April 20 message from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements
Deer walking on snowy path next to a bird feeder and snow-covered branches

Dear LAS faculty and staff,

Last week this was the scene outside my temporary home office window. As I made my commute from the kitchen up the stairs today, I thought about the similarities between Friday, when I took the picture, to the situation we’ve been experiencing. That day, a delicate blanket of snow transitioned to a sunny, green landscape by noon. But despite the contrast in weather, the day held the constant of collaboration, communication, and progress – just like the Friday before.

Most of us have been working remotely for a month now, and while some things have been difficult, we’ve figured out how to move forward, and still continue the excellent work in the college. Some challenges compelled us to acquire new skills, develop innovative ideas, or uncover possibilities we never knew existed.

Certainly one thing I’ve seen is how important liberal arts and sciences are to the world. The breadth of our work has impact in so many areas.

In response to COVID-19, our students began helping each other, creating resources for online coursework and COVID-19. Yumou Qiu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics, was interviewed about his work with colleagues on a mathematical model that helps predict the spread of a virus like COVID-19. Volker Hegelheimer, Chair and Professor in the Department of English, was asked by the U.S. Department of State to extend the offering of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that he teaches with two graduate students, as they felt the course held incredible value for educators worldwide. In the course, language instructors learn how to apply technology to improve their teaching – especially online – and ways to collaborate online with other educators.

As we progress toward the end of the semester, our typical milestones look and feel quite different. We’ve added a resource document from the Provost’s office about finals and prep week, to the LAS COVID-19 resources page. Another major milestone, graduation, is quickly approaching, and we are preparing an online LAS Convocation event for our students. If you would like to send a congratulatory wish to graduates, please use the submission link on the LAS Convocation web page. A link on the page will go live on Friday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m. for graduates, family, friends, faculty and staff to celebrate our graduating seniors in a video event.

This week I hope you will find the time to reach out to colleagues, students, faculty and/or staff. I’ve enjoyed learning a little more about many of you in LAS and others at Iowa State through the lens of a computer camera. Video meetings have been enhanced by stray Nerf darts or parent requests, and your pets have stolen the show many, many times! Below is a photo of Micah, my tabby, who has really enjoyed her new role on camera.

Tabby sitting on surface indoors

Thank you again for all you continue to do, no matter what each day brings. Please do take care of yourself, enjoy those unexpected moments, and keep in touch.

With all my best,