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This year marks a significant anniversary for the University of Delawares College of Arts and Sciences, Dean George Watson said Tuesday, Sept. 30, in his annual State of the College address highlighting current and future initiatives and introducing new faculty members.
Although the University and its predecessor institutions dating back to 1743 have always included the liberal arts and the sciences, CAS was not formally named a college by the Board of Trustees until December 1964. As the college commemorates the anniversary this year, it continues to focus on advancing its role as the intellectual and cultural heart of the University, Watson said.
Our college touches every student at the University of Delaware, he said. Our goal is to lead the way.
Watson reminded the audience of the goals set out in the CAS strategic plan and described a few initiatives designed to further those goals. In the area of enhanced student learning and engagement, he highlighted the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory where students work in small learning labs, often in teams, to solve real-world problems as well as plans for a new Mathematical Science Learning Lab.
That lab, known as MSLL, will use a similar emphasis on problem-based learning and personalized instruction to boost students math skills and prepare them for additional math and science coursework. The lab will begin as a pilot program in a renovated part of McKinly Lab, with plans to expand it in the near future, Watson said.
He also cited the new environmental humanities minor and a partnership between theWriting Center, Oral Fellows Program and the UD Library, offering writing, communication and design assistance to students in an area adjoining the Student Multimedia Design Center in Morris Library, as projects that promote student learning in innovative ways.
Global, national and local community engagement activities have included plans for student musical groups to travel to Israel and Taiwan this year; a slate of prominent speakers in the Center for Political Communications National Agenda series, as well as scheduled Delaware candidate debates; global partnerships with South Africa and other nations; the Nov. 1 Saturday Symposium focusing on World War I; and the continuing work of the Center for the Study of Diversity, with its increasing emphasis on research.
Watson also described some capital projects the college has identified as priorities. They include the construction of an interdisciplinary social sciences building, which is likely to be a five-year project; renovations to, or the replacement of, McKinly Lab; renovations to Drake Laboratory and to the Loudis Recital Hall; and the expansion of the pilot MSSL to accommodate more students.
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Provost Domenico Grasso tells the audience that the work of CAS, and its strong faculty, is "critical to the success of our University and our planet."
Also speaking at the State of the College event was UD Provost Domenico Grasso, who discussed the Universitys ongoing strategic planning process, its commitment to excellence and the importance of a strong faculty in engaging students and taking on significant national and global challenges.
"The backbone of the [strategic] plan is going to be, without a doubt, faculty excellence," Grasso said. He also encouraged faculty members to work in a cross-disciplinary way whenever possible, saying that transcending disciplinary boundaries will be necessary in solving the problems facing the world today.
The work of the College of Arts and Sciences is critical to the success of our University and our planet, Grasso said.
New CAS faculty
The college was able to hire a variety of talented faculty members this academic year, Watson said. Most have already started working at UD, while a few will complete postdoctoral work elsewhere before joining the faculty.
Newly hired faculty and their departments are: Jocelyn Alcantara-Garcia, art conservation; Ramona Neunuebel, biological sciences; and Mark Baillie, Jacqueline Fajardo and Kimberly Graves, chemistry and biochemistry;
Mark Bowden, English (distinguished writer in residence); Brenda Shaffer, fashion and apparel studies; Yuanchong Wang, history; Benjamin Parrell, linguistics and cognitive science; and Dawn Berk (founding director of MSSL) and Douglas Rizzolo, mathematical sciences;
Noel Swanson, philosophy; Sarah Dodson-Robinson, physics and astronomy; Lisa Jaremka and Josh Neunuebel, psychological and brain sciences; and Maria Johnson and Sylvia Zamora, sociology and criminal justice.