March 20, 2020
Dear LSA community, parents and guardians, and friends,
As our campus, country, and world continue to respond to the global COVID-19 crisis, I wanted to share my priorities and focus for the LSA community and provide links to helpful resources and sources of updated information.
The safety, health, and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff are our absolute top priority. The university has moved all classes to remote formats, canceled campus events, suspended all university international travel, and taken other steps to create the social distancing that is key to slowing the spread of the virus. (Learn more about the university’s response and latest updates on the Key Issues page.)
Next in our line of priorities is the quality and continuity of our teaching, learning, and research. All LSA faculty, staff, and administrators are committed to ensuring that students continue to have a rich and rewarding educational experience, with as little disruption as possible.
In a matter of days we’ve worked to move more than 4,000 courses—serving over 20,000 students—into online instruction. I am deeply impressed by and grateful for the ways our community is rising to this challenge. Our technology teams are building up capacity quickly. We’re providing students with additional computers through our Laptop Program and working with those who may have limited internet access—we need to work to ensure that all students have fully equitable access to their education, especially in emergencies. For students in financial need who are facing emergency circumstances, please apply for emergency funds through LSA Emergency Scholarships.
We know that a lot will go wrong, in addition to going right. We have teams prepared to help faculty and students adapt. We ask for patience and generosity from the entire community as we continue to keep our educational mission moving forward in the face of this unprecedented situation.
Our faculty, staff, and students, like everyone, are experiencing a broad range of emotions right now, including fear, disappointment, and frustration. Thinking about our students in particular, it is heartbreaking to know that for our seniors, this is an abrupt end to their time here, and they won’t be able to experience a timely commencement. Students on study abroad or other travel opportunities, or conducting certain lab work, had their experiences cut short. Student-athletes will not be able to complete their seasons or compete for a championship. First-year and transfer students who had recently arrived on campus and were just finding their feet have now had their footing shaken.
We know the life-changing power of the learning experiences on campus, and we share very keenly the sense of loss and disappointment so many members of the college—students, faculty, and staff—are feeling. Our best source of support is community, and we encourage people to connect virtually or over the phone with peers, faculty, advisors and mentors, friends, and family. Key student support services also continue to run, and we will be urging students to make use of them even when they are not on campus. These resources include the Counseling and Psychological Services, Dean of Students Office, Newnan Academic Advising Center, Sweetland Center for Writing, Services for Students with Disabilities (includes a guide for remote academic accommodations), and more.
I truly believe that we as a community are ready to rise to this challenge. And I look forward to the day when we can all return to the classrooms and to our commitment to in-person instruction and work connections.
But wherever it happens—on campus or online—the heart of LSA’s liberal arts and sciences education remains the same. We explore boldly, we ask hard questions, we examine the workings of the human and natural worlds, we reach across to understand people very different from ourselves, and we test and retest hypotheses to get at facts. I believe these are the very values and approaches the world needs most to overcome this emergency. I’m proud that in LSA we are committed to them, and I promise that we are equally dedicated to the continued thriving of all our students, faculty, and staff.
Please take good care of yourselves and those around you, and thank you for your support, encouragement, and compassion.
Anne Curzan, Dean