellation of all student-sponsored events and activities. Although the University is not closed, I want to remind you that if at all possible, you should remain home and away from campus, and off-campus group dwellings such as fraternity houses and shared apartments.

Be assured that your academic progress and success are a top priority in our college. To the greatest extent possible​, our goal is to hold you harmless in terms of evaluation and grades. Your classroom instructors, with the support of college and University staff, have been working hard—and as quickly and carefully as they can—to execute this major shift to remote teaching. That being said​, be patient if any technological mishaps occur. You should make sure that you have contact this week with each of your instructors, and your adviser, and I urge you to report any internet connectivity or course accessibility difficulties you encounter to them immediately. We will work as rapidly as possible to troubleshoot and resolve issues that come to our attention.

I am grateful for the understanding that I know you will exercise.

I recognize that this may be a very stressful moment and possibly also a frightening one. I encourage you to stay updated on the latest campus community news through the University’s coronavirus website, which is available here.

Pay close attention, too, to precautions regarding personal cleanliness and observing the need for social distance from large gatherings. Like the rest of the University, Counseling and Psychological Services will remain open during this period of remote teaching and learning, and you should not hesitate to contact this office via email or phone if you need support and assistance.

As much as you can, make the most of every opportunity to actively engage your instructors and classmates during this rare remote learning experiment. As a Liberal Arts community, we are distinguished by our capacities for diligence, cooperation, creative problem-solving, ethical judgment, critically informed decision-making, genuine respect for the diverse identities and perspectives of students and instructors, and collective empathy and care for one another. I trust that we will all pull together through the extraordinary opportunities, as well as crises, this moment demands.

Please know that I will also continue to check in on you from the Dean’s Office. Be careful out there!

Dean Lang