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Dear SOE Community,

Over the past six weeks, my thoughts and hopes have turned often to the members of our School of Education (SOE) family. I know the pandemic has touched us all, either through personal loss or by disrupting the connections and routines we treasure. We have heard this moment described as unprecedented, cautionary, troubling, and uncertain. While I am confident in our belief that the power of education will prevail, it will not be the same for a long time to come.

Teachers are among those on the front lines of this crisis. You’ve seen the news and have likely heard stories from friends and families. Perhaps you are homeschooling your own children, and/or have your own boots on the ground. Whatever the situation, please know that our thoughts are with you during this challenging time.

For the SOE, our students, faculty, and alumni, also are looking at multiple challenges, including:
SOE alumni, including teachers who are working with families, now juggling learning and working at home. Counselors are seeing their services needed like never before, and other educators are reimagining literacy and science programs to keep students and teachers engaged and energized.
SOE students, who are experiencing intense financial pressure. With over 70% of SOE students receiving some sort of need-based financial assistance in the form of grants and scholarships, most still work multiple jobs to pay for their education. For many, those jobs no longer exist and the funds our students had set aside for education are now needed for housing, food, and taking care of families.
SOE faculty, who have made the massive shift to online course offerings. While a handful of our programs were already set up for distance learning, most were not. Currently, all of our courses are now being taught online, a system that will continue at least through this summer.

I have been touched by the numerous inquiries we have received about how to best offer help to others in our SOE community. While I make no assumptions about how your personal circumstances have been impacted by recent events, I am making an exceptional ask of you in a very exceptional time. We have two funds in the School of Education helping us address the many challenges facing our community right now and going forward:
The School of Education Dean’s Greatest Needs Fund allows SOE leadership to meet the immediate/urgent needs that directly impact our students and faculty. This could include support for tuition, transportation, technology support online learning, students in crisis, and other services. Even if you have already made a gift to the SOE this year, we hope you will consider supporting this fund given the unique circumstances our students now are facing.
The School of Education Scholarship Endowment is a permanent fund that awards scholarships to multiple students, both undergraduate and graduate, in the SOE based on financial need. If you have already established a scholarship in the SOE, I encourage you to make your gift to your named fund. If you don’t have a named fund, this is the place to make your gift. Given the financial hardships our students now face as a result of the pandemic, we expect the need for scholarship support will far exceed what we are able to award in the coming year.

I am awed by the constant displays of generous support I witness daily in the education community. With your support, I am confident that we will come through this unprecedented time even stronger than before. I am available to answer any questions you may have, as is Terri Jackson, our Senior Director of Development (336-256-0496, No matter the size of your gift, be assured your generosity and care will make an immediate difference.

With gratitude and best wishes for your health and safety,

Randy Penfield Signature

Randy Penfield, Dean
336-334-3944 •