Dean's Newsletter

Volume 12, Issue 1

A Newsletter for Faculty & Staff in the
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Volume 12, Issue 1

There is nothing for which nature seems to have given us such a bent as for society. … Of a perfect society friendship is the peak.”
-Michel de Montaigne

Welcome to the 2017-18 academic year! For those of you who are new to the college, this newsletter, written specifically for CLASS faculty and staff, is published about six times a year. It is my attempt to keep the CLASS community abreast of important college issues, events, and successes. Your comments are always appreciated.

As I reported to the chairs and directors at our annual Cabinet Retreat, the basic state of the college at the beginning of this academic year is strong. Our headcount for fall semester is down by about 1%, to right around 3,000 students, but given the demographic context in Northeast Ohio, it is respectable. Our continuing faculty and staff are top-notch, and our cohort of chairs and directors is both strong and stable. We have a new CLASS Director of Advancement, a new Director of the Black Studies Program, and a new Director of the School of Film & Media Arts. We will also welcome nine new full-time faculty to our ranks and one new half-time secretary. Moreover, we have some new initiatives to be proud of. Our School of Film & Media Arts officially came into existence on July 1st. We also have a new, interdisciplinary research center, The Center for Behavioral Health Sciences, which is directed by Cathleen Lewandowski and housed in the School of Social Work. Finally, this semester we kick off our new B.A. program in Dance!

Our fiscal context, unfortunately, casts a bit of shadow onto the foregoing sunny developments. Last spring, as a part of a university-wide budget cut, our college experienced a reduction of 3.4% ($748,000) to our permanent budget. Then, toward the end of the summer, we learned that we would have to cut an additional 1.75%, or $379,990, from this year’s temporary budget. (The temporary budget is the total amount of money that the college has to spend during this particular academic year.) We are fortunate that, with the support of the Provost, we were able to deal with the first round of cuts mostly by giving up unoccupied faculty or staff lines. However, this is not the case with the second. I can now tell you that, on one hand, no layoffs will occur due to the latest cuts, but, on the other, we will have further cuts to department and school non-salary lines. As a result, these units will have to rely on their gift and discretionary accounts more heavily than usual this year. Although the college will have enough money to carry out its basic functions, there will be little money for extra discretionary spending. We may also have to ask various staff members to adjust their duties somewhat this year in order to cover for a staff hire that we cannot make at this time. I thank all CLASS faculty and staff for bearing with us as we implement these cuts and for working hard to make sure that, despite the cuts, we have another successful academic year.

Our new faculty appointments will bring a remarkable amount of new talent and new energy to the college. Here is a quick rundown:

School of Film & Media Arts

  • Professor Frederic Lahey, Director (M.F.A. Columbia University; Founding Director of the Colorado Film School)

Black Studies Program

  • Associate Professor Thomas Bynum, Director (Ph.D. Georgia State University; former Director of the African American Studies Program, Middle Tennessee State University)

School of Communication

  • Assistant College Lecturer Eryn Bostwick (M.A. University of Oklahoma)
  • Visiting Assistant Professor Juan Liu (Ph.D. Wayne State University)

Department of Economics

  • Visiting Assistant Professor Esubalew Tiruneh (Ph.D. University of Trento, Italy)

School of Social Work

  • Assistant Professor Jessica Nobile (Ph.D. University of Georgia)
  • Assistant College Lecturer Victoria Winbush (Ph.D. Smith College; formerly a Visiting Assistant Professor)

Department of English

  • Assistant College Lecturer Hilary Plum (M.F.A. University of Massachusetts—Amherst)

Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion

  • Assistant College Lecturer Marcus Schultz-Bergin (M.A. Bowling Green University)

Department of Criminology, Anthropology, and Sociology

  • Assistant Professor Katherine Olszowy (Ph.D. Binghamton University; formerly a Visiting Assistant Professor)

Department of Music

  • Assistant College Lecturer Barry Hartz (Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, formerly a Visiting Assistant Lecturer)

In addition to these, we will also host three international visiting scholars this year. They are:

Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

  • Fulbright Visiting Professor Monika Fodor (Ph.D. University of Pécs, Hungary)

Department of Music

  • Carmen Fregoneze (Ph.D. The Catholic University of America)

Department Criminology, Anthropology, Sociology

  • Usman Ibrahim (Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria)

As to new staff: the college has hired one new half-time secretary: Noelle Williams, who serves in the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. In addition, our new Director of Advancement is Constance (Connie) Kopec, a CSU alumna (B.A., Communication and M.A., English) with significant work experience in development, having served at Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Play House, The Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, and, most recently, Kent State University. We are very fortunate to bring someone with these credentials onto our team!

