Last Day of Fall 2020 Semester

December 18, 2020

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

It is the last day of this strange semester, and I am getting ready to don my full academic regalia for departmental graduation ceremonies over Zoom. When I last did this in May I would never have believed it would happen again in December. With COVID vaccinations underway, including in the UP, I’m hopeful that I will be shaking students’ hands at our commencement next May!

Despite our wonderful efforts and very low COVID numbers on campus, a spike in cases across Michigan led our governor to end face to face instruction early and students were mostly sent home before Thanksgiving. We will, hopefully, welcome them back January 11 and continue our success at providing Tech’s signature hands-on learning in a safe environment.

Across the canal the snow guns are blazing at Mont Ripley, which is fortunate as we’ve had only a few inches of natural snow so far. Opening day is tomorrow, with modifications including outdoor tents set up for warming up and eating. Heading into my third season of skiing, I’m looking forward to trying some of the scarier trails this winter!

I am so proud of the work of our faculty and students dealing with this pandemic. Despite the disruptions, fall 2020 has been a great semester for research and creative activities in the College of Science and Arts! Our superstar Physics Professor Petra Huentemeyer is principal investigator on a recently awarded $860,000 NSF grant to help design a $50 million Southern hemisphere gamma-ray observatory as part of a large collaboration of astrophysicists that she leads. Professor Huentemeyer is currently a leader in the HAWC observatory, https://www.hawc-observatory.org/, located high on a volcano in Mexico!

Our fall student theatre production of Miasma turned into a movie, ingeniously filmed in the McArdle theater with full COVID precautions. See how the students did it here https://youtu.be/y4dQZxHMBfs.

Both our Army and Air Force ROTC programs have new commanders, and eleven new 2nd lieutenants will be commissioned tomorrow morning in our thriving Army and Air Force ROTC programs.

Some of you have already heard from our 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. She is looking forward to connecting with many of you in the months ahead.

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.

Best wishes,

David Hemmer


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