Dear Students,

By now you’ve been made aware by President Freeman that the university will discontinue face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester. It’s a decision made in the midst of a rapidly evolving situation to best provide for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.

The extended spring break week has been a time for our talented faculty to come up with creative solutions to devise effective learning opportunities. Although much of what we teach is hands-on, experiential, and utilizing specific tools, the ability of our faculty and you, our students, to think critically and creatively gives us a tremendous advantage as we implement alternative ways of providing instruction. We’re also part of a nation-wide effort to confront these challenges, and the faculty and I have been in constant communication with the wider world to share and offer best practices.  Artists are an ingenious lot.  Some of the greatest works were created under great duress, or in tumultuous times.

As President Freeman said in her announcement yesterday, “this is not how everyone pictured their spring semester, especially our graduating seniors.” Our three schools are working on ways to help you get the most out of the rest of this incredibly challenging semester, and I appreciate your openness to these approaches. It is inevitable that as we implement these alternative methods that some of them will make us pause and wonder, “why didn’t we think of this sooner?”  And some will make us pause and wonder, “what are they thinking?”  Stay open to new things, allow change, practice patience, offer forgiveness, but most of all, learn well.

The university has done an excellent job of compiling a lot of useful information in one place at niu.edu/updates. In particular, there are some very useful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on topics like housing, dining halls, commencement, international students, and more.

We are living through a time when the world is challenged, and if history teaches us anything, it is that the arts have always provided the way back from uncertain times. This will be no different. The world needs us all to keep creating. I am proud of the excellent work that is done in this college and excited to see the work yet to come. We will get through this together.

Stay safe, and keep creating!

Paul Kassel, Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts