Welcome to a new academic year in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I hope your semester is off to a great start. We don’t always get to kick off a term with a solar eclipse! I write today to give a preview of some of the things that I’ll share in more detail with everyone who can make it to the LAS Convocation and Awards Program (September 5th at 3:30pm in the Sun Room) and also to ask you to join me in our continuing efforts to create a culture where all students, faculty, staff, and visitors feel safe, welcome, valued, and included.
The beginning of a semester is a time for reflection, for setting goals, and for affirming values and commitments. Having grown up in Germany, I have watched with deep concern as events in Charlottesville and elsewhere unfolded. Across the country and on our own campus, we witness the alarming presence of racism and bigotry. Interim President Benjamin Allen stated our responsibilities clearly in his letter to the campus community: “It is incumbent on all of us to reject conduct that promotes hate, fear, and violence. We must fully commit to the Principles of the Iowa State Community: treat others with respect, purpose, and cooperation; value diversity; eliminate discrimination; and engage in honest and respectful expression.” A commitment to diversity and inclusion is woven into the fabric of LAS, both in our core values and in the fact that we deliver the majority of university courses in diversity and international perspectives. I encourage and challenge all of us in the college – students, faculty, and staff – to embrace this spirit and express it in our words and actions.
At Convocation I’ll share a more comprehensive update on the college, so let me just give you a quick preview here and follow up with more details in a second letter later in the semester.
More than 2,000 new students joined the college this fall; we are eager to hear what the 10th day reports reveal about retention rates and the impact of all the faculty and staff committed to helping students learn, discover and grow in the past year. We also welcome 22 new tenured and tenure-eligible faculty this year. We have recruited excellent scholars and teachers and I am excited about the new energy and creativity that our new colleagues will bring to LAS.
Though our budget situation continues to be challenging, we will bring in a balanced budget. State funding for ISU declined for FY18, and the college had to shoulder its share of the university’s reduction—over $2.5 million. However, thanks to your good work and the careful budget management of my leadership team, the college was able to cover this cut without pulling money back from department and program budgets.
The Representative Assembly will vote on our new strategic plan this week. Assuming the vote is positive, I will formally launch the plan at LAS Convocation. Expect to hear regular updates about the college’s progress over the course of the coming year. Thank you for all your efforts and contributions. Every day, our faculty and staff make a difference in the lives of countless students, and every day, our researchers make remarkable discoveries. Some of these discoveries and many of our students will undoubtedly change the world. I take great pride in being affiliated with LAS, and I hope you do, too.
With very best wishes,
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences