Arts & Sciences colleagues and staff:
I hope that you have had an inspiring and productive summer. I have spent the better part of my summer settling into life in Richmond.
Since being named Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences in March, I have had the privilege of hearing from a good portion of our faculty and staff. By the time we see each other at Colloquy, I will have met with over 65 staff members and 80 faculty members (about a third of our faculty). I even invited myself to one of your homes for dinner! (I apologize again for my cheekiness.)
I look forward to seeing you and to the return of our students; I am excited to get to know them. I have asked department chairs and program coordinators for an invitation to future department faculty meetings so that I can continue getting to know you as the year progresses. I anticipate that these meetings will give us some space and time to continue thinking together about our shared goals for the School.
The time I have spent with faculty this summer has deepened my appreciation of the work that you are doing and the dedication with which you are carrying out our mission. We are a vibrant community of learners during the summer, in areas ranging from STEM to the social sciences, to arts and humanities. Students and faculty researchers enliven Gottwald – at times against the summer elements – in their work across the STEM disciplines and through the innovative approach of the Integrated Inclusive Science Program (IQS/SMART/URISE). Our social scientists are making us proud, not only because of their capacity to conduct faculty/student collaborative research through grants, but also in their readiness to address current political and social events in a fraught election year in a hurting country and an unhealed city. In the arts, despite setbacks with our facilities, we are readying Modlin for new and returning students. I am excited about this year’s exhibitions, which include Auguste Rodin and Gordon Parks (in collaboration with VMFA). Finally our pioneering Humanities Initiative is entering its second pilot year. Through this cutting-edge program, our colleagues in the humanistic disciplines (and the arts) are cultivating creative young minds, inside and outside of the classroom.
These are only a few of the highlights in a vibrant array of activities in individual and collective research and artistic production at the University of Richmond. Individually, these programs represent the best in higher education today. Collectively, they amount to a distinctive experience in the School of Arts and Sciences that we must work to strengthen and promote. I am looking forward to continuing conversations begun this summer and your support in advancing our larger aims in the School of Arts and Sciences.
Our Future Together
The academic year is upon us. We are entering a period that will call for vigilance regarding a number of our activities, including:
- participating in the university’s strategic plan, which working groups met to further hone this summer;
- preparing in Arts and Sciences to respond robustly to the university’s strategic plan with our own long-term vision;
- solidifying what we have started in Arts and Sciences, with IQS/SMART/URISE, the Humanities Initiative, and the Arts Initiative;
- continuing to attract and retain the best and brightest faculty, staff, and students, and making them feel at home at UR, in an environment that fosters innovation, inclusiveness, and human and intellectual diversity.
I am looking forward to our conversations on these topics when we gather together at Dean’s Advisory Council, Academic Council, and Arts and Sciences faculty meetings.
Collaborators in Our Work
In order to carry out the work of the Dean’s Office, we are in the process of appointing a Dean’s Assistant and a Budget Manager to replace vacancies that opened up this summer. We have a caring and committed staff continuing on. We value respect, kindness, and the meaningful work we do for the school. If you need to reach any of us, our contact information is here. Our associate deans are Libby Gruner (English), who heads up a number of faculty development initiatives; Ben Broening (music), who is overseeing renovations and strategic initiatives in the Gottwald Science and Modlin Centers; and Della Dumbaugh (math), newly appointed and ready to work on issues pertaining to teaching and learning. The associate deans’ duties are listed here.
We are entering our largest recruiting year in recent memory. Please keep these searches in mind when commending UR to your friends and colleagues off campus. The associate deans and I are ready to help guide these searches to a conclusion that serves your departments and furthers our aim to create a striving and inclusive community.
Among our spotlight activities this year are A&S Next, a networking and career development forum for students majoring in the arts and sciences, which will be held on February 11, 2017; and the Student Symposium on April 21, 2017, for which Monika Siebert from the English Department will serve as our Faculty Coordinator. Here are some highlights from last year’s Symposium. Please consider these events as you work with students across all of our disciplines.
The Feedback Loop
In order to continue the conversations that I have had with you this summer, we in the Dean’s Office have opened an online form for your comments and feedback. The form will provide one of many opportunities to be in conversation about the exciting activities on the horizon for the School of Arts and Sciences. All are welcome to participate: faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members in RVA and beyond.
Each of us is part of a community that we call home, and each voice is important for the betterment of our School. My staff and I are at the ready, to listen to your hopes and dreams and to work with you toward our collective goals.
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences