Let me begin by saying it is an honor to serve as Interim Dean for the 2017-2018 academic year. Scott Furlong will certainly be a tough example to follow, but I promise to work diligently to advance the spirit, talent, and ideas so abundant in CAHSS.
Given the state of funding in the UW System, we don’t have the luxury of allowing for any “learning curve” when it comes to my service as Dean. Since moving to the four-college model, the composition of our college has changed and we’ve barely had time to reflect on who we are. During the upcoming year we will take time to do just that. We have a lot to accomplish, and I’m confident that together, we can work to create our own vision— rather than reacting to someone else’s vision for us.
So what are our immediate concerns?
Both the Chancellor and Provost have made clear that enrollment is our top priority. Given last year’s budget issues, this should come as no surprise. I have scheduled a retreat with all unit chairs in August, where we will discuss enrollment and recruitment initiatives. Please know that I’m not interested in top-down pronouncements or leadership, and we will rely on each other for the ideas, collaboration, and outreach required. In terms of good news, enrollment in several our programs has increased, and I have no doubt we will further establish CAHSS as a destination for students who crave what we offer.
Beyond enrollment, I know that Chancellor Miller’s call for re-missioning is on people’s minds. I will have more to say about this soon, but please be assured that CAHSS and what we do is not only vital to our institution, but to our community and society. Exploring revisions to our mission simply addresses the practical need of allowing us to ask System for more resources, and we will all be participating in that process. As a member of our college–in the English department and Humanities–I know that we are weary of pushing back against notions that what we do is merely a General Education course or two, or “support” for other, more highly promoted areas of study. If nothing else, I will dedicate all my energy this year to reminding people everywhere, both inside and outside our institution, that we exist as no one’s support program.
What we do in CAHSS is a way of life. Our college is the home of artists, creators, makers, researchers, and of deep analysis. We are the curious, creative, moral, driven, and possess a mission of our own. And given the number of Founders and Regents Excellence Award winners, we are the college of superlative teaching, scholarship, service, and learning. None of these qualities, or our commitment to excellence, will lessen or dissipate. In fact, our work will ensure that they grow.
Finally, let me say that you should reach out to me whenever you want or need to. I am trying to avoid the cliché of always having an “open door” (given the avalanche of meeting requests I am receiving, I’ll admit that my door may indeed sometimes be closed!), so instead I’ll say that my only policy on communication is that we always approach it with openness and honesty. As the Interim Dean, problems that need solving are my responsibility; it is entirely my fault if such problems are not resolved to all of our satisfaction. With that in mind, communicating frequently, honestly, and openly is vital to our success—seek me out and speak your mind.
I truly look forward to this year. As your colleague, I already know many of you, but now is the perfect opportunity to make new connections, and this is what I look forward to the most.
Have a nice summer,