March 11 college update from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear LAS faculty and staff,

The impact of the coronavirus on our community has escalated significantly over the last few days. At this time, there are no reported cases on Iowa State’s campus, but I know this is a stressful time for all of you – whether it is concerns about your health or the health of family and friends, about changes to your class delivery, or just general concern about the unknown.

It is easy to become frustrated as we face so many unanswered questions, but I want to assure you that many people are working extremely hard to make the most well-informed decisions. President Wintersteen and her entire leadership team, as well as all of us in the college, prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.

I strongly encourage you to read email updates from the president and other university officials, and seek out the many resources available on the university safety page: Now is the time to closely follow general university communications carefully, even if you only occasionally do so at other times.

We are fortunate to have a hard-working university team which has been preparing for the impact on Iowa State University since January, working diligently to make contingency plans for continuity in academic instruction, human resources, research, and health services, among other areas. I have been very impressed with their efforts. In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, my leadership team is meeting daily to discuss and respond to the rapidly changing environment.

Earlier today, President Wintersteen announced Iowa State University will move all classes online beginning Monday, March 23, for a period of time. You can find more details within her letter to faculty, staff and students.

This morning I met with all the department chairs in LAS, to discuss our best options in developing appropriate alternative course instruction. I commend faculty and staff for meeting the challenge of developing solutions within such an intense, short timeline.

Starting the week after Spring Break, I will send out weekly updates to connect you with university resources and to recap any college-specific news that emerges during the week. Following is a brief overview of some LAS programming changes that were made recently.

February 29 – March 10
When the CDC issued a Level 3 travel health notice for travel to Italy, the university placed a hold on all university-sponsored travel to Italy, and recalled all students, faculty and staff from Italy. This immediately followed prohibiting travel to China and South Korea.

I am happy to report that all LAS students, faculty and staff returned safely. Those affected include:

  • 20 students and one faculty member who were in Italy
  • 2 students in China

The following Spring Break trips were suspended:

  • Service Learning in the Caribbean: Belize (12 students)
  • Project Jamaica: Greek Affairs (17 students)
  • Netherlands: The Vermeer International Leadership Program (20 students)

March 11 – March 13
All LAS department chairs and program directors met on March 11 and will meet again on March 12 to discuss the impending move to online delivery of classroom instruction. Our goal is to ensure that students can receive credit for their course work and do not experience any graduation delays, while providing as much support and guidance to faculty as possible. If you are teaching or advising students, please do what you can to help us achieve these goals.

We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely, especially with regards to study abroad trips planned for summer.

Moving Forward

I know many of you will have questions about additional upcoming events or trips. An entire university workgroup was created to address both of these, and you will receive updates and guidance as soon as possible.

Again, I urge you to check for the most recent ISU updates on the university’s safety page: Details about the most recent decisions, including the extended international travel ban, event cancellations, details for students, and online course conversions can be found on the site. The page also contains some extremely helpful resources, including an expanding list of FAQ’s for various audiences.

As we navigate these challenges, I thank you again for your patience during a time when there are so many unanswered questions. Please utilize support services available to you at the university and college level.

Please also work to keep yourself and others healthy as best you can. As referenced on the university’s safety page — and as you may have read in other places — these are best practices we should all follow:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with tissues when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after use.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid spreading germs.
  • Improve your immune system by getting enough rest (eight hours is ideal), exercising regularly, and eating healthy.
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Instead of contact such as handshakes, give a wave to avoid spreading germs.

If you have questions about policies and procedures regarding the university response to coronavirus, you can contact Associate Dean Arne Hallam ( If you have questions about academic programming in LAS, your contact is Associate Dean Amy Slagell ( You are also welcome to email me (, and we will do our best to answer your questions or connect you to the appropriate university resources.

I wish you all the very best,
Beate Schmittmann
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Iowa State University