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Dean Watson delivers 'State of the College' address
Dean George Watson

​Dean George Watson highlights recent progress made by UD's largest college and welcomes a record number of new faculty.

In his 2017 report on the state of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Dean George Watson focused on progress made by the University of Delaware’s largest college in the past year and its priorities for the future, including public engagement, student success initiatives and interdisciplinary and graduate programs.

Watson spoke to a nearly full house in the Roselle Center for the Arts on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the annual “State of the College” event, which was followed by a welcoming reception for recently hired CAS faculty members.

Those members — “65 new faces” including temporary appointments and those who will be arriving at UD in 2018 — make 2017-18 “a banner year,” Watson said. The college appointed 42 permanent-track faculty, including 26 tenured and tenure-track, a number that represents a modern record, he said.

In discussing progress and priorities, Watson began by highlighting the college’s commitment to University-wide priorities, in particular enhancing student success, strengthening interdisciplinary and global programs, fostering a spirit of innovation and investing in intellectual and physical capital. In a key priority for the college, promoting inclusive excellence, he said CAS has made “significant progress” while recognizing that more remains to be accomplished.

Going forward, Watson said, “We should consider inclusive excellence as an integral part of everything we do,” not as a goal that stands alone.

He highlighted a few recent programs, events and initiatives that have been successful in raising challenging questions and encouraging conversation about difficult issues that, he said, “all benefit from an inclusive approach.”

In the area of public engagement, Watson described such recent events as the Oct. 7 Saturday Symposium, hosted by the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, that focused on the civil rights movement and the relationship between the arts and social justice; the Department of Art History’s Oct. 10 panel discussion, “Race, Memory and Monuments After Charlottesville”; and the Center for Political Communication’s National Agenda speaker series, now in its seventh year and exploring the political, religious, gender and other divides in America today.

“I am proud of the dedication, innovative thinking and action of our faculty and staff who have brought conversations around these issues to the fore of our classes, academic programming and events,” Watson said.

He also described a few of the CAS programs that are having positive impacts on student success. Gaps continue throughout higher education in the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented communities and of international students, a problem that Watson said must be addressed head-on.

“Our college has an important role to play here, and these gaps are why we take student success initiatives so seriously,” he said.

He cited such promising initiatives as the Blue Hen Success Collaborative and other academic advisement programs that have improved communication and support for students; the Associate in Arts Program that offers classes in each of Delaware’s three counties; and the NUCLEUS student support program whose impact on student success “is striking,” Watson said.

He also highlighted partnerships that have offered undergraduate students numerous opportunities to enhance their academic skills, including a student research partnership with Fox Chase Cancer Center, a Research Experiences for Undergraduates program that gave students with disabilities the opportunity to conduct summer research at UD; and the English Language Institute, which Watson called “a critical element in helping the University to achieve its strategic goals of both enhancing student success and strengthening interdisciplinary and global programs.”

In the area of interdisciplinary and graduate programs, Watson noted the success of such initiatives as Statistical Teaching and Analytics Research Training (START) in the social sciences, Building Roads to Inclusivity and Diversity in Graduate Education (BRIDGE) in clinical sciences and the Bill Anderson Fund, which promotes diversity in the field of disaster science and recently located at UD as its flagship institution.

Faculty, staff and academic administrative changes

The State of the College event was also an opportunity to welcome new faculty and staff, as well as those who have taken on new assignments.

The announcements included:

In the dean’s office, Joann Browning returned to CAS from retirement to serve as senior associate dean for the arts, and Lauren Petersen is serving as interim associate dean for the humanities.

Watson introduced and welcomed the staff of the new Biden Institute, as well as the CAS development team.

New department chairs include two who are also new to the University this year, Maj. Brian Babcock-Lumish in Army ROTC and military science and Greg Shelnutt in art and design.

New faculty members were welcomed in the arts and humanities: Mark Adams and Lauren Reynolds, music; Andrew Brown, Africana studies; Jennifer Follett, Laura Helton, Sean Zdenek, Délice Williams, Viet Dinh, Chisa Hutchinson, April Kendra, Celeste Doaks and Deborah Howlett, English; Tracy Quan, Tyson Sukava and Marcaline Boyd, languages, literatures and cultures; Hsin-Wen Lee, philosophy; and Jennifer Van Horn, art history and history.

In the natural sciences: Aimee Jaramillo-Lambert, Yvette Yien, Karl Schmitz, Stefanie DeVito, Christopher Trimby, Thomas Giardina and Daniel McDevit, biological sciences; Chad Giusti, Vu Dinh, Jing-Mei Qiu, Constanze Liaw, Marcia Gail Headley, Virginia Kilikian, Kin “Anthony” Hei Mak, Novi Herawati Bong, Christopher Cox, Jian Cheng, Mark Sadowski and Alexia Mintos, mathematical sciences; Juan Perilla, Bruce Heitbrink, Shara Compton and Trevor Daly, chemistry and biochemistry; Nina Straitman, Kaja Jasinska, Zhenghan Qi, Darrell Larsen and Nadya Pincus, linguistics and cognitive science; and Veronique Petit, physics and astronomy.

In the social sciences: Georgina Ramsay and Vikramaditya Thakur, anthropology; Cresean Hughes and Ellen Donnelly, sociology and criminal justice; Chiara Sabina, women and gender studies; Malasree Neepa Acharya and Flavio Hickel, political science and international relations; Danielle Catona, communication; Kathryn Kujawa, fashion and apparel studies; and Terry Babcock-Lumish and Harvey White, public policy and administration.

Newly hired faculty who will join UD in 2018 include Jia-Rey (Gary) Chang, art and design; David Kim, English; Denva Jackson, art history; Dael Norwood and Jaipreet Virdi, history; and Benjamin Jungfleisch, physics and astronomy.

Gratitude for Provost Grasso

Watson began the “State of the College” event by publicly thanking outgoing Provost Domenico Grasso for his leadership and support to CAS and the University.

Watson noted the college’s productive working relationship with the provost, saying that Grasso “worked with me on advancing numerous initiatives” in the college, including efforts to promote the arts, to strengthen public humanities and to enhance collaborative learning.

After the audience gave a round of applause for Grasso’s work, Watson welcomed Robin W. Morgan to the podium.

Morgan, a former dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources who has been chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences in CAS for the past three years, will serve as interim provost.

A molecular biologist, she joined the UD faculty in 1985 and holds joint appointments in the departments of biological sciences and of chemistry and biochemistry, as well as a faculty appointment in the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

Morgan told the audience that, as a first-generation college graduate herself, she thinks about her roots every day and appreciates the opportunity to work with young people.

Also, she said, “I’m very proud to be a member of this college.”

Article by Ann Manser; photo by Doug Baker

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Dean George Watson spoke about progress made by CAS and its priorities for the future, including public engagement, student success initiatives and interdisciplinary and graduate programs.

​Dean George Watson's State of the College address reviewed progress made during the past year and priorities for the future.

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