April 16, 2020

Weekly Check-in (and an Invitation) from Dean Lang

Dear Liberal Arts Undergraduates:

My thanks to those of you who took the time to complete the remote learning survey (https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=RY30fNs9iUOpwcEVUm61LhCJRPBb_iVFir3zkzZEyEtUQ0Y4TjZBVlozVExMU0FTRElJQ1FWQkRZSS4u) I shared with you last week; I appreciated your thoughtful responses and was heartened to see the areas where you responded most favorably. Of particular note, most of you who responded to the survey agreed that:

  1. You have been able to access course materials.
  2. You have been able to participate in live-streamed courses and discussions.
  3. You were aware of the resources available at https://remotelearning.psu.edu (https://remotelearning.psu.edu/) .
  4. You were able to find help when having trouble with remote courses.
  5. You knew how to contact and schedule appointments with advisers.
  6. You think that college communications regarding the transition to remote learning have been clear.

I also appreciated your thoughtful feedback highlighting some areas in the remote learning environment where you still might be struggling. Nearly three-fourths of you, for example, expressed your preference to be “on campus” rather than online. We understand and appreciate where you are coming from in that regard – it has been an adjustment for faculty and staff as well, and we all look forward to that time we are all back on campus together.

There were also a few areas where you indicated that the college, quite honestly, could do better. I regret that a number of you noted that some instructors had added extra assignments to your workload, thereby making an already challenging learning environment even more difficult. Please know that we have since reminded instructors that now is not the time to be increasing the workload of your courses. If you still feel that is occurring, however, please share your concerns with your adviser so the college can look into the matter accordingly.

Many of you graduating next month have also shared your disappointment about the virtual celebration planned for what would have been spring commencement weekend. While I understand and appreciate your disappointment, I want to assure you that Penn State and the college have every intention of hosting some sort of on-campus commencement celebration for the spring Class of 2020 when it is safe and appropriate to do so; the virtual celebration taking place on May 9 is just an immediate way of recognizing you on what would have been commencement weekend under ordinary circumstances. We look forward to honoring you not once, but twice, in the period to come.

Again, may thanks to everyone who was able to respond to the survey. I am grateful for the feedback, and my hope today – as it is with each of my weekly updates – is that I have addressed some of your pressing concerns. I also realize, though, that I may not always know what concerns are most pressing on your mind. With that in mind, I invite you to join me for a Liberal Arts Student Check-in via Zoom webinar (https://psu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7aqdwavqQVCbIxfR3BwaIw) next Tuesday afternoon, April 21, at 3:00 p.m. EDT. The event will also be livestreamed on Facebook for those who are not able to watch via Zoom. The check-in is meant to be just that – a chance to see how you’re doing, and a chance for you to ask questions that are on your mind. While we will be monitoring questions during the event in Zoom chat, I strongly encourage you to submit your questions in advance to AskLiberalArts@psu.edu (AskLiberalArts@psu.edu) .

I look forward to talking with you virtually next week; until then, please continue to be safe, be well, be smart, and be careful.


Dean Lang