VP Sims: Thanks to all who sacrificed individually for the good of the whole

Public Health Ambassadors at Penn State safely and strategically engage in dialogue with their peers about the importance of mask-wearing, physical distancing, and proper cough/hand hygiene, and to address questions and expectations surrounding health and safety guidelines at the University. Pictured here, from left to right: Matt Toner (business), Morgan Bosch (biology), and Alina Lisowitch (health policy and administration) Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

The many colleagues in the 30 administrative units in Student Affairs deeply appreciate all the ways our University community has come together in response to the pandemic. Faculty have adjusted their teaching; staff have accommodated new needs and expectations.  And all of us have found different ways to provide the services and programs for which Penn State is noted. We have sacrificed individually for the good of the whole.

But no constituency within the University community has pleased us more by its response to these challenges than our students themselves. Overwhelmingly, our students did what they had to do. They followed guidance, encouraged one another to adjust habits, and demonstrated a resilience some doubted they had, though we knew better. They navigated a strange terrain more sure-footedly than some of us, and they did it by pulling together, as one community. 

Our students have not always agreed with decisions made by the University administration or local authorities in response to the pandemic, and they have shared their occasional disagreement through their elected student governments and, personally, through town halls and other means, just as they should. We have learned much from them, and we hope they have gained greater understanding through their interactions with us. Community well-being is an ambition we all must share, and most of our students have repeatedly demonstrated responsible citizenship through the course of the pandemic.

With an end in sight, we are mindful that many weeks of challenge remain. It is likely that the obligations under which we all have operated and lived for so many months will still be with us when we can return to in-person experiences. When we do, we should be reminded that our shared experiences in the face of the virus are possible only because of our shared commitment to one another. We should return to our in-person interactions with gratitude for the efforts thus far. 

All of us in Student Affairs thank you — students, faculty, and staff alike — for all you have done and will continue to do to keep our community safe and together. "We are Penn State" has never seemed more true.

— Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs 

Last Updated December 18, 2020