Dear Hawkeye parents and families,
I’ve just finished my first month as the vice president for student life. This is the institution I attended as an undergraduate and graduate student, and an institution I love. I’m so excited to support your students—and you—throughout their educational journey. It is a strange time to become a vice president for student life, but our mission to support student success is more important than ever. I have been proud of how our Hawkeye community has come together to help and support each other during this difficult time.
I’m also the parent of a first-year UI student. We moved Evan home at Spring Break without a chance to say goodbye to his floormates and roommate in Catlett Residence Hall. Just like your students, he has continued his classes online, telling me to be quiet when he is in Rhetoric class, or that we can’t be online during his Chemistry quiz for fear that the internet will go down. Overall, I’ve been amazed by his resiliency and adaptability, as I’m sure you have been with your students.
What I most sense from the students I’ve talked to is an anxiety about the unknown and grieving for what is lost. For our first-generation seniors, they’ve lost the chance to walk across the stage to applause from their proud families. Seniors will miss taking photos in their caps and gowns in front of Old Capitol—something they may have dreamed of since they were first-year students. These losses are real, and we can’t make them go away. Unlike helping our students through homesickness or anxiety about a test, one of the distinct aspects of supporting them during this unprecedented time is that we are also experiencing the same uncertainty.
It is very helpful to remind students that they can still engage with campus virtually outside the classroom as well as in their courses. Supplemental instruction and other academic support services continue online. The Campus Activities Board and Cultural Centers are hosting virtual programming from trivia to movies. Students can also meet individually with a counselor or consultant from University Counseling Service or Student Wellness, or participate in a variety of mental health and mindfulness sessions. Our faculty and staff at Iowa remain here for our students, and for you. Please reach out to me if I can support you or connect you with resources on campus.
Thank you for all you are doing to help your student through this challenging time. I look forward to the future, and can’t wait to welcome students back to campus in the fall. University administration, faculty, and staff are working diligently to implement systems and processes that will allow us all to safely resume daily face-to-face activity.
Vice President for Student Life