September 1, 2020

Message to Students from Liberal Arts Dean Clarence Lang

To: Undergraduate Students
Date: 9/1/20
Subject: Message to Students from Liberal Arts Dean Clarence Lang

September 1, 2020

Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:

I hope you are doing well and that your second week of the semester is off to a good start.

I’m glad so many of you were able to attend the “Meet the Dean” event this past Thursday. I enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time with you, albeit virtually, and to answer your questions. If you missed the event, I encourage you to watch the recording. My thanks to Susan Knell, director of our Career Enrichment Network; Greg Nolan, the college’s director of academic advising; and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Richard Page for joining me to assist with the question-and-answer session.

I wanted to take this opportunity to provide links to some of the resources I shared during my remarks last week:

  • Although I suspect most of you have already done this, if you haven’t please be sure to download the Penn State GO app on your phone or tablet as soon as possible. In addition to giving you one-stop access to LionPATH, Canvas, Starfish, LionCash and other important information, the app is also where students enrolled in in-person courses can go to complete their required daily student COVID-19 symptom checker.
  • I also encourage you to bookmark the college’s COVID website, and frequent the Students and Additional Resources pages in particular, for key reminders and to access a host of academic, financial, housing, IT, career enrichment, student engagement, and health and wellness information. Be sure to bookmark the University’s COVID website as well.
  • If you find yourself in need of emergency financial assistance as the result of the pandemic, the college and University might be able to provide some support. Please email to inquire about possible University assistance or about possible college assistance.
  • Last but certainly not least, please remember that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available to help if you find yourselves facing any emotional duress. If an emergency arises that requires on-site assistance during normal business hours (Monday–Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.), please call CAPS at 814-863-0395 for directions; if an emergency happens after hours, please contact the 24/7 Penn State Crisis Line at 877-229-6400.

I would also like to suggest that you consider adding the following events in the upcoming week or so to your calendar:

  • All first-year Liberal Arts students are strongly encouraged, and all Liberal Arts students are invited, to attend the First-Year Lecture, “Finding Your Own Path: Mindfulness, Mindset, and Your Liberal Arts Education,” being presented by Jill Wood, teaching professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at 3:30 p.m. EDT tomorrow (Wednesday, September 2). Advance registration is required.
  • I also invite you to attend the next in the series of “Toward Racial Equity at Penn State” roundtable discussions, which is scheduled to take place at 6:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, September 8. (Stay tuned for a link to this livestreamed event.) I was a panelist for the first of these roundtable discussions earlier this summer as one of the co-chairs of the Select Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias, and Community Safety. I am honored to have been asked to help lead this group that has been tasked with examining the deployment of University resources to address the profound social issues related to racism and bias that are pervasive in our nation, and specifically at Penn State. The commission will also seek to make concrete recommendations that will promote equitable recruitment, retention, teaching, and learning practices on campus, and support just communities for students, faculty, and staff on our Penn State campuses.

If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to read President Barron’s statement regarding the tragic shooting of Jacob Blake that occurred in Wisconsin last week. I share President Barron’s outrage and grief—it is disheartening to see these senseless acts of racial violence and social injustice continuing to occur with frightening regularity throughout our nation. However, my hope is that the Black Lives Matter demonstrations for racial and social justice that have occurred for the last few months are steps toward lasting solutions that produce just communities and a democratic society for all.

I am also pleased to see the recent steps that Penn State is taking to address racism, bias, and community safety, though I recognize that this is far from enough. Please visit the Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Penn State website to learn more about some of the initiatives that recently have been launched. I also look forward to the reviewing the recommendations that will be released later this month from the Penn State Community Survey that was conducted earlier this year, and finding ways to act on survey findings for our college and University.

As dean, I assure you that fostering a more inclusive and equitable working and learning environment for all students, faculty, and staff in our college remains one of my highest priorities. In return, I ask you as Liberal Arts students to commit yourselves to serious study, deep reflection, and thoughtful conversation about how we build a world that reflects our best values, aspirations, and human creativity, and also promotes democratic participation and social justice for everyone.

I look forward to talking with you again soon.


Dean Lang

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