The University of Delaware's College of Arts and Sciences is committing $1 million to develop robust new initiatives to
improve diversity, Dean George Watson announced to applause from the
audience at his annual State of the College address on Sept. 29.
“We have to move to action, and a lot of times, action takes
dollars,” Watson said, adding that the funding will be a recurring
expenditure, not a one-time allocation. “It’s a major commitment, but
it’s important to us. It should be the cornerstone of our college’s
Planning is underway to develop specific programs for this effort, he
said. One initiative will be the development of a diversity assessment
and a robust plan of action to support the University’s goals in such
areas as the recruitment of faculty and graduate students and the
appointment and empowerment of diversity advocates.
After the address, Watson said the goal of the new commitment is to
act as a driver at UD to address the longstanding challenge of diversity
on campus, particularly as it relates to race and ethnicity. CAS, he
said, is particularly qualified to take on this challenge.
“The College of Arts and Sciences has the scholarly expertise to
serve as a shining beacon at UD, and to deliver not just ideas but
actions — focused on people, projects and places — that promote
understanding, critical thought and acceptance of difference. These will
be key in our strategic priorities to educate global citizens, bridge
opportunity divides and advance cultural understanding," he said.
He noted that the social sciences, a key area of strength for CAS,
emphasize the importance of analyzing issues through frameworks of
action, including how social justice, public service, cultural
understanding, well-being and unique methods for analyzing social
attitudes and behavior provide an effective lens for understanding
diversity in a constantly changing world.
“We need to rethink our priorities and start paying closer attention
to understanding cultural differences, promoting culturally diverse
experiences and exposing students, faculty and staff to others with
diverse backgrounds so that when students come to UD, and when they
later graduate, they have developed as global citizens ready to make a
difference in the world,” Watson said.
The State of the College event also highlighted numerous CAS
accomplishments in recent years and looked ahead “to the ways we are
redefining what it means to be a student in the arts, the humanities,
the social sciences and the natural sciences,” Watson told the audience.
He mentioned such initiatives as community partnerships in the arts,
including the Healing Arts project that provides artistic engagement to
children’s hospital patients and their families and the new
international visiting artist-in-residency program designed to promote
cultural understanding through art on the UD campus and in the
A recent humanities initiative, which Watson called “exemplary,” is the Colored Conventions project that
demonstrates work at the intersection of the classroom, the archive,
the digital realm and an engaged public. He also noted that a new
speaker series in African American material culture studies and public
humanities will bring a host of distinguished scholars to campus.
In the natural sciences, “We work hard to ensure quality education
across foundational STEM disciplines,” Watson said. Among other
projects, he cited the multimodal imaging center
— an extension, now under construction, to the Life Sciences Research
Facility — that will provide UD researchers with specialized imaging
capability known as functional MRI. And, he said, “We are off to a great
running start on our neuroscience initiative, with great things
A few initiatives highlighted in the social sciences are this year’s
fifth-anniversary celebration of the Center for Political Communication
and innovative online programs including graduate education
certification in fashion and apparel studies and degree programs in the
School of Public Policy and Administration and in sociology and criminal
justice. “We are committed to advancing strengths in research
methodology, data collection and analysis” in the social sciences,