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A Message from the President: Adapting to a New Reality

Sunday, April 5, 2020

President Maureen O'Connor

I am proud, grateful and awed by the heroic and tireless efforts of our faculty and staff, and the resilience of our students, as we have adapted over the last month to new ways of teaching and learning. Our community’s commitment to care for the personal needs of our students, to ensure seamless continuity of education, and to continue to serve our broader community has exceeded any reasonable expectations.
Fortunately, we were well poised to transition to virtual learning as many of our faculty already teach synchronously on Zoom, and we have a robust Academic Technology team led by Scott Hines and Center for Excellence in Education led by Kristel Nazzal, who have provided outstanding support, training, and resources for working in this realm. We have been able to take our virtual learning to the next level while keeping our community connected through Zoom classes, Zoom meetings, Zoom office hours, Zoom town halls, and even Zoom staff lunches.  
For our students, we have enhanced financial aid services and have kept all of our student workers employed, while actively hiring additional student assistants. Additionally, we created the first ever PAU Student Emergency Fund, in which 100% of the donations will be used to provide relief to students struggling with basic needs such as food and medication; secure housing; unexpected transportation costs; and the effects of sudden unemployment. 
At this critical time, PAU is committed to serving our broader community. To continue both our clinical training and our service to our local community, our Gronowski Center team is putting the infrastructure in place to support tele-therapy. Professor Lisa Brown, an expert in disaster mental health, is working with colleagues nationally to change the language from “social distancing” to “physical distancing” to more accurately describe the situation. At this time, more than ever, we need social interaction and support despite our physical separation. 
We will continue to support our immediate PAU community and beyond. We WILL get through this together and our world WILL have more people who understand human behavior and who can provide state-of-the-art mental health because we did!
Stay well.
Maureen O'Connor, Ph.D., J.D. 
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