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Normalcy slowly returns to the Penn State statistics community

Spring and summer bring in-person gatherings, and a newfound appreciation
17 May 2022

Six long months ago, our eagerness to nurture the close-knit Penn State statistics community, physically separated by the pandemic, led us to a December holiday party (held outdoors) in what is likely the coldest department gathering on the books. Attendees clad in fuzzy hats and thick gloves welcomed the hot beverages and holiday cookies, and a few student awards distracted everyone from their frozen fingertips.
Since mask mandates lifted on March 7, the return to normal campus life has been refreshing to many. In April, the department held its first indoor gatherings in nearly two and a half years. Graduate students were the guests of honor on April 19, and undergraduates on the 28th.
As faculty, staff, and students twice filled the bridge between Chemistry Building and Huck Life Sciences Building, it was clear this community assembly was long overdue. Both gatherings focused on awards and recognition of our faculty and students; but the handshakes, hugs, and spirited conversations told a different story — the engagement between teachers, mentors, peers, and friends was the true celebration.

The Eberly College of Science as a whole was just as eager to resume community engagement. Dean Langkilde and faculty joined staff in Ritenour Building for a staff appr­eciation breakfast on April 27. “I haven’t seen you in forever!” was an all-too-common greeting. And again, smiles and greetings made the joy of community in our college plainly apparent.
Summer looks to be the normal and appreciated quiet period on campus, so we’re currently looking forward to the 2022 Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM) taking place from August 6 to 11 in Washington, D.C. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are registering as we speak. (If you haven’t yet registered, you can do so here.) For the first time since 2019, we look forward to learning, sharing, and connecting with our international community — in person!
Our vibrant community in the statistics department stands out among peer programs. We thrive amongst and turn to each other for education, support, and guidance. We worked hard throughout the pandemic to look after one other and stay connected. And looking back, now we realize how much we appreciate those personal connections.
While we’re aware that the pandemic has forever changed how we work and learn, in this department, our close-knit community drives our success and defines our culture. We’ll continue to nurture it no matter the venue — because at the end of the day, we are all about community.

To everyone joining in-person meetings, visiting colleagues, and having conversations in the hallways of Thomas Building, we’re glad you’re here.

Photos: Michael Fleck, Department of Statistics
Multimedia Specialist