March 23 update from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear LAS Colleagues:

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world and in the United States, we all have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of ourselves, our families, our co-workers and our communities as best as we can. Social distancing is an important strategy to help achieve this goal, and yesterday’s announcement asking all employees to work from home, to the maximum extent possible, is designed to support social distancing.

Let me share a few general comments to help guide us through the next few weeks. Adaptability, flexibility and good communications will be key.

Everything we do is guided by our goals: First, to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff; and second, to provide academic continuity for our students so that they can finish out the semester.

Working remotely is a considerable change in operations for our college. Please take it seriously and consult with your department chair or supervisor about how this will affect you and your work responsibilities.

  • Please work from home to the maximum degree possible. This includes undergraduate student workers, graduate students and postdocs.
  • Supervisors should be flexible with work assignments for staff.
  • Only critical functions should be supported by on-campus personnel, for example, caring for animals and plants or supporting equipment with critical maintenance needs.
  • All meetings need to take place virtually.

A good resource can be found here: Your chair or your IT professional can help get you set up.

As faculty prepare to shift to online instruction, please keep the experience of your students up front and center. Not every student has broadband access, and not everyone has a laptop. Keep things simple.

  • Please minimize the use of synchronous instruction.
  • Please use open resources as much as possible, especially for lab courses. Different disciplines have lots of free material online, ISU’s Online Educational Resources and staff can help, and for chemistry and the life sciences, check out
  • Please communicate with your students, right around the end of spring break, on how your course will move online and what they should expect. Please keep in mind that students (and parents!) may be experiencing considerable anxiety around completing the semester, so please be as patient and responsive as you can.
  • CELT is the key campus resource for instructors working to provide course continuity. Their main site,, also includes information for students that can help you support them.

The day-to-day operations of our research programs will be significantly affected by the need to work remotely. For some faculty, this will involve minimal changes. For others, it will involve refocusing efforts, at least temporarily, to work that can be done remotely. We aim for very few, if any, people in research laboratories. Please consult with your department chair on what is reasonable and what is not under the new work-from-home policy, and keep the overall goal of everyone’s health and safety in mind. We will share more guidance as it becomes available.

As we all adjust to these dramatic changes, please remember that things will be different and that they will not – and need not – be perfect. I hope you will keep a sense of perspective, practice all health precautions and find time to relax – even as you juggle a new temporary working arrangement, possibly with kids home from school for several weeks. Please do let me know of any concerns or how we can help. Continued communication will be key as we learn more every day.

In the meantime, thank you for your continued good work and for playing a positive role in the LAS and Iowa State community.

My best wishes for continued good health and well-being,