Dean Kump: Thanks to everyone for continuing to help our college excel

The obelisk on the University Park campus of Penn State. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

When Penn State pivoted to remote learning during Spring Break, faculty and staff in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ John A. Dutton e-Education Institute were already weeks into a plan to assist faculty members with the transition.

Dutton Institute learning designers, working with colleagues across Penn State, had previously developed a virtual-learning resource to ensure continuity of instruction during inclement weather. This certainly wasn’t a snow day. But their work, complete with teaching tools from hundreds of professionals with decades of experience creating courses for the virtual world, helped ease the transition to remote learning and enhanced the experience of our students.

Their resilience and commitment echoed across the college in the following months, as our students, faculty and staff, despite experiencing a crash course in Zoom, each made incredible contributions to help us deliver on our mission under stressful conditions.

Students took clubs online, faculty hosted virtual field trips and poster sessions and staff helped ensure important events like our first-year orientation, Total Engagement with EMS (TEEMS) and our annual student-run open house, Earth and Mineral Sciences Exposition (EMEX), could take place virtually.

Through these challenges, we found that we were able expand participation and reach new audiences with virtual versions of our events. We need to avail ourselves of technological advances like this in the future to enhance our in-person events, which will return.

Months into the pandemic, daily challenges remain, and spring semester may continue to look different as we wait for the virus to be under control. But as we address these challenges, we continue to plan ahead, taking the lessons we are learning and asking how we might emerge a better place to work and learn. Two lessons are clear: it is important to be considered essential, and we benefit from being resilient.

Together in 2020, our college and University communities have experienced extraordinary challenges and triumphs. As the holidays approach, it is important to take time to recognize all we have experienced and achieved this last year. We’d like to offer a thank you to all our students, staff and faculty who continue to make this college excel.

—Lee Kump, John Leone Dean in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences


Last Updated December 17, 2020