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Dean Panzella: Spring Student Update

Register for the Student Forum on Tuesday, January 26 at 6:30 pm

Register for Open Student Forum on Tuesday, January 26 at 6:30 pm.


Dear Viking Students,

As we enter another semester during a global pandemic, I wanted to reach out to let you know that we are all thinking about you, your needs, and how we can best serve you during this new semester. 

In October 2020, we asked all students to complete a survey so we could better understand your experiences, needs and concerns during the pandemic. Over 1,000 students completed the survey, representing a strong cross-section of the university community. We read every comment and took every concern very seriously. 

I want to let you know that we heard you!

Students indicated good experiences concerning communication, accessing services and technology, and using different software tools. They also reported some concerns about adjusting to the online learning environment, balancing competing priorities and making connections within the campus community. 

While we were glad to see that overall students have adapted to online learning, there is still work to do. We are using the information we received to inform our conversations with students during outreach calls this semester. We also made the following changes to improve your experience:

  • Extending library hours during the week to accommodate students who need to use the space or wi-fi for evening classes or study
  • Adding programming in the spring to help students manage stress and develop online connections, like VirtualU sponsored by the Center for Academic Excellence 
  • Working with students to remove holds so that they can register for classes
  • Opening the Gassett Fitness Center with limited hours and days
  • Offering late night food delivery and online grocery orders
  • Using different platforms, like social media, to increase communication with students

In addition, you will see improvements in services based on the work of the campus-wide initiative “The Sustainable Path Forward Taskforce.” The taskforce, which included faculty, staff and student members, has suggested changes to optimize your experience as a Salem State student, such as streamlining student services. 

Finally, as we did last spring, we will be reaching out to find out how you are doing this semester. We want to hear from youOn January 26, President Keenan and I, along with other campus leaders, will hold an open student forum at 6:30 pm. You may register here for this event and family members are welcome to join.

In February, a Salem State staff member will be reaching out to you directly to see how you are doing. They are prepared to offer resources and refer you to others at the university who are waiting to assist you with any challenges that may be keeping you from being successful. I encourage you to respond and share your concerns, questions and ideas with them so they can best assist you. 

As we prepare for our outreach, please make sure you:

  • Download the free Navigate Student app (if you haven’t already). The app is available in the Apple Store or Google Play. Use your Salem State username and password to log on. University staff will be deploying quick polls in Navigate to gauge what you need. 
  • Download the CoVerified app to log your daily health symptoms.

We have learned a lot about our community during this challenging time. And while we continue to make changes to improve your learning experience, one thing has not changed: our commitment to your health and wellness, success, and growth. We will continue to take care of each other during this global pandemic and into all the chapters of our lives. We are Vikings – strong, resourceful, and determined!

Most sincerely, 

Carla Panzella, PhD 
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students 



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