Dear LAS faculty and staff,
In a typical spring semester, this week we would be meeting with our students one last time – for finals or projects; tying up loose ends in the office; or maybe preparing for summer research conferences. I would be pulling out my regalia for Commencement, congratulating students at receptions and thinking about what I need to accomplish over the summer.
But this semester has been anything but typical. I know the changes and disruptions have felt different for each and every one of you, and that you, too, may be thinking about what this week “should” be like. But we made it to the end of the semester because everyone adapted, innovated and endured. I can’t say it too many times – thank you for your part in getting our students to the finish line.
If you are teaching classes this semester, I ask one more thing of you. Please be particularly empathetic with your students as they work through the most stressful week of their semester – possibly the most stressful week of their academic career so far. Be gentle, be kind.
This semester it is also more important than ever to turn in students’ grades on time, as they will need to view their grades before making a quick decision regarding the temporary pass/not pass policy. We’re asking all instructors to please make sure your department chair has your cell phone or emergency phone number in case someone needs to reach you regarding grades.
For many, one of the most difficult elements of grappling with the pandemic has been the unprecedented level of uncertainty. While it may be frustrating, some questions about Iowa State University’s operations during the fall semester simply can’t be answered yet.
President Wintersteen established an Executive Committee for Fall Planning to map out the university’s path forward. Coordinating with workgroups representing faculty, staff and students, the Executive Committee’s priority focus will be on classroom teaching, academic support, residence halls and dining, health and safety, and research support for the fall semester. We will keep you posted as more information becomes available.
In the meantime, we have plenty to celebrate. Many departments and programs are holding virtual events like the World Languages and Cultures 2020 Awards Ceremony. The Biological and Pre-Medical Illustration program, co-administered with our friends in the College of Design, is recognizing outstanding students online. You’ve got to see the beautiful work from three award-winning students. It will lighten your day.
We can also celebrate LAS faculty and staff selected to receive university awards for their excellence! I am delighted to see the number of individuals from our college who will be honored in the fall. It’s also a great pleasure to congratulate LAS term faculty who were advanced to the next rank, under ISU’s new term faculty policies.
I’m so impressed with the hard work I see in the college. Our advisers, for example, have been working tirelessly to help our students finish the semester and prepare for the next. Graduate students have stepped up to continue their research, working remotely or practicing social distancing in their labs. And last week LAS faculty represented one-third of all presenters speaking at a COVID-19 Research Networking Event.
You’ve accomplished so much in a diverse range of work-from-home environments, and now you can take a peek at what that looks like for your colleagues. Thanks to everyone who submitted a photo of your temporary workspace, or your temporary office mates!
Here’s a photo of my favorite office mate, Micah. Like many of you, she’s adapting to a new routine. While it may not be quite as cozy as this, please continue to make connections, and support each other as we navigate our next steps.
With my best wishes for a delightful summer,