Smeal Update: August 14, 2020

Smeal Diversity Task Force commits to more action items

  • The Diversity Task Force is working on a Diversity Statement that will be shared with the Smeal community in the fall semester. However, in the short term, it has committed to initiate some or all of the following steps:
    • Hold a Smeal town hall with alumni, where the current staff and faculty can hear directly what our community is feeling, seeing and experiencing 
    • As a college, set specific measurable outcomes we want to achieve, and then set an action plan to achieve those outcomes 
    • Investigate the reason behind, and what we can do to address, the gap between the racial make-up of Pennsylvania as a whole and the racial make-up of Smeal students 
    • Commit to a multi-year training program where our faculty and staff will learn about the history of injustices done to minorities, how those injustices continue to this day in the classroom and in business, and what we can do to address those injustices 
    • Research best practices by companies in diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • Build an inclusive culture that welcomes, respects, and celebrates diversity

Activity Insight Training for Faculty will be held via Zoom

Activity Insight Training for Faculty will be held via Zoom only for the fall 2020 semester. Four sessions have been planned: 9:30-11 a.m. on Aug. 24-25 and 2:30-4 p.m. on Aug. 26-27. A recorded session will be available at for later viewing.

A reminder to enter and submit July 4 comp time

Smeal full-time staff are reminded to enter and submit Comp Time Earned for July 4. You cannot earn that comp time until it is submitted to your manager for approval. Please reach out to Stephanie Plummer or Vince Gray for assistance. You can also reach out to HR Services at (814) 865-1473. 

Next Smeal Community Zoom Session planned

As a reminder, the next Smeal Community Zoom Session has been planned for 3:30-4:20 p.m. Wednesday, August 19th. If you are able to attend, connect via this link.

New video features best practices for safe return to campus

The University last week released a new video to promote a safe return to Penn State’s classrooms on Aug. 24. This video provides guidance on the use of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the classroom and on campus to mitigate risk for instructors, staff and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the Penn State community are encouraged to view the video.

Some Frequently-asked Questions from PSU Faculty

Will faculty and staff be required to sign a compact or waiver similar to the student compact?

No, Penn State employees are not required to sign a waiver or compact. Some faculty who enter LionPATH through Self-Service, rather than through the Faculty Center or Home Base, may see the Compact, but they do not have to sign it. If you have any Compact-related questions, please contact

I know that I, and everyone in my class, is required to wear a mask at all times. How do I find information on the best type of mask for my teaching situation?

The task group on Instruction, Universal Masking and PPE Recommendations has just released an updated report that provides guidance on different types of masks and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in a wide range of instructional settings to ensure the safety of our faculty, staff and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The task group further sought to balance the need for an instructor to be heard intelligibly for in-person instruction while also being mindful that students may be participating through the remote environment, made recommendations regarding the accommodation of disabilities, and examined different instructional settings ranging from traditional classrooms to laboratories and performance spaces. The full report and detailed recommendations are available here.

You can read other FAQs related to Fall 2020 instruction on the Keep Teaching website’s FAQ page.

Key reminders

  • Students are required to agree to the Penn State Coronavirus Compact, which is now available in LionPATH. The compact – which all undergraduate and graduate students at every campus location must sign before returning to Penn State or beginning classes – outlines health and safety expectations and requirements for the upcoming semester.
  • faculty and staff COVID-19 symptom checker is now part of a new employee-centered experience in the Penn State Go app. In addition to the symptom checker, the new Faculty and Staff Experience will feature access to Penn State email, Canvas Teacher, a link to Workday, and more.
  • The State College Borough Council passed a temporary ordinance, supported by Penn State, that mandates mask wearing and social distancing in most instances and limits the size of gatherings in the borough.
  • Penn State faculty are encouraged to continue submitting questions via this online form so leadership can respond to them in upcoming communication, such as this news digest for faculty.