Dear LAS Faculty and Staff,
This weekend was unlike any other graduation weekend I’ve ever experienced.
For several weeks we lamented the loss of traditional commencement pomp and circumstance; we sympathized with students who felt shortchanged by the pandemic. But if you tuned into this weekend’s celebrations I’m sure you were delightfully surprised and possibly rejuvenated as I was.
Friday night more than 500 people tuned in for our virtual LAS Convocation celebration. Students, families, friends, faculty and staff participated via live messaging as the video featured nostalgic images of campus, video messages, scrolling graduate names and photos with personal statements submitted by the students themselves. Although we couldn’t celebrate together in Hilton Coliseum, you could clearly sense the joy and pride everyone felt as the video played.
You can view the video and streaming comments here, see congratulatory videos from our departments here, and check out more fun content on the LAS Convocation website. You just might see something that sparks a little inspiration, like this message from Criminal Justice Studies graduate Ariadna Delgado:
“Less than 6% of Mexican immigrants obtain a college degree but I did it.”
Thank you to all the faculty and staff who submitted congratulatory messages for the website, who participated in the live messaging, and thank you to the LAS communications team for creating a spectacular virtual event.
I also want to thank all the faculty and staff who helped our graduates successfully complete this semester! I mentioned our advising staff last week, and today I want to recognize our departmental Directors of Graduate Education (DOGE) across the college. Thank you for your extra efforts to help our graduate students continue their research and forge ahead on their academic path. I appreciate the extra time expended to help students who were feeling isolated or overwhelmed find the support and balance to succeed. And many thanks to Leslie Hogben, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, for coordinating that support.
So many played a part in the success of our students this year, even our alumni and friends. In recent years we have received increased donor-funded faculty and student support. But no one could have predicted the extent to which students would be stretched this semester.
In addition to our scholarships, I am proud to report we awarded just over $75,000 in Success Grants, special emergency funds available to students. Established just a few years ago, this program helps students pay their U-bill when they encounter a financial emergency. Christie Oxendine, LAS Director of Multicultural Student Success, took emergency assistance a step further when she delivered grocery gift cards to 28 students who were facing food insecurity after the COVID-19 crisis struck. These are extraordinary examples of the LAS community’s deep-rooted passion for student success.
As we say goodbye to students for the summer, it’s a good time to take a breath and think about yourself. Remember there are resources available from Iowa State in addition to many local community resources. I know this is still a busy time for staff, especially for our finance teams preparing for summer operations and next year’s budgets.
I’m sure you are wondering about the fall semester – we all are. Given the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, the university is considering a full range of scenarios to maintain academic continuity for our students. Iowa State’s fall planning team will examine many contingencies, with input from faculty, staff and student leaders. Their planning will follow guiding principles that include prioritizing health and safety, evaluating and mitigating risk and continuing online options to support students who can’t travel back to campus. We expect to hear details about teaching and returning to campus later this summer.
For now, we will continue to wrap up this semester off campus, with grades due tomorrow. I hope after this week many of you can slow your pace for a bit, as you plan ahead for the summer. I will adjust the frequency of my messages to every other week, but based on positive feedback, I will continue to include photos of Micah. I’ve really enjoyed hearing from you and the photos you’ve shared with me.
If you’re interested in a few more LAS furry friends, check out the Department of History’s video they produced for graduates. And here’s my photo of Micah. It looks like she and Associate Dean Arne Hallam have started a meeting without me.
With my best wishes for your health,