Dean's Newsletter

Vol. 6, Issue 1

Fall 2011: Vol. 6, Issue 1

Sitting in my 18th-floor office, I have a good view of Burke Lakefront Airport and the preparations for the annual Labor Day weekend air show. Each year I am amazed at and delighted with the wild artistic maneuvers of the various stunt planes. Just the other day, a small plane, straining to break the bonds of gravity by shooting straight upward from the earth, reached its airy apex, revolved in a delicate pirouette, and then plummeted to earth, breaking its straight drop just in the nick of time and scooting off jauntily toward the horizon, confident in its sheer energy and daring. That plane maneuver is the perfect symbol of vitality and joie de vivre, and, while CLASS flew through some very rough weather last year, I like to think that this maneuver captures in some significant way our revived spirits as we start this year’s fall semester.

We saw this spirit at the recent Orientation Day, when the campus hosted a very large number of incoming first-year students. We had expected between 40 and 80 of our new CLASS students to attend our introduction to the college, but over 350 excited students showed up, and they filled Drinko Auditorium. They interacted eagerly with Matt Jackson-McCabe, Murali Nair, and Michael Mauldin, as we introduced them to the various divisions and subjects that make up our college. Later that day, an excited crowd of first-year students packed the Convocation Ceremony in Waetjen Auditorium and were officially welcomed as students to CSU.

Those first-year students are helping to make up the approximately 3,800 CLASS majors this fall. CLASS managed to hold onto most of the strong enrollment gains of last year. While our undergraduate enrollments (student credit hours) are down by 1.6% from last fall, our graduate enrollments are up by 6.9%. However, our overall headcount is up 1.9%.

Adding to the college’s energy are eight new full-time faculty members and three new department leaders. We have four new tenure-track hires. Shelley Rose comes to us from Binghamton University with a Ph.D. in modern German history. Dr. Rose was hired by the History Department to teach in their social studies program, which is basically oriented to training secondary education teachers. Also important for our education programs is Andrés Peralta, who was hired to teach art education in the Department of Art. Dr. Peralta received his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. Soo-Yeon Kim, who will serve in the School of Communication, comes to us from the University of Florida and is an expert in public relations. Finally, with a Ph.D from Indiana University, Linda Francis is already a seasoned and well published scholar in the sociology of health. She comes to our Department of Sociology and Criminology from Case Western Reserve University, where she was a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Medicine and Prevention Research.

CLASS also hired some full-time faculty members who are not in tenure-track lines. Sara Loss has been hired as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English to teach courses in linguistics and in the English language (again, for secondary education candidates). Dr. Loss comes to us with a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Minnesota. After unexpected last-minute resignations, we were also given permission to make three emergency hires. George Tsagaris had a long and successful career in various positions related to the Juvenile Division of the Court of Common Pleas and is now a Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. Dr. Tsagaris holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education from CSU. Visiting Assistant Professor Michael Baumgartner comes to the Department of Music with a Ph.D. from the University of Salzburg. Dr. Baumgartner will teach music history. Finally, Haimanti Banerjee is a new Visiting Assistant Professor in Economics. Dr. Banerjee earned a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of our new full-time faculty members and wish them a successful academic year.

In addition to our new faculty, we have four new CLASS leaders. George Ray, an expert in inter-racial communication, has become the new Director of the School of Communication. Mary Ellen Waithe, an expert in bioethics and the history of women in philosophy, is now the chairperson of the Department of Philosophy, and she will also continue to lead the Women’s Studies program. Now leading our Department of Art is Jennifer Visocky O’Grady, who is an expert in graphic design. (I should also note in passing that, although he is not new, Myong Chang is also beginning his third term as chairperson of the Department of Economics.) Finally, as I announced in a letter last summer, Joyce Mastboom has been appointed to succeed Teresa LaGrange as Associate Dean for Curriculum. A former chairperson of the Department of History and also Director of the Liberal Studies program, Dr. Mastboom brings a wealth of administrative experience to this position, and I am confident that she will provide steady leadership in this important new role. The college has indeed been fortunate that very talented faculty colleagues have always stepped forward in critical times to take important positions of administrative responsibility. This year’s group is no exception.

Adding extra excitement is the forthcoming move of our Departments of Art and Theatre and Dance to the new Fine Arts campus in December. Work is almost completed on the remodeled Allen Theater, which is now a beautiful and intimate theater of 500 seats. The Cleveland Play House will soon inaugurate the space with its production of The Life of Galileo. The other two performance areas are not as far along, but they will be ready by the time our departments move into the building in December. Work on the 5th and 2nd floors of the Middough Building moves on apace. The 5th floor is much farther along, and one can begin to appreciate just how spectacular these classrooms and rehearsal spaces will be for our fine arts faculty and students.

Deals for the Art Gallery space in the Cowell and Hubbard Building (on 13th and Euclid) and for digital media and film space in the Idea Center, however, have not yet been closed. CSU administrators continue to move forward on these pieces of the Fine Arts campus, and I will keep you informed on progress in these areas as it occurs.

