In just a few weeks, we will be welcoming students to our campus, Penn State Brandywine, for the Fall 2020 semester. This year will feature many of the traditions of the beginning of any academic year; but, this year will also include several new and redesigned elements as we look to deliver high-quality educational experiences and continue our land-grant mission, with health and safety as our top priority.
With the expert leadership of our Housing and Food Services and Student Affairs teams, our first-year students will be moving into Orchard Hall on Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20, followed by our returning students on Sunday, August 23. New features will include prescheduling for optimal social distancing, contactless check-in, grab-and-go meals, and expanded outdoor seating areas, among other innovations. Now entering our fourth year as a residential campus, Orchard Hall continues to be quite popular among students. We anticipate being at full capacity again this Fall!
Our new and returning students who commute each day will begin arriving on campus on Friday, August 21 as we kick off our “Weeks of Welcome.” New this year, many activities will be outdoors and virtual. We will also have more events for our sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as well as our freshmen. Our Student Affairs team is leading the way to ensure that all of our students have a variety of opportunities to become engaged on campus, to discover their potential and passions, and to become future leaders.
Of course, another important day this fall is Monday, August 24, the first day of classes. Our faculty and staff in Academic Affairs have been working extraordinarily hard this summer to redesign courses for a robust mix of in-person and virtual teaching and learning. New features this fall include new classroom capacities and instructional spaces to meet social distancing guidelines. Likewise, our academic success professionals have been planning for virtual advising, tutoring, career coaching, and numerous other services to help our students be successful. Our IT team has also been exceptional in enhancing our hardware, software, and connectivity. We will even have new “hot spots” across campus.
Underpinning our planning and preparedness for “Back to Brandywine” this fall has been our Finance and Business Services unit. They have been at the forefront of our operations for a healthy and safe return to campus – adding hand sanitizing stations, masks, plexiglass shields, cleaning and sanitizing, touchless faucets, and many other measures to meet or exceed University, state, and federal guidance. On campus, they have been listening to the input and ideas of many.
Each of our other areas – the Center for Ethics and Civic Engagement, Continuing Education, Development and Alumni Relations, Enrollment Management, Police and Public Safety, and University Relations – has been performing at top speed this summer. I am sure you will enjoy hearing about their efforts and impact in future newsletters.
As you can see, even a pandemic is not stopping our commitment to our students at Penn State Brandywine. I, together with our entire campus community, know that these and all of our accomplishments and aspirations would not be possible without your unrelenting commitment and support.
We thank you. Our students thank you!
Marilyn J. Wells, Ph.D.