Smeal Update: August 22, 2020

Smeal faculty deliver important “Mask Up or Pack Up” message to students in new video

  • A new video, managed by the Marketing and Public Relations team and produced by Smeal alumnus Nick Savino ‘18 MKTG, will augment the University’s important Mask Up or Pack Up campaign.
  • The video features 12 Smeal faculty members, who implore students to do their part in keeping the campus and Business Building safe this fall.
  • Faculty are encouraged to play the video in their classes to supplement the University’s health and safety directives. Here is a link to the video.

Penn State GO app now offers important information and resources for Smeal Students

  • The RIIT Group and Marketing and Public Relations teams have been hard at work developing a Smeal College of Business section of the Penn State GO mobile app.
  • This new section will help students get information about: remote learning resources, how to connect with an adviser, Business Building access and safety, preparation for career fairs and Business Career Center services, answers to other important concerns.
  • Simply download the Penn State Go app and click on the new “Academic Colleges” icon. 

Update on PPEs and disinfecting cleaning supplies

Personal protective equipment, as well as disinfecting cleaning supplies, will be delivered to faculty offices as soon as it arrives in the Business Building. Faculty members are reminded to clean high-touch teaching areas in classrooms, before and/or after each class.

Takeovers planned for Smeal Instagram account

The Marketing and Public Relations team is coordinating two takeovers of the Penn State Smeal Instagram account. The first, on Tuesday, will be executed by junior Finance major and Sapphire president Vivian Ward. She will give her followers an inside look at life on campus and inside the Business Building during the new “Mask up or Pack Up” fall semester environment. The second, on Wednesday and Thursday, will be executed by the Business Career Center to help students prepare for virtual career fairs. We encourage you to share this news with your personal social media followers, as well as followers of the college-related accounts many of you facilitate.

Big Bang Theory meets Business Building Atrium

  • During these unprecedented times, we want to make sure our students, faculty, and staff continue to feel connected and united. While many of us continue to work from home, we wanted to find a method where we could connect with our student population. The RIIT group created a “Sheldon” environment in the atrium (think Big Bang Theory!). We have three different computer stations where students may connect to a live Zoom session to ask questions. We are asking members of the Smeal community to sign up for a Smeal “Sheldon” Session during the first week of class. These are one-hour increments and participants will be provided a list of common FAQs, in addition to a list of departmental contacts and University-wide resources.  
  • If your schedule allows, please sign up for your session(s) here. You will receive a Zoom link shortly after signing up. 

Be mindful of the impact of stress on Smeal colleagues

  • The pandemic and other conditions have placed significant stress on individuals across Smeal and the University. Whether you are uncertain about the safety or status of your children’s school or childcare center, caring for an aging family member, or simply feeling isolated from several months of quarantine, balancing work and personal life has probably never felt more challenging.
  • Members of the Smeal community are encouraged to be attentive to the needs and stress levels of their colleagues and to extend support, flexibility and empathy where and when it is needed the most.
  • In addition, Human Resources maintains a list of options for those who are coping with emotional distress. If you or someone is in need of support, please reach out to Tamara Giluk; Vince Gray; or Stephanie Plummer.

Guidance on the Labor Day holiday from Human Resources

  • Because classes will be held on Labor Day, individual units will determine whether employees are required to work on Sept. 7.
  • For many Smeal staff, it will continue to be a paid holiday. However, staff members who are required to work that day will be compensated in accordance with HR34 (; see Nos. 4 and 5 under Holidays).
  • Please consult with your supervisor about your unit’s Labor Day staffing plan.

Kracaw, Crocker reappointed as department chairs

Bill Kracaw and Keith Crocker have been reappointed as chairs of the departments of Finance and Risk Management, respectively.

This month’s SAC You Rock! recipients announced

The Smeal Staff Advisory Council (SAC) has announced this month’s You Rock! Award recipients: Teri Ault and Darren Connor. Congratulations! Both Teri, the RIIT Group business manager, and Darren, a senior microcomputer systems consultant in the RIIT Group, have been working diligently in the Business Building throughout the pandemic.

Frequently-asked Questions for Smeal faculty and staff

A list of frequently-asked questions for Smeal faculty and staff has been added to the Penn State Smeal virus info website. Those questions and answers can be found at the top of the page under the Fall Semester Planning heading. In addition, Penn State maintains a complete list of FAQs related to fall 2020 instruction on the Keep Teaching website’s FAQ page.

Updates from Penn State

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Kathy Bieschke has been sending useful updates several times a week since early April. Those updates are full of helpful links and information. An archive of those Penn State Pandemic News Digest updates can be found online.

Some Frequently-asked Questions for PSU Faculty

How do I know if my building is safe?

Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) has been gearing up for the return to campus by carefully evaluating all building mechanical and life safety systems to ensure that they are 100 percent functional and ready for occupancy. As part of its facilities evaluation and practices, OPP follows guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and follows the recommendations of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
OPP has modified, where appropriate, how buildings operate to provide more ventilation, air flow and outdoor air being brought into buildings. Other steps include reviewing building records to determine current status and address any deficiencies in air distribution/air flow; maintaining indoor comfort with regard to temperature and humidity; transitioning to air filters that screen for fine particulate matter where the systems can handle it; and sponsoring UV disinfectant research for mechanical systems and exploring bipolar ionization systems that can deactivate harmful substances.

More information is available here.

Are my responses in the Symptom Checker anonymous?

Penn State's Symptom Checker is used to support personal wellness, by helping you make informed decisions about your health and the safety of others, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. No identifying information/data is stored within the Symptom Checker. Penn State will only use and share your anonymized survey responses for trend analysis to inform COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts, to support the health and safety of our Penn State community. More information is available here.

Are neck gaiters an acceptable type of face covering?

Multi-layer cloth masks or procedure masks are the preferred type of face covering. There is evidence that single-layer face coverings, including many types of neck gaiters, are not as effective in stopping respiratory droplets as multi-layer face coverings. At this time, it is recommended that all faculty, staff, and students wear a multi-layer mask or a procedure mask. All face coverings must cover the nose and chin, and masks with exhaust valves are not permitted.

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