Turning One Corner, Then Another

I know you’ve received many more messages from IUP since COVID-19 slammed into our country and affected our way of life. We believe connecting more, not less, is the best course of action right now.

While we’ve adapted quickly to the pandemic, we are considering what comes next—both how we plan for a future that allows us to continue the important work of preparing tomorrow’s best humans and doing so with a possible resurgence of coronavirus.

Our academic community mobilized with due haste and efficiency in response to the global pandemic—all with an unwavering focus on serving our students. Within the span of about a week, our professors had all classes ready to deliver remotely. It was a mad dash with the support of our IT Services area, and everyone met a very stringent deadline.

Our student services areas, in partnership with facilities, custodial services, and the police, safely moved our students out of housing and then made counseling and tutoring available online as well as activities that students find vital to feel a sense of community.

Our admissions area continues to keep the next class of IUP students engaged through online visitation events, while the University Advancement Division launched the Emergency Response Fund, with a lead gift from Terry Serafini ’61 of $50,000, matched by Tim ’73 and Deb Cejka ’73, and an additional $15,000 from the Alumni Association to assist students who have been affected financially. The division also developed the IUP Cares resources page with help from alumni and other members of the IUP community.

The Marketing and Communications Division pivoted in an instant to focus on keeping the entire university family up to date and the Division of Student Affairs established the Student Support and Engagement Team to maintain connections with students.

Right now, we are hopeful and planning for the beginning of the next academic year to take place face to face, but we must be prepared for other scenarios.

In the next few weeks, many of our faculty and staff members are headed to Summer Academy, a learning experience that will enable them to take the excellent work that occurs in a face-to-face setting, polish and perfect it, minus the rush, for a longer span online, if needed. They will hone their skills in technology-assisted education, for fully online courses or to enhance courses offered in more traditional venues, and to reach out to those who need to retool and gain new skills to succeed in a post-pandemic economy.

As the adaptation continues, we also must carry on the work of transforming IUP in changing times—those times that were changing before COVID-19.

By now, you will have received in the mail a copy of my 2019 report, which is, ironically, called Making an Impact in Changing Times.  

When we developed the report, we felt that we had moved very quickly to meet the changing needs of today’s students. If I’ve learned one lesson during this pandemic, it is that our university community is, indeed, nimble, ready, and able to take on the challenge of implementing those plans. Regardless of what the virus dictates, we will move forward, armed with strategic and sustainability plans, toward our vision of being the student-centered university that will best serve generations to come.

Thank you for your continued counsel and well wishes. Just as we always will be here for our students, we also are here for you, a valued member of the university community. Please leave a comment or question. Always, we are glad to hear from you.

Stay well!

Michael Driscoll

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