Welcome back to campus after what I hope was a rewarding and relaxing summer. We have lots of work ahead of us but I am confident that it will be productive and inspiring. The college’s role in helping students achieve their goals, expanding the boundaries of knowledge, and sharing our expertise to the benefit of our wider community is both important and meaningful.
It will be an exciting year – our first under the umbrella of Transforming LAS, the endowment fund established from a record-breaking donor gift last year. The endowment fund provides the college with a reliable source of annual revenue to support students and faculty, facilitate engagement and innovation, and improve some of our spaces. In a time of declining state support, this revenue is more important than ever.
Transforming LAS enabled us to triple the amount of student support this year, and we offered more than $2.5 million in scholarships and awards to students for the 2018-2019 academic year. A variety of scholarships are now available – some based on academic merit, some based on financial need, and some designed to make our college a more diverse community. Students can also apply for awards to offset the costs of engaging in undergraduate research, unpaid internships, study abroad, or certification steps to become a teacher. And finally, our Career Services Office will see new resources to increase the support for LAS majors as they pursue internships and job offers.
Transforming LAS allows the college to recognize faculty for their scholarship, excellent teaching, innovation and leadership. For example, Michael Dahlstrom, associate professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication; Matt DeLisi, professor of sociology; and Theresa Windus, Distinguished Professor of chemistry, all received one of the inaugural LAS Dean’s Professorships, which provide multiple years of funding to outstanding researchers and educators.
We have also just launched a new program designed to support the arts in the college. Funding is available to invite renowned actors, directors, writers and musicians to campus and to allow our faculty in the arts to accept similar invitations from other institutions.
This year, we welcome three new department chairs in the college – Susan Cross in the Department of Psychology, Volker Hegelheimer in the Department of English, and Yanhai Yin in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology. In addition, Karen Kedrowski will join LAS in January as the new director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.
The Iowa Board of Regents approved a new major in data science. We anticipate that this will become a rapidly growing program, thanks to the tremendous career opportunities for data-literate professionals in virtually every industry. We are also exploring the integration of entrepreneurship into our curriculum and the student experience. This summer LAS supported its second student participant in CYstarters, a program that helps Iowa State students develop and launch a startup or new business idea.
I encourage you to attend the LAS Convocation and Awards Ceremony on September 12, 2018, to learn about the extensive accomplishments of your peers, our impact in research and teaching, and other points of interest in the State of the College report.
In the meantime, please let me thank you for your work in support of the university, the college, our students, alumni and your peers. We have every reason to be proud of what we do every day.
With very best wishes,
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences