Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:
I hope you had a pleasant fall break and that this message finds you well as you embark on the last week of classes with an eye toward finals and the end of the semester.
As you may be aware, the University has announced employee requirements regarding compliance with the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate—requirements that apply to all Penn State employees who do not qualify for religious or medical/disability accommodations. Students in positions of part-time paid work with the University who have not uploaded verification of their vaccination by January 4 will not be scheduled to work until further notice. Fortunately, the majority of full-time Liberal Arts employees have complied with the federal requirement, and I am confident that our college will be in full compliance by January 4. In the meantime, I strongly encourage those of you who can be safely vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so and to get your annual flu shot as well. In addition, the University recently announced that the indoor masking requirement will remain in effect into the spring semester. Precautions like these will better ensure the collective health and safety of our Penn State students, faculty, and staff, bringing us back to greater normalcy sooner rather than later.
You have done so much in so many other ways as Liberal Arts students to care for your classmates and peers this semester. The “Love is Louder” event is one example that immediately comes to mind, and my thanks go to those of you who participated in the well-attended event that the University organized last month in solidarity with Penn State’s LGBTQ+ communities. Another example is the work being done by Nic Birosik, a Liberal Arts student whom the college recently showcased in its ongoing “Change Makers” series. Nic is the founder of NicNac Charities, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the digital divide and launching other nonprofits. As such, he exemplifies the academic achievement, empathy and care, and career readiness that characterize Liberal Arts majors at their best.
I am also proud of how Liberal Arts students and student leaders have responded proactively to such diverse issues as campus sexual misconduct and student poverty—the latter of which the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) is seeking to address through the creation of a new Student Advisory Board on Student Poverty. Individuals interested in this work should contact UPUA Vice President (and Liberal Arts student) Najee Rodriguez for more information. If you are experiencing financial difficulties yourself, you may qualify for support through our college’s Emergency Scholarship Fund. Please contact LAemergencyfund@psu.edu with any questions.
Lastly, I want to express my deepest sympathies to those of you who knew Justine Gross, the Liberal Arts student who died tragically last month. I have shared condolences on behalf of our college with Justine’s family, and the Dean’s Office is working with the University’s offices of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education to appropriately recognize Justine’s academic accomplishments. For those of you who may need it, do not hesitate to contact University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for assistance.
I wish you all the reflection and relaxation you can find this winter break, and I look forward to us being in communication again in the new year.