Letter from Our Director - June 2020

By Rebecca L. Spang

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Dear LAMP Alum,

How are you? I hope you and those you care about are safe and healthy in these strange and troubled times.

If ever LAMP’s slogans were relevant to the whole university (if not the entire country), it would have to be now. For sure, everything since Spring Break has been “not business as usual.” The students went away and they still haven’t returned. Faculty have been working almost exclusively from home, and pretty much every building on campus has been locked tight. Some LAMPers finished the semester off-campus in Bloomington, but most were scattered across the country and beyond. I taught the career development course this semester, and we conducted mock job interviews with students in Indianapolis and India, Hong Kong and Virginia. As you may or may not know, the official title of LAMP-X 298 was changed a few years ago to “Challenges of Work and Life in the Twenty-First Century”—never was a course more aptly named!

Though the spring 2020 semester undoubtedly proved challenging, I am happy to say we got the job done! We were especially fortunate to have an experienced on-line teacher—Professor Vivian Halloran from the English Department and Program in Human Biology—as our new Associate Director for Curriculum Development and to have recent alumna Laresa Lund (BA, History and LAMP, 2018), formerly of IU Online, working “in” the office with us. It was my own first encounter with teaching on-line; I can confirm that “learning by doing” certainly makes for memorable experiences.

The pandemic sadly required us to postpone our traditional graduation celebration in the Tudor Room. We look forward to welcoming our 2020 graduates back to campus just as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy the yearbook we made to celebrate them and their achievements. In addition to photos and biographies, the yearbook includes a few samples of the work these students did at IU. If you are curious to see more, check out the book made for Eric Metzler’s “American Consumerism” course this year.

All our students made it through this strangest of all semesters, but some needed extra assistance. Thanks to the past generosity of LAMP alumni, I am happy to say we were able to support them. We don't have all the answers, but we could at least help a student stranded when her study-abroad program ended abruptly, another who suffered when her on-campus employment was cancelled, and a third who lost his job in downtown Bloomington and ended up working full-time at Kroger. Thank you so much to everyone who has given to LAMP over the years—you made this possible.

“One Perspective is Never Enough.” We have been saying this at LAMP for years, but its importance has never been more obvious. 45 million Americans are out of work, but the stock market is back at record high levels. Even the virus has not had equal effects, provoking senseless attacks on Asians and Asian-Americans and killing disproportionately high numbers of Black and Hispanic Americans. Meanwhile, tragic and horrifying instance of brutality have reminded us of just how different policing and the justice system look from the perspectives of white and Black Americans.

We would love to know how things look from your perspective. Are you working from home, on the frontlines, or have you maybe had your career plans go a bit pear shaped of late? Is your field or firm hiring or firing right now? What else is new? You can always use the “stay in touch” form on our website, or send me an e-mail. I will write again once the fall semester is underway. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you!

All the very best,



Rebecca L. Spang

Professor of History and Director of the Liberal Arts + Management Program (LAMP)