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From Surviving to Thriving

Thursday, February 25, 2016

In my first month as dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, I’ve learned I am in a very fortunate position. Our College is rich in talented faculty and staff, inspiring students, and devoted alumni. I am grateful to have met so many of you already and be welcomed so warmly to Mount Oread. Each conversation makes me more and more excited to be your dean. Your dedication and engagement make the College a truly exciting place. As I think about the ways I can best serve you as dean, I know that my greatest resource is the people who support the mission of the liberal arts and sciences at KU.

When I think about what a thriving College of Liberal Arts & Sciences looks like, that vision becomes reality through support. Support of faculty in their world-class research and commitment to instruct students in the way they learn best. Support to retain our best talent. Support to help our students, faculty and staff reach the next level of success and to intervene when they are struggling.

I know we are in a climate of challenging financial means. However, I believe we can leverage our current resources in innovative ways to find more secure financial footing. My key priorities in my first year are to enhance student recruitment throughout our state, improve retention rates, and push for more research funding through seed grants. As I meet with departments across the College, I am learning how working together we can make those priorities a reality.

Most importantly these efforts can only succeed when we foster an environment that is welcoming, supportive and inclusive to all. The College will be proactive in these efforts and serve as a model for the campus and our aspirational peers. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences bears great responsibility in the overall excellence of KU. As the largest academic unit, we educate the most students and hire the most faculty. What we do often sets a model for others to follow. Many of you stepped up immediately when offered an opportunity to mentor students who might have otherwise been lost to academic dismissal. You have my heartfelt thanks for your service – you are making a real difference for some of our most at-risk students. I am excited to build on that success in a proactive and systematic manner in the next year and beyond.

I am eager to learn from you how I can position the College to not just survive but thrive. I’ve concentrated my time on getting to know the people who make the College tick. My goal is to meet with every department within my first six months if not sooner. As the individuals directly engaged in educating students and producing research, faculty and staff know firsthand what is necessary for our success.

Although I have made it to only a handful of departments so far, I’ve already learned so much about what makes our College and university special. We serve our state as an incubator for future leaders and as a steward of Kansas’ rich history, culture and geography. We encourage students to apply their skills early in their careers alongside renowned researchers and through internship opportunities from local non-profits to the White House. And we teach a curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences that teaches students to be creative, critical thinkers ready to make change when they graduate.

I am honored to carry on the tradition that has been built through generations and lead the College into a new era of excellence. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your dean. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.

- Carl