December 23, 2020

Message from Dean Lang

To: Liberal Arts Staff and Faculty
From: Clarence Lang
Date: December 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

I hope this message finds you in good health and spirits.

As you retreat from your email and take a much-needed break, I want to reiterate my gratitude for all the hard work you have done over the course of a difficult spring, summer, and fall that confronted us with the unexpected almost every week. We have much more work ahead of us in the spring semester; all things considered, however, I am happy with how well we acquitted ourselves, collectively, over the last several months. We have been responsive, adaptable, and compassionate. We have promoted research excellence and scholarly innovation among our tenure-line faculty, as well as bolstered academic and professional support for our teaching faculty. Likewise, we have fostered college-wide development opportunities and initiatives among staff colleagues.

Most importantly, we have done our best for our students in terms of access, affordability, and care in the current global pandemic. As one example of our success in this area, several of our Liberal Arts students have represented our college in fantastic ways across the University this year. Nyla Holland — a dual Political Science and African American Studies major who is also working on a Master of Public Policy in the School of Public Policy — co-chaired President Barron’s Student Code of Conduct Task Force, which recently released its draft report and recommendations for comment by the Penn State community.

Further, in addition to our college’s student marshal — Michaela Harpster (Communication Arts and Sciences, and Psychology) — several other Liberal Arts students served as marshals across the University during the recent fall commencement:

  • Kelsey Bell (History and International Politics) was the student marshal for the Bellisario College of Communications
  • Alejandra Castenada (International Politics) marshaled for the Smeal College of Business
  • Kylie Dunmire (International Politics) served as student marshal for the College of Information Sciences and Technology
  • Elijah Kelsey (Russian) carried the banner for the College of Agricultural Sciences

It is wonderful, and fitting, to see our students so visible and integral to the life of the campus, and I take this as a testament to all that you have done to educate, advise, and shepherd them over the course of their academic careers, and beyond. I am mindful, too, that we have met our many duties while also tending children and elders, looking after loved ones in these harsh economic times, managing our physical and emotional health, and figuring out how to grieve the loss of friends, colleagues, and family at a time when social gatherings can be life-threatening. You have my sincere thanks for rising to the occasion so admirably.

Best wishes to you and yours for joyful, safe, and restorative holidays. Looking forward to a more promising 2021.


Clarence Lang
Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts
Professor of African American Studies

The Pennsylvania State University
111 Sparks Building
University Park, PA 16802