IUP Family:

I hope that you and your loved ones are well and that you are continuing to manage these difficult circumstances.

Last week, I shared some examples of the amazing ways in which the IUP family has come together to create our “new normal.” Today, I'd like to provide some updates.

  • Coursework is continuing online in new and innovative ways. If you haven't seen it already, read the story about how music professor Henry Wong Doe is teaching his classes.

  • Department of Art and Design faculty members Sean Derry and Sharon Massey are coordinating “The Quarantine Companion,” a project for teenagers and adults to create a fabric companion that will become part of a virtual exhibition.

  • Virtual tours and new ways to welcome students to IUP are in place for the Class of 2024.

  • In just two weeks, more than $135,000 has been raised through our generous IUP family for the Emergency Response Fund, designed to offer help to students in financial need caused by the pandemic. We have received more than 170 requests for assistance.

  • On-campus housing and support continue to be provided for international students who cannot yet return home and for students in emergency situations.

  • IUP's Department of History conducted the annual History Day for high school students via technology, enabling student winners to move on to the state competition.

  • The Career and Professional Development Center is continuing to prepare students for the next chapter in their lives; programs range from résumé review to virtual networking events and informational videos.

  • Tutoring and other educational support are continuing via technology, including real-time, virtual appointments offered by the Kathleen Jones White Writing Center.

  • Thousands of alumni are stepping up to help their communities—like Phillip Woods '00, D'17, a high school principal in the Woodland Hills School District, who, even in the face of required school closures, continues to stay in touch with teachers, students, and families with motivational tips and links to resources.

There's something that ties all of this together: an understanding of the value of community and a commitment to keeping those ties active and strong. That's just what Crimson Hawks do.

Because we need community, I know that being away from friends and family is hard. It's hard on all of us but may feel even more difficult for students who are used to being together. I'm asking you to please be patient, stay the course, and continue to take very seriously the directive to stay physically away from each other. Experts agree that it's the best way to “flatten the curve” and lessen the chance of spreading the virus. Think of it this way: the more we do now to follow guidelines on social distancing, the faster we can get back to being with each other in the traditional ways that we all miss.

I also ask that you be responsible in sharing information on social media. It's a wonderful way to offer concerns and maintain connections, but please get information about the coronavirus from sources like the Centers for Disease Control or the Department of Health. Rumors and misinformation, often offered with the best of intentions, can cause undue panic and anxiety that result in people making decisions that create a strain on our medical systems. Health professionals are the best source of information on whether you should seek medical attention or testing for the virus. Please listen to their advice.

We have provided information to you about our May commencement ceremonies and will communicate with you via email, the IUP website, and IUP social media channels on next steps. Work on the refund process is ongoing, with the expectation that refunds will begin to be distributed the week of April 6. Thank you for your patience as we take time to ensure that the process is thoughtful and equitable.

My advice from last week's message still stands: Students, focus on your studies. Faculty and staff members, stay the course and continue to work together and treat each other well. Everyone, reach out for help when you need it.

Let's remind the world what a Crimson Hawk can do, even in very challenging circumstances.

Michael A. Driscoll