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News CAS: Progress and partnerships

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‘State of College’ highlights accomplishments, looks forward

George Watson, dean of UD's College of Arts and Sciences, delivers the "State of the College" address.

In assessing the state of the University of Delaware’s College of Arts and Sciences, Dean George Watson cited such accomplishments of the past year as progress in improving diversity and inclusion, numerous successful partnerships and a “banner year” for hiring outstanding faculty.

Watson spoke to a packed house in the Roselle Center for the Arts on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in the annual “State of the College” event. His address was followed by a talk by UD President Dennis Assanis and a reception to welcome new CAS faculty members.

Watson reminded the audience that at last year’s event, he announced a recurring $1 million commitment to diversity and inclusion, with the goal of having CAS act as a driver in the University’s efforts to address such longstanding challenges.

“I am pleased to report that we have made some intentional steps in the right direction,” Watson said in this week’s address.

Those steps include establishing a strategic planning team and appointing chief diversity advocates Karl Booksh, Colette Gaiter and Jissell Martinez as part of the college’s and UD’s action plans. Coordinated by Doug Doren, deputy dean of CAS, the planning team has drafted a Commitment to Inclusive Excellence focused on cultivating an inclusive academic and social environment, strengthening recruitment and retention efforts and leading community engagement initiatives.

Some proposals for the next year call for inviting experts to campus to conduct workshops and interact with faculty staff and students; developing more robust mentoring programs for faculty and students; and recruiting more actively for diverse staff and graduate programs.

As the plan continues to take shape and initiatives move forward, Watson told CAS faculty and staff that their input will be critical in implementing the college’s diversity goals.

In related achievements during the past year, he noted the success of a variety of partnerships, many of them supported by the provost and the vice provost for diversity.

Such initiatives have brought visiting professors, artists and postdoctoral fellows to campus. They also have built on a continuing relationship with the University of Warsaw to launch the Statistical Teaching and Analytics Research Training (START) program, allowing selected UD graduate students to attend a summer workshop in Poland, and have developed collaborations among individuals and organizations to support public education.

The 2016 State of the College address was the eighth such event for Watson, a UD alumnus who was appointed interim CAS dean in 2009 and dean in 2010.

At this year’s event, Assanis announced that Watson has been reappointed dean for a new, five-year term.

Hiring and appointments in CAS

In his talk, Watson highlighted a number of new professional directors in the college, senior academic appointments and newly hired faculty members.

Some of those new faculty were hired in “clusters” based on their areas of specialization rather than their specific discipline.

Clusters hired in the past year included those related to UD’s new Center for Biomedical and Brain Imaging (CBBI). Peter Mende-Siedlecki, Naomi Samimi-Sadeh and Jeffrey Spielberg joined UD to work with the functional MRI instrument housed in CBBI, and Keith Schneider was hired to direct the center. All have been appointed in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Additional new faculty members Tanisha Ford in the Department of Black American Studies and in history, Zara Anishanslin in history and art history and Cindy Ott in history joined UD as part of a cluster in Material Culture Studies. Jennifer Van Horn, in art history and history, will join the faculty in 2017, also through that cluster.

Another cluster focused on population analytics, with Mieke Eeckhaut in sociology and criminal justice and Kassra Oskooii in political science and international relations joining the faculty.

New professional directors this year are Deborah Gump in the journalism program, Nancy Karibjanian in the Center for Political Communication, Tara Kee in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program and Jeffrey Richardson as the college’s new director of diversity, outreach and engagement.

Watson announced new senior appointment in social sciences: Saleem Ali, Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Energy and the Environment; K.C. Morrison, professor of public policy and administration; David Redlawsk, the James R. Soles Professor of Political Science and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations; and Daniel Smith, who joins UD as a tenured associate professor in public policy and administration and director of the master of public administration program.

Other new faculty welcomed to CAS in the State of the College event were Noel Archambeault and Jess Muñoz in music; Brian Baade, art conservation; Daniel Koltonski, philosophy; Julie McGee, black American studies; Eric Bloch, chemistry and biochemistry; Bennett Maruca and Veronique Petit (who will join UD in January), physics and astronomy; and Shuo Wei and Jessica Tanis, biological sciences.

Watson also recognized newly hired faculty members who will join UD in 2017. They are Kaja Jasinska and Zhenghan Qi, both in linguistics and cognitive science, Hsin-Wen Lee in philosophy and Chiara Sabina in women and gender studies.

Other new CAS appointments are Vickie Fedele, Chanele Moore and Sarah Trembanis, Associate in Arts program; April Kendra, Devon Miller-Duggan and Viet Phuc Dinh, English; Jon Cox, art and design; and Kim Schroeder, dance. In cross-disciplinary appointments, new assistant professors include Scott Partridge in the English Language Institute, Jamie Sutherland in mathematical sciences, Lydia Timmins in communication and Tibor Toth in public policy and administration.

​President Dennis Assanis addresses the College of Arts and Sciences.

President Assanis discusses UD mission

Assanis outlined some of his goals and vision for the University at the CAS State of the College event, including his views on key roles the College of Arts and Sciences — which he called “the beating heart of the University” — will play in UD’s success.

“My education has been in the sciences,” Assanis, an engineer, said. “But my upbringing was in the arts and humanities. … I can’t tell you how important a college of arts and sciences is to a great research university.”

He summarized strategic principles developed in his first 100 days at UD, including enhancing student success, building an environment of inclusive excellence, investing in the University’s intellectual and physical capital, strengthening interdisciplinary and global programs and fostering a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. He emphasized the drive for excellence in everything we do.

Assanis gave equal weight to excellence in the sciences as well as the humanities and the arts, citing examples like programs in psychological and brain sciences, African American material culture studies, art conservation and the potential for the School of Public Policy and Administration.

Assanis called on CAS to work with him to bring inclusive excellence through the re-imagination of the curriculum and partnerships, “working within and across,” with the College of Education and Human Development and the city of Wilmington to prepare all students for success.

He expressed optimism that the University can meet the challenges involved in fostering diversity and a culture of inclusion, expanding graduate and professional education, improving four- and six-year graduation rates and bringing individuals and units together for shared progress.

“We can do it. There are challenges, but there are also opportunities,” Assanis said.

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‘State of College’ highlights accomplishments, looks forward

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CAS: Progress and partnerships