Dean's Newsletter

Volume 13, Issue 5

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

Volume 13, Issue 5

In the fall of 2006, my second year as dean, I wrote and disseminated my first CLASS Directions as a way to improve what had been identified by faculty as a significant college problem: poor internal communication. I felt that the faculty and staff needed to hear from the Dean on a regular basis, and I