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
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
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
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
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
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
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