August 25, 2020

Message from Dean Lang – Concerns re: changing course delivery modes

To: Liberal Arts Faculty, Graduate Students, Post Docs, and Staff
From: Clarence Lang
Date: August 25, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

I hope that your week is proceeding well.

I am writing to inform you that Provost Jones has expressed concerns about the messages coming to his office indicating that Penn State instructors are switching their courses from in-person to remote without first consulting with their unit heads or directors, or formally changing the delivery mode in LionPATH.

As you can imagine, this creates difficulties for our students who are expecting to not only take the courses in which they have enrolled, but also take them in the manner in which they were offered. These decisions also spark outrage among parents, and they invite University intervention into our college’s operations and a micromanagement of our faculty affairs. I’ll add that such decisions may also put international students at risk, given that they are expected to take at least one in-person class.

Of course, it is possible for instructors to change their mode of course delivery due to changing circumstances; but it should not be done without due consideration, including plans for how to best meet the learning objectives of a given course if the mode of delivery shifted. Instructors must also consult and collaborate with the head or director of their units before changing the method of delivery.

Please also note that instructors overseeing any in-class activities should be wearing face masks in the classroom, and they should be making clear to students the expectation that they do the same, per University policy. For your information and convenience, I have pasted below links to the following policies regarding wearing face masks and other health and safety precautions.

​I urge you to continue doing all that you must to stay healthy and safe.


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