December 14, 2020

End-of-Semester Message/Well Wishes

Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say “best of luck” as you begin finals week. I hope whatever exams you have scheduled go well, and I hope that you feel confident about your work on any final projects that you recently submitted or will be submitting.

Just a few reminders for you as the fall semester ends:

  • I realize the end of a semester during what one would consider a “normal” year can be stressful enough—which is why I can imagine this year can feel particularly overwhelming. As you navigate this week, please find opportunities to relax and find time for yourself. If you are feeling especially anxious or overwhelmed, please remember that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is open virtually and available to help.
  • Considering the extra amount of stress everyone feels by now, it’s not surprising that the end of the semester also tends to see a rise in the number of academic integrity issues reported in the college. As a liberal arts student, remember that you are expected to conduct yourself with honor and conscientiousness in all academic, personal, and professional pursuits—and to hold your fellow students accountable for doing the same. No matter how overwhelmed you may be feeling, please do your best to keep this in mind so as not to jeopardize your academic standing. Please visit the college’s Academic Integrity web page for additional information.
  • As was the case during the spring semester, Penn State has again implemented alternative grading for the fall 2020 semester to serve as a safety net for undergraduate students who encounter significant challenges with their coursework due to circumstances beyond their control. A link to the online tool used to select alternative grades for each course will be available in LionPATH beginning December 23, and you will have until 11:59 p.m. EST on January 12 to make a choice. Because of the potential long-term implications associated with selecting alternative grades, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your academic adviser as you make your decision. Also, please remember that academic advisers will not be available from December 24 until January 4 while the University is closed for the winter break. Please visit Penn State’s Optional Alternative Grading website to learn more.
  • Lastly, congratulations to all our Liberal Arts students who will graduate this week! Let me remind you that Penn State will host a virtual commencement celebration at 2:00 p.m. this Saturday, December 19; additional details about the event will be forthcoming later this week.

I’m especially proud of the fact that Liberal Arts students will be representing five colleges as student marshals at this weekend’s commencement ceremony. In addition to Michaela Harpster serving as student marshal for the College of the Liberal Arts, Kelsey Bell will represent the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications; Alejandra Castaneda will represent the Smeal College of Business; Kylie Dunmire will represent the College of Information Sciences and Technology; and Elijah Kelsey will represent the College of Agricultural Sciences. Congratulations!

Once finals week is behind you, I hope winter break provides ample opportunities for you to unplug. unwind, and reconnect with family and friends to the greatest extent possible. I will be in touch again with any pertinent updates as the spring semester approaches. Until 2021, please continue to be well, be safe, be smart, and be careful!

Dean Lang