September update from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear LAS faculty, staff and graduate students,

As we hurtle at light speed through a new semester, I can see one thing very clearly – lots of energy. The students are full of energy, and this, in turn, energizes faculty and staff and all of us who work with them.

I was pleased to hear what some faculty are saying about the return to the classroom, and I’d like to share just a few quotes with you:

“Last year, I felt like I was just doing the job to do the job…but it never really felt like my job…this year is completely different and that brings me such joy. I love seeing the smiles on the students’ faces.”

“Seeing students’ reaction to new ideas and concepts makes the class environment feel more alive and dynamic than anything which can be achieved through a computer screen. This has helped to reenergize my teaching, and I love it!”

“Last year, the students would arrive just in time for class and leave immediately after with no sense of community or socialization. That has completely changed this fall with students energized and sociable, which makes me as the faculty member feel so much more excited and inspired.”

Here is a final one, rather tongue-in-cheek, which made me smile:

“For over a year I spent a significant amount of time lecturing to an empty wall, and the wall never seemed to learn anything! Now that we are again lecturing to students I have a chance that they will learn; it makes me feel like a real teacher again.”

I also understand that we are still in an uncertain situation, and I want you to know that your commitment and presence are truly appreciated – by the students, your colleagues, by me, President Wintersteen and countless others. We continue to create knowledge, make exciting discoveries and encourage curiosity.

As the university advocates for additional safety measures, please remember that we cannot ask students or employees about their vaccination status. We can, however, share information about resources on campus. Thielen Student Health Center will update vaccination clinic information later this week, and free testing is still available. Students experiencing symptoms can make an appointment online for a test at the health center, and faculty, staff and students can pick up at-home test kits from the health center during regular hours. For more information on COVID-19 resources, including quarantine and isolation guidance, visit the university’s Moving Forward page.

I would like to say thank you to the more than 150 faculty and graduate student instructors from ten different LAS departments and to all of the LAS advising staff who are currently participating in the Navigate/EAB Early Alert program. Participating instructors note very early – in the opening weeks of the semester, long before midterms – whether a student might be experiencing academic challenges. The program then connects these students to resources and support. For example, outreach from advisors and other interventions can help a student get back on track and still complete the semester successfully, helping the university improve retention.

I am proud to serve the college that helps shape programs and support systems for all students on campus. Thank you for sparking and nurturing innovation in all areas of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences!

And for those of you who enjoy the cat pictures – here is a portrait of Lizzie with one of her favorite toys.


Best wishes,