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Inclusive Excellence

 
 

Dean’s Message

kecia thomasI’m frequently asked about my goals for the College. Like many others in my role, I typically respond with talking about the important goals related to the retention and graduation of our students, the role of community engagement to serve our state and develop the career readiness of our students, as well as supporting the critical research and scholarship of our faculty. For me, accomplishing those goals means that our overarching goal must be to become a model of Inclusive Excellence.

I have spent almost 30 years as a professor of industrial/organizational psychology engaging in research and developing practices to support a variety of organizations in achieving their diversity-related goals. These organizations understood that given the complexity of the world today, we cannot truly be excellent without recruiting, retaining, and developing diverse talent. Diversity in our classrooms, laboratories, and studios helps us to be more transparent in our communication and motivates us to challenge our assumptions rather than rely on tacit knowledge and group-think that can derail and impair our decision making. Diversity also broadens the experiences, perspectives, and skills we use to analyze and solve our most pressing problems by expanding our tool kits. A diversity of talent helps us make better decisions that reflect and serve the richness of our community. Yet none of these benefits can be realized without a culture of inclusion.

It is critical that our diverse college of students, faculty, and staff have an opportunity to be excellent in their roles by making sure that we have a culture of Inclusive Excellence; that is, that each member of the College of Arts and Sciences understands that they have an opportunity for voice, a sense of value and of belonging, as well as feelings of investment and ownership in our collaborative mission to serve the educational needs of our community.

Kecia M. Thomas
Dean
College of Arts and Sciences

Academic Offerings

In 2020, the College of Arts and Sciences announced a new grants program aimed at supporting students’ diversity awareness and building their multicultural competence. Through the program — entitled Building a Multicultural Curriculum — faculty can access grants to develop new courses or revise existing courses. Faculty can use the funds to pay for instructional materials, professional development, student assistants, and salaries.

Below is a list of the 2023-2024 grant recipients and their respective courses:

  • Devon Golaszwski, Ph.D., Department of History: “The History of Modern Medicine”
  • Ling Ma, MAEd., Department of World Languages and Literatures: “Multicultural City: Heritage through Festivals”

Tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-earning CAS faculty can learn more about the program and the application process here.

Dione Moultrie King, Ph.D.Read about Dr. Dione King’s course titled, “The Health and Well-being of Black Americans: A Social Work Approach.”

Dione Moultrie King, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Social Work, was one of the faculty members who received a 2020-2021 Building a Multicultural Curriculum Grant. King’s research focuses on minority health disparities and adverse childhood experiences, and she has a deep interest in preparing her students to serve communities effectively. With this in mind, King used her grant to develop a new course entitled, “The Health and Well-being of Black Americans: A Social Work Approach,” which she taught for the first time in Spring 2021. “The main objective was for students to critically examine and explore macro systems that have contributed to structural and systematic health disparities for Black Americans in the U.S.,” said King. “This was very much at the macro level.” Overall, King and her students viewed the course as a success. “The evaluations that I received from this class…were simply amazing. The averages are extremely high for this type of content. Students are saying this course should be a requirement,” said King.

If you would like to learn more about other majors, minors, and courses that elevate Inclusive Excellence across the College — including the B.A. in African American Studies, Ph.D. in Medical Sociology, and M.A. in Anthropology of Peace and Human Rights — visit and explore our undergraduate degrees and/or graduate degrees pages.

Equity Advisors

The College of Arts and Sciences has three equity advisors who serve on the institution’s Equity Leadership Council and actively advise the dean and the College’s leadership team. Also, the equity advisors serve as a critical resource for faculty, staff, and students.

The equity advisors also co-chair the College’s Committee on Inclusive Excellence, support and monitor search committees, and collaborate with colleagues in the College and across the university to create and sustain an inclusive learning and work environment.


Meet the Equity Advisors

Shahid Mukhtar, Ph.D.

Shahid Mukhtar, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Biology
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (205) 934-8335

About Dr. Mukhtar:
Dr. Mukhtar earned his Ph.D. from the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany. His research at UAB focuses on the interface of bioinformatics and life sciences. He has a strong track record of mentoring students who have won awards and scholarships, including the Rising Star Award from UAB National Alumni Society and an NSF Graduate Research Scholar Program fellowship. See Dr. Mukhtar's faculty bio.

Chris Biga

Chris Biga, Ph.D.

Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Director, Undergraduate Studies
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (205) 934-8408
Office: HHB 460J

About Dr. Biga:
Dr. Biga earned his B.A. in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Nebraska. He went on to earn his M.A. in Sociology from the University of New Orleans and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Washington State University. The central tenet of his teaching philosophy for all undergraduate courses is to encourage students to develop and nurture critical thinking skills. Whether the class is Introduction to Sociology, Popular Culture, Environmental Sociology, Social Statistics, or the Research Experience course, Dr. Biga’s primary goal is to encourage students to critically evaluate the social world. See Dr. Biga’s faculty bio.

Brynn Welch, Ph.D.

Brynn Welch, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (205) 934-0991
Office: UH 5007

About Dr. Welch:
Dr. Welch earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Davidson College. She went on to earn an M.A. in Philosophy and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Welch is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, and her research and teaching interests include applied ethics and social/political philosophy. In 2021, she received the Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences. See Dr. Welch’s faculty bio.

Hear from Our Faculty and Alumni

At the start of the Fall 2020 semester, the College of Arts and Sciences ran a six-week social media campaign focusing on race and social justice and the College’s commitment to these issues. The idea was to highlight the College’s consistent offering of courses around these topics and offer encouragement for students, faculty, and staff looking for a diverse and inclusive community. The posts featured faculty and alumni quotes and course information organized under three categories — People and Communities, Culture and Media, and Politics and Protest — for a total of 17 unique posts published across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Institute for Human Rights

people walking outside during the Institute for Human Rights symposiumEstablished in 2014 by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for Human Rights began operations in 2016. Tina Kempin Reuter, Ph.D., was hired to lead the Institute in early 2016.

The Institute’s vision is to prepare, transform, and support the leaders of the global human rights community by creating innovative educational programs, research initiatives, and outreach solutions. The Institute’s student interns and faculty associates frequently publish blogs that shed light on how fundamental human rights can be used to address global issues.

The Institute serves as an internationally renowned platform for interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration for scholars, educators, students, practitioners, and activists to raise awareness, engage in education, foster research, and design initiatives for practical action and outreach resulting in the promotion and protection of human and civil rights locally, nationally, and globally.

In 2022, Reuter and her colleagues launched UAB Social Science and Justice Research (SSJR), a pilot initiative of the University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Centers Program (UWIRC). SSJR serves as UAB's focal point for academic research studying and addressing issues of social justice and equity.

Institute for Human Rights Events

The Institute for Human Rights hosts and facilitates summits, conferences, and monthly Social Justice Cafes. The Institute invites faculty, students, staff, and community members to participate in these experiences — you can learn more about upcoming events using the links below.

 

Events

 

Reach Out

The College of Arts and Sciences prioritizes inclusive storytelling across all communications channels. The College’s communications team invites faculty, staff, and students to offer ideas and recommendations for future stories, videos, and campaigns. Please reach out to Chris McCauley, Director of Communications, and share your ideas. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..