Fall 2020

While the world today is full of uncertainty, providing context and frameworks for those questions—both the queries themselves and the processes of answering them—is where the liberal arts come in. And the list grows daily of the ways a liberal arts education can prove crucial.

Just in our College, our people have a vast array of skills and talents that help ensure we move toward a safer and healthier future. As scientists work toward COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, medical sociologists and communications experts can give healthcare providers and community members the tools they need to persuade their friends and family to wear masks. Those who speak a language other than English can ensure that everyone has access to lifesaving information as well as provide critical cultural frameworks. Historians and social and behavioral scientists help people understand the pandemic and protests within their sociohistorical contexts so we can learn from the past in order to move forward more productively.

Scholars in the humanities empower us with critical thinking, writing, rhetorical, and analytical skills to understand the information with which we are bombarded and effectively communicate our ideas and opinions. And when we haven’t had the words to express our grief and emotions, we’ve turned to authors and poets to speak for us. Once again, as we face social upheaval and unrest, the protest songs of the 1960s have been revived and have energized today’s marchers, and new artworks have emerged to mark and remind us of this pivotal moment in time.

The Checkup Podcast
Featuring Dean Thomas

As we come to the conclusion of the fall semester and look toward the spring, my goal is to work with our College of Arts and Sciences community to elevate the exceptional work being done by our faculty, staff, students, and alumni—and model inclusive excellence in all that we do. As we continue to face challenges in the coming months, we must remain present in this moment. We can accomplish our goals, but it may demand more mindfulness in our work, even if we are physically distant.

Right now, we can’t count on running into colleagues or friends throughout the day, so we must be intentional in scheduling phone calls and even Zoom meetings in order to stay connected, informed, and engaged. Although we’re all eager to get back to business as usual, this can also be an incredible time of reflection and a re-evaluation of personal priorities and values.

As the College continues to grow and evolve in the coming years, I look forward to showcasing our strong and exciting undergraduate programs while ensuring students can access everything they need to be successful. I also look forward to working with you to identify and develop new graduate degree and certificate programs, as well as recruit and retain faculty and graduate students that reflect the tremendous diversity of the undergraduate population and our nation.

We must remember to acknowledge and celebrate every step along the way and invest in the relationships that keep us grounded, supported, and energized. Let’s always remember to take pride in being a liberal arts and science community.

I am proud to be here with you.

Kecia M. Thomas
Dean
College of Arts and Sciences

robert palazzo