First Snow – Fall Break 2020

October 16, 2020

Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

Looking out my window, the first sticking snow of the year has arrived. Two inches of wet and very slippery snow has already come down and the temperature has dropped almost to freezing. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, it is four days later than last year and comes after a truly beautiful summer and early Fall!

Campus is quiet as the students are off Thursday and Friday this week for our new “Fall Break.” We started classes two days early and added this time to give us more flexibility if we needed to pivot to fully remote instruction at some point during the semester. I have already heard from both students and faculty that the break is very much appreciated; it would not surprise me if it becomes a permanent addition to our academic calendar.

Michigan Tech has played a huge role recently in the local fight against COVID. In late September cases surged in the UP, with cases in Houghton County briefly over 700/million/day, the highest in Michigan. Together with our local K-12 schools, we took a two week pause on most face to face instruction and dedicated our campus testing capacity to the local community. We also hosted a drive thru event on campus where more than 600 tests were done in a single day. These efforts, together with the actions of our community, have led to a 75% drop in daily new cases in the past two weeks. 

On campus the numbers are promising and improving, with only one positive in our last 300 surveillance tests and 31 total cases in the last 14 days, less than half the total early in the semester. In a few weeks, some new equipment will arrive that will double our testing capacity.

In my office, we welcomed a new Director of Advancement, Karin Van Dyke. Many of you have worked with Ben Larson over the years; Ben is now the Houghton County Administrator! Karin is a proud Tech alumna who was previously Director of Advancement at Finlandia University. She is looking forward to connecting with many of you in the months ahead.

Despite the pandemic, this past year was a record-setting one for faculty researchers in Sciences and Arts. New external research funding totaled $10.6 million in 2019-20, a new record and up from $6.7 the previous year, an increase of 58%! Meanwhile our incoming CSA class was the second largest in the last five years. With the wonderful variety of interesting majors we offer and the dedicated recruiting efforts of our faculty and advisors, this is not surprising. We are already beginning our faculty recruitment for next Fall to build on this momentum.

Critical to everything we do are our alumni and friend donors. All your donations to our departments, scholarships, and the general fund are vitally important to our success. They will play an even bigger role over the next year with decreased state support expected. Thank you so much for supporting Michigan Tech! For CSA giving opportunities please visit:  https://www.mtu.edu/sciences-arts/giving/

If you are ever back in town I hope you will stop by, say hello, and share with me your MTU story. Please do not hesitate to email me any time at djhemmer@mtu.edu to share your MTU experience or offer suggestions.


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