As the world continues to react to the ongoing global pandemic, I wanted to tell you how proud I am to be a part of this extended family.  

When you think back to the start of the semester, I expect you had particular aspirations. If you were just beginning your studies with Penn State World Campus or you were wrapping up your degree with one final semester (congratulations, graduates!), or you were somewhere in between, I expect you started this semester with anticipation — not just for what you would learn, but who would be in your classes and discussion groups and partner with you on projects. And then in the middle of the semester so much changed. For some of you it might have been gradual, and others abrupt. COVID-19 altered everything, and in different ways for each of us. What each learner encountered, and each instructor planned, and each support staff member faced was not “business as usual.” But we found it in ourselves, and perhaps because of those around us, to take each day as it came, do our best, and make progress. 

I recognize that you do not attend Penn State World Campus in a vacuum. The global spread of COVID-19 will continue to affect us all personally and professionally, including in your role as a student and member of the Penn State community. We strive to support and encourage you throughout this difficult time. Seeing you reach your academic goals as you take care of others, serve our nation, work, and contribute to your communities continues to inspire me and remind me why I’m so honored to play a small part in your story. Heading into summer, you may continue to face additional challenges, with children at home who need help with their own new world of remote learning or work commitments that are spilling over into study time, or you may be under additional financial stress. Regardless of your situation, we are here to help. Several weeks ago, we shared with you some resources that are available to you. We continue to update information, so please refer to the resources that are listed in the March 20 blog, as those links can help address your concerns surrounding COVID-19 and your Penn State experience.

Like so many other institutions, almost all of our staff are working remotely to do our part to keep the community safe and healthy, but I assure you we’re still dedicated to offering all of the services you expect and more. Our student-facing units — including advisers, admissions counselors, student affairs, and the HelpDesk — are ready to answer questions. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our offices.  

Now, as this semester draws to a close, it may be difficult to remember the start of this semester, which seems like ages ago. But I hope you will take a few minutes to reflect on what you have encountered, accomplished, and learned. In my case, I encountered many people who became educators to me and many experiences that made me stronger. I learned to be more flexible, more patient, more tolerant. And I became much more attuned to the strengths of others — their creativity, teamwork, fortitude, kindness, and compassion. Perhaps you observed the same. And just perhaps what you thought you were going to learn this semester has been augmented in profound ways by these other unanticipated lessons. 

Thank you for your resilience in the face of such a difficult situation. And please remember that the safety and health of you and the rest of our community is our first priority right now. Stay positive, stay informed, and stay safe.