Also exciting are the recent successes of our faculty. Here are a few you should know about. Antonio Medina-Rivera received an Edge Grant from the CSU Office of Institutional Diversity. Michael Dumanis won a competitive Ohio Arts Council-sponsored fall 2011 residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA. The eTech Ohio Commission awarded the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities (Mark Tebeau and Mark Souther) the top prize in the Ohio Mobil Apps Development contest for their mobile application Cleveland Historical. In addition, the Center also won a $50,000 Digital Humanities Start-up Grant for the project from the National Endowment for the Humanities. historians, however, are not the only CSU faculty members to be noticed by NEH. Sonya Charles was also awarded an NEH grant. Dr. Charles’ Enduring Questions project, funded at $24,800, is to create a new course entitled “What would an Ideal Society Look Like?” Neda Zawahri won a grant from the Social Science Research Council to create a lecture series on “Scholarship in the Contemporary Muslim World.” Finally, Subhra Saha received a 3-year, $96,600 research grant from the National Science Foundation to study “The Economic Spillovers of Science.”

I should also note the recent successes of some of our students. For example, Sharon Jefferson is a student in our English M.A. program, and her play “Bald-Headed Divas” was selected for reading at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. English NEOMFA students also had notable publication successes. Rachele Alpine’s novel, Canary, has recently been accepted for publication by Medallion Press, the first time one of our students ever had a novel accepted for publication while still in the program. Eliese Golbach published a creative non-fiction essay in the Western Humanities Review. Finally, one of Chris Smith’s poems won a prestigious award from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and, as a result, will be published in Puerto del Sol (New Mexico State University).

CLASS undergraduate students were, as usual, also busy last summer. I can highlight just a few examples. CLASS again ran summer study-abroad programs. Murali Nair took 10 students to Kerala, India, where they had an extended experience with Indian culture. We have an attractive photo of the group, dressed in Indian garb, displayed in the Dean’s Office. The Department of Modern Languages offered two study abroad opportunities over the summer. Eight students studied with Maureen (Reenie) Pruitt in Mexico, and nine students went with Stephen Gingerich to Grenada in Spain. In addition, Anthropology and Political Science students worked on summer research projects with the help of their faculty mentors and funds provided by the Provost’s Office. Michael Agnich, Kerianne Armelli, Sarah Arth, Emily Bettin, Adena Muskin, Dick Powis, Valentine Volk, and Vanessa Willaman worked with Paul Aspelin and Phillip Wanyerka on a project entitled “Making Sense of Cleveland’s Past: The Archaeological Collection from the ‘Mall A’ Construction Site, Cleveland, Ohio.” In addition, Aleksandra Misovic worked with Justin Vaughn to produce a study entitled “The Substantive Impact of First Lady Policy Activism.” I attended the Undergraduate Research Poster Session on September 8, and I can tell you that the posters and displays produced by these CLASS undergraduates were first-rate and made me very proud of our students.

The fall semester will be very busy as well. For example, in honor of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Rob Shelton is hosting a scholarly conference on campus entitled “Ohio Goes to War: The Sectional Crisis and the Fight for Freedom.” The conference, which is being jointly sponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council and several Northeast Ohio universities, will take place in the CSU Student Center on the 9th and 10th of September. Check the Department of History’s web site for a schedule of free public lectures. In addition, Antonio Medina-Rivera has organized the fourth Crossing Over Conference, which is sponsored by our humanities lecture series, Cultural Crossings, and will take place on October 7th through the 9th. The keynote speaker for this conference will be Dr. Homi K. Bhabha of Harvard University. Another free public lecture, entitled “How Will the Arab Spring Affect the Prospects for Peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” will be delivered by David Makovski at noon on September 21st. The lecture is jointly sponsored by CLASS and Cleveland Hillel. Moreover, check out our new September/October Arts Calendar, which has just been published, for ideas on which campus arts events to attend. Many exciting art exhibitions and music concerts will be available throughout the next two months. For example, Cleveland Contemporary Players has two exciting concerts scheduled, and Jeffrey Siegel will continue his well received Keyboard Conversations on October 2nd. In addition, in October the Department of Theatre and Dance is staging Jean Paul Sartre’s classic work “No Exit.” Finally, take advantage of a unique opportunity, available from September through December of 2011, to see the Russell and Rowena Jeliffe art collection at Cleveland’s Maltz Museum. The Jeliffe collection, owned by the CSU Black Studies Program, is a collection of prints, drawings, and paintings produced by African-American artists during the Great Depression. The artists were associated with the Karamu House in Cleveland. Since we do not have a dedicated space to permanently display the collection, the paintings have been unavailable for viewing until now, so don’t miss this opportunity.

As I do every year, I will conclude by inviting you to our CLASS fall reception. The reception will take place in the Waetjen Auditorium lobby on Thursday, September 22nd, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. While we won’t have stunt planes doing aerial acrobatics, we will have lots of good food, music, and prizes. Come and meet your new faculty colleagues and co-workers!

Best wishes,