Smeal Update: September 4, 2020

College committed to action on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues

  • Earlier this week, I shared my continued frustration over the unequal and unfair treatment of people of color across America and encouraged the Smeal Community to join me in making our college a shining example of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the entire University Community. If you missed it, you may read my entire message here.
  • While there is much work to do, we are making progress on several fronts. Smeal’s Diversity Task Force is nearing completion of a Diversity Statement that will reflect student, staff, and faculty viewpoints. The College is also exploring the possibility of conducting bias training developed by Dell.

Undergraduate education pivots to planning for fall 2021 recruitment

Just two weeks into the new semester, Undergraduate Education has shifted some of its focus to future recruitment efforts. Felisa Higgins, assistant dean for undergraduate education, said that the list of admissions events is growing, although the University’s shift to a test-optional admissions process has presented new challenges.

Honor Code celebration planned for next week

Smeal will celebrate its culture of honor and integrity through various activities next week. Please consider participating in as many of the following events as possible:

  • Sign the Honor Code and post the confirmation graphic you receive on your social media accounts. 
  • Faculty members, please take 2-3 minutes at the start of your classes this week to talk to your students about honor and integrity, share the link (, and encourage them to sign the Honor Code in that moment. You may also reinforce this message by posting an announcement on Canvas.
  • Follow Smeal’s social media channels (InstagramFacebook Twitter, LinkedIn) and share posts, which highlight commitments by faculty, students, staff, and alumni.
  • Attend the webinar “Choosing a Professional Path,” sponsored by the Tarriff Center, on Sept. 9. The webinar will explore the importance of aligning personal values with the decision to pursue a professional journey in a specific industry or for a particular company. It will also critically reflect on Smeal’s role in the recruitment process.  Register now for this event.

Help spread the word about Mask Up Or Pack Up campaign

To help augment the University’s Mask Up or Pack Up campaign, Smeal is asking for help from the community. Complete this online form to help the marketing and communications team gather photos and quotes to craft social media messages that reinforce efforts to keep the campus community safe.

Some frequently-asked questions for PSU faculty

Will “classroom recordings” (as defined by University policy AD40) created by faculty and staff during the Spring 2020 semester and 2020-2021 Academic Year be reused by the University beyond the semester in which they were created?

Penn State revised policy AD40, Recording of Classroom Activities and Note-Taking Services, to reflect the extraordinary conditions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional language has been added to the policy that specifies that “classroom recordings” (as defined by University policy AD40), created by faculty and staff during the Spring 2020 semester and 2020-2021 Academic Year, will not be reused by the University beyond the semester in which they were created without the prior written authorization of the recorded faculty or staff.

Other news of importance

  • Initial testing results released Aug. 28 on Penn State’s public COVID-19 dashboard consisted of 14 positive cases from symptomatic testing and 13 positive cases from surveillance testing, for a total of 27 positive test results at the University Park campus for the period from Aug. 21-27. In addition, test results from the weekend as well as new results from the prior week have been reported. The dashboard is available here.
  • University Health Services has completed upgrades and renovations that will allow Penn State to more quickly and effectively diagnose students with coronavirus symptoms. One major element is the Abbott testing equipment, which the University recently installed and validated, now available for use.
  • Classes will be held on Labor Day. More information about expectations regarding employees’ work schedules for that day is available here.