March 30 message from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear LAS faculty and staff,

I want to begin today’s update with a heartfelt thank you for all your hard work in making the first week of online courses – and the continuation of other important activities in LAS – a success. We not only successfully met an important milestone in this shift – we did it extraordinarily well.

I know it has not been easy, but your efforts have paid off.

I hope you took a few minutes to read a few anecdotes about some of our successes in last week’s edition of Around LAS. We heard from many departments that reported excellent experiences with online teaching technology and even some positive feedback from students. Some, like Steve Butler, Barbara J. Janson Professor in Mathematics, were touted for their creativity in transitioning courses online. Faculty and staff in the Departments of English and World Languages and Cultures were highlighted for their foresight and selfless support of students and instructors. President Wintersteen even recognized the value of a little humor produced by Matthew Wetstein, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Our commitment to provide a high-quality virtual learning environment, reinforced by a resolution from the Iowa State University Faculty Senate, remains a high priority, and both LAS and university leadership continue to develop resources for support. Associate Dean Amy Slagell will send follow-up details to faculty about the temporary Pass/Not Pass policies; how to prevent online course disruptions like Zoombombing; and other helpful information. Please note that Provost Wickert announced a Pass/Not Pass policy specifically for graduate students today.

I commend all of you who have already reached out to all your students and/or advisees to check in with them, and encourage those who haven’t to do so. As you have likely experienced yourself, the stress from the pandemic reveals itself differently for each individual. Please keep an open mind as you discover the varying needs and experiences of students and of your peers. Flexibility, compassion and collaboration will help students succeed and make the LAS community stronger.

Please also remember that many of our graduate students have dual roles as both students and employees. In the latter role, as TA’s and RA’s, recent changes have likely placed extra burdens on them, as they have on you. If you are teaching a graduate class, please be flexible with deadlines and with how student work is carried out.

While it’s critical for you to read emails from President Wintersteen and check the university COVID-19 safety page and Provost’s page when you have a question, we also created an LAS resource page. Here you will find both ISU and LAS-specific resources for students, faculty and staff.

I hope you are all adjusting well to your new environments, but recognize we are still encountering rapid change. I appreciate your continued work as you acclimate to the changes in your personal lives at the same time. I am proud of the innovation emerging all over the college as we transition to a temporary new normal.

If you observe innovation or extra efforts among your peers, I encourage you to share them in the new “kudos” section of Around LAS. Just send them to:, and I love to hear these stories, too – so consider sending them to me as well.

With my best regards,