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Welcome to the Fall 2020 Semester

Katherine L. Sermersheim, Ph.D. Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students 

Dear Boilermakers,

Welcome to the fall 2020 semester! Whether new to Purdue or a returning student, we are so excited to have you here and celebrate your long-awaited arrival. Campus, simply put, has not been the same without you.

Many have made the decision to participate in the residential campus experience this fall, likely a hard decision for some. You consciously and deliberately committed to the Protect Purdue Pledge and agreed to “Protect Myself. Protect Others. Protect Purdue.” Hard and difficult decisions have also been made by our State, County, and City of West Lafayette. Each of these decisions has been made to ensure and sustain the safest environment possible for you to be able to advance your educational efforts here at Purdue.

Several colleges and universities started the semester with in-person courses, yet within days of opening were forced to remote-only delivery due to surges in COVID-19 cases. Upon further inspection, each of these failed attempts and increased cases have been attributed to ‘clusters’ of students who contracted the virus as a result of attending a campus party; crowded parties with significant numbers of attendees where no facial coverings, no social distancing, and no safety precaution of any kind were considered. I am sure the decision to abandon a residential semester, send students home, and go to on-line only instruction is incredibly sad and disappointing for all involved.

Clearly, we are all social beings and desire to be among one another. Hosting or attending a party, however, can have major unintended consequences in our unified disease prevention efforts and desire to keep the campus open. While risk is not binary and cannot entirely be eliminated, it can be managed. We must all do our part to protect Purdue and each other: avoid large gatherings, wear face coverings, social distance, follow directional signage, monitor and implement personal health safety protocols, to name a few.

I, and the entire University community, are counting on each of you to do your part to reduce the spread of the virus and ultimately keep us open this fall. Who we are as a community matters. How we treat one another matters. How we live and socialize matters. And, how seriously we embrace our individual and collective health responsibilities matters. Please know that we will be taking a hard line on conduct for those engaging in events and activities that run counter to our Protect Purdue commitments. Plainly stated, hosting or attending gatherings and parties where social distancing is not possible and masks are not worn represent violations of the Protect Purdue Pledge; if you don’t abide by rules, there is no place for you here. See the Student Conduct Regulations here.

I remain confident that come mid-November when - as planned - you leave campus to complete the rest of the semester remotely, we will collectively celebrate our commitments to the Protect Purdue Plan and the successes it enabled us to achieve. Of course, this achievement will not just magically occur. To remain on campus until Thanksgiving break will require each of us, all of the time, 24/7 to be aware of and honor our personal role and responsibility to protect myself, protect others, and protect Purdue. We are all in this together! I challenge each and every one of you to manage your risk. To plan, support, and engage in lower-risk behaviors that meet your need to be social. We can do this and we must do this if we desire a different result for Purdue University.

Boiler Up! Hammer Down! Hail Purdue!


Katherine L. Sermersheim, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Provost & Dean of Students
Purdue University
Schleman Hall| Room 207
475 Stadium Mall Drive | West Lafayette, IN  47907
Phone:  765.494.1257| Email:

Purdue University, Office of the Dean of Students, Helen B. Schleman Hall (formerly the Recitation Building), 2nd Floor, 656 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2086, Phone (765) 494-1747, Fax (765) 496-1550

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