Besides these, each year the college hires a large number of part-time faculty, who teach a significant number of our courses and, thus, help us deliver on our promise of “engaged learning.” This fall, we have hired 16 new adjunct colleagues, and these bring our total pool to 201 part-time lecturers! As you are helping me welcome all our new full-time colleagues—which I hope you do—please also take some time to make our new adjunct faculty feel welcome and appreciated.

As I noted in the opening paragraph, our cohort of departmental and school leadership is strong and stable. Nevertheless, this year will see important changes in the Dean’s Office. Associate Dean Eric Ziolek will retire at the end of the fall semester after three very productive years in his current position, and Associate Dean Joyce Mastboom will retire at the end of the current academic year, having completed seven full years in her position. Both have made significant contributions to the success of this college, not only in the Dean’s Office but also as chairpersons of their respective departments. I will have a chance to more fully praise their accomplishments at a later date, but, for now, I would like to inform CLASS tenured faculty that we will be searching for Dr. Ziolek’s replacement in the fall semester and for Dr. Mastboom’s replacement in the spring. I have already assembled a hiring committee for the fall search, and Gary Pettey has generously agreed to chair it. Other members of the committee are Mark Souther, Jennifer Visocky O’Grady, Wendy Regoeczi, and Jody Milkie. The job description for the position of Associate Dean for the Faculty can be found at We are accepting only electronic applications, and these must be submitted to the same site by September 29th. I encourage tenured colleagues who meet the minimum requirements to consider applying.

Now to some faculty and student success stories. First, the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership is an inter-disciplinary program, housed in the Levin College of Urban Studies, but shared with the Ahuja College of Business and our School of Communication. In a recent ranking by College Choice, the program was ranked #17 of all on-line programs in Organizational Leadership in the United States. Congratulations to our colleagues in the School of Communication on this important recognition!

Second, I would like to share some good news about faculty successes. First, Cathleen Lewandowski won a $246,500 grant from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for a project entitled “Child Welfare Workforce Professional Education Program.” Also on the Social Work faculty, Cyleste Collins won an $8,533 grant from the Veterans Administration for her work with veterans. Finally, Mark Souther and Meshack Owino won a $74,939 Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for their on-going “Curating East Africa” project in Kenya. Dr. Souther also won two smaller grants from the Dittrick Medical History Center ($2,797) and the city of Shaker Heights (about $17,000) for their Curatescape work, helping cities and centers curate their historical heritage. Congratulations to all these award winners! Mark Souther will also be bringing the 17th National Conference on Planning History, organized by the Society of American City and Regional Planning History, to Cleveland on October 26th to the 29th. Some of this conference will take place on CSU’s campus.

In addition, I just learned of another success story concerning one of our alumnae, Mackenzie Paul, who was both CLASS Valedictorian and CSU Valedictorian in fall 2016. Continuing her record of success, Ms. Paul was just awarded a prestigious semester scholarship by the Kosciuszko Foundation to study Polish at Jagiellonian University in Krakow in Poland.

As Montaigne points out in this newsletter’s epigraph, man is by his nature a social animal—we live to be together. So, in light of Montaigne’s insight, I would like to highlight a few social events and gatherings that can bring CLASS faculty and staff together. First, Antonio Medina-Rivera will be bringing his biennial Crossing Over International Symposium (on border studies) to campus on October 6th and 7th. The Keynote Address by Dr. Damon Williams, which is being co-sponsored by CLASS and the CLASS Dean’s Diversity Council, will focus on the subject of diversity and the Centennial Generation. Second, our CLASS Arts Calendar ( is filled with exciting events that can bring us together through the arts—including concerts by the CSU Jazz Ensemble, the CSU Orchestra, the CSU Wind Ensemble, and the CSU Chorus and Chorale; poetry readings in the Lighthouse Reading Series; a dance concert by our resident dance company, GroundWorks Dance Theatre; a performance of the musical Company; a Jeffrey Siegel concert in the Kulas Performance Series; and several different exhibitions in the Galleries at CSU. This large selection of events should keep you well entertained, and much of it is absolutely free. Please consider attending at least one arts event this fall, and bring a friend or colleague!

Finally, I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to join us for the college’s premier social event: our annual Welcome Back Reception. Those of you who received the original invitation will note that we have now changed the date. We have rescheduled it for Tuesday, September 26th, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Waetjen Lobby (in the Music and Communication Building). All CLASS faculty, both full-time and part-time, as well as all CLASS staff members are invited. As always, we will have live music, food, drinks, and door prizes. We will also award our annual CLASS Engaged Service Award. Don’t miss this great opportunity not only to reconnect with your old friends but also to make new ones, for, as Montaigne noted, “Of a perfect society friendship is the peak.”