Fall 2020 Alumni Magazine message from Dean Kimberly A. Lawless

November 17, 2020

When I wrote to you in the spring Alumni Magazine about the abrupt switch to remote learning as the coronavirus pandemic hit, I never imagined we would still be working through a pandemic disruption this fall … but here we are.

In the midst of these disrupted, turbulent times, with the pandemic forcing changes to the way we teach and learn, combined with a new national focus on equity — particularly for persons of color — we as a college have made a commitment to actively dismantle persistent, systemic inequities while continuing to focus on providing the most exceptional educational experiences possible for students under the current circumstances, regardless of the mode of course delivery.

With that charge, I am pleased to announce the hiring of five new faculty members into the college — all of whom will help drive the actions needed to make a meaningful difference toward societal change, while simultaneously helping to keep the Penn State College of Education at the forefront of teaching, research and service. Their presence will strengthen the professional preparation programs we offer as they move us toward our goals of changing education by educating for change, and making transformative improvements in the field of education. You can meet these new members of our faculty starting on page 2.

This summer we created a college action plan to conduct a critical review of our curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with an eye toward identifying and addressing issues of inequity. That process is underway now, and is accompanied by a reorganization of the Office of Education and Social Equity. You can learn more about both of those initiatives inside these pages.

It has been great to see our students back on campus, even in this throttled, masked, socially distanced way. They bring life and energy to our buildings, and I didn’t realize just how much I missed them until they returned. I am co-teaching an in-person first-year seminar this fall, and it’s been wonderful to connect with our freshmen. Some of them shared with us how they’re adapting to this most unusual fall semester. Read what they have to say starting on page 4.

Elsewhere in this magazine, you can hear from some of our faculty what it’s been like to teach their courses in this semester like no other. Learn how our alumni and development teams pivoted to remote engagement with you, our alumni and friends. Find out about Penn State First programs, which are enabling some of our international students who have been unable to leave their home countries due to the pandemic to remain enrolled and learning at Penn State.

Starting with this edition, our Alumni Magazine features an expanded section on research, and we’ve added a section on impact to highlight the many ways our college, with help from our alumni and friends, is working to change lives.

Another change brought on by the pandemic is that, like the spring Alumni Magazine, this magazine is coming to you in digital form only. You can read our stories individually on Penn State News, or you can read the digital magazine in its entirety on issuu.com. For those of you who prefer a print publication, there is an option on issuu.com to download the magazine as a PDF file, which you then can print at home. While it’s not quite the same as having a magazine that looks good on your coffee table, I sincerely hope you will be able to enjoy reading the stories we have prepared for you, in whichever form you decide to read them.

As always, I appreciate your feedback, which you can send to edrelations@psu.edu.


Kimberly A. Lawless

Last Updated November 17, 2020