IUP Family:

We're almost there!

While health and safety precautions prevent us from being together for the events that traditionally mark the end of the academic year, the celebrations--perhaps more appreciated and necessary this year than ever before--are continuing.

Departmental awards and recognitions are happening. We've received almost 350 messages from parents, faculty and staff members and alumni for a video tribute to our May 2020 graduates. We will share it this weekend along with video congratulations from Provost Moerland and me. Thank you to all who have worked hard to mark these milestones in the lives of our students and our university in new and innovative ways while managing all of the changes necessitated by the pandemic. We look forward to continuing our celebration of our graduates and their families and friends at our on-campus ceremony on September 12.

These last three months have created major twists and turns in all of our plans. Sometimes, I've been frustrated, and I'd guess you have been, too. What has sustained me is an IUP family that has worked very hard, has shown great grace under pressure, and that cares for one another. For example, in just 50 days, the IUP family has raised more than $190,000 for the Emergency Response Fund, which helps students in financial distress caused by the pandemic. We also have stepped up to be part of the national Giving Tuesday Now event (yesterday) to support our students. Thank you. While more than 250 students have received support through the Emergency Response Fund, there is still additional need, so your gifts are welcome.

Because of the shift to distance learning, we've had the opportunity to help our community health-care providers with a donation of personal protective equipment that would normally have been used in face-to-face classes. We are working to develop a process through 3-D printing to provide testing swabs for our medical community. Stay tuned for more on this important initiative. These are just a few things that make me so proud to be a member of this extraordinary community.

IUP has been fortunate to receive an allocation through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security program (CARES Act), which gives federal funding to institutions to provide emergency funds to students who have experienced unexpected educational expenses as a result of disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. We are working out details of a distribution plan for these funds in accordance with the federal guidelines associated with this program. We anticipate that qualifying students will receive this aid by May 15. We will provide more information to students later this week.

Yesterday, we distributed to students a survey asking for opinions about IUP's helpfulness through the pandemic. As schedules permit, I ask students to complete and return this survey by Monday, May 11. While this survey focuses on our response to this immediate health crisis, we will use answers to continue our culture shift to being student-centered in all that we do.

To our students: good luck on finals. Please keep your focus and finish strong. I believe in you. Please continue to reach out for help and support. Contact us at iup-hawks@iup.edu.

To our faculty and staff members: thank you for continuing to put students first in your work during these trying times.

Remember, even though we are physically apart, we are all in this together.

I hope that you and your loved ones continue to be safe and well.

Michael A. Driscoll