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Dean's column: Responsive and accountable

Thursday, December 8, 2016

As we reach the halfway mark of this academic year, I am pleased about what we have accomplished together through a very challenging time. We introduced several new initiatives that are already showing progress, such as winter session classes, and our diversity, equity and inclusion plan, and further developed others, such as the faculty mentoring plan to support struggling students.

While I am pleased with our progress, I also understand we have work ahead of us to reach our potential. I take the challenge of constantly striving to improve what we offer in the College very seriously. You may recall that earlier this semester, I asked all of our faculty, staff, and graduate students to provide feedback on our progress and our challenges in an anonymous survey. We heard from about 12%, or 228, of you. You shared many ideas, suggestions, concerns and observations. You also observed points of progress and areas of difficulty. As we get ready for the spring semester, the Dean’s Office will be particularly focused on those areas noted where we have work to do, including the need for:

  • Continued efforts to marshal support for the liberal arts and sciences and its role on campus and in society;
  • Greater clarity in the College response to concealed carry and its efforts to ensure a safe environment on campus;
  • A comprehensive plan for understanding and addressing challenges in the adjustment to centralized support services and the sense that you all are being asked to do more with less;
  • Continued efforts to support our struggling students and provide greater clarity and coordination of services available to students;
  • Further development of approaches to enhance the quality and safety of older facilities across the College;
  • The initiation of novel strategies with sufficient resources to enhance research development and impact across all levels with a particular focus on graduate student support;
  • Proactive efforts to enhance training, support, and development of our leaders at the departmental level;
  • A more structured approach to seeking and utilizing staff input on key College issues;
  • Continued efforts to seek a consistent and equitable balance in the creation of an inclusive environment where we are also mindful of free speech and other aspects of intellectual freedom.

At the start of the spring semester, we will provide a comprehensive report that outlines your feedback in greater detail, with a response in each case that includes what we have done this past semester and what we plan to do in the next semester. We will then report on the results at the end of the academic year. This will become an annual process to create a more transparent and shared leadership.

I am grateful for the time and energy you dedicated to sharing your thoughts on how to make the College all it can be. I hope you will find this process to be one that allows your voice to be heard and your thoughts to be utilized in our path forward. I look forward to working together to advance the College. Thank you, truly, for all that you do. I hope you enjoy a productive and restorative winter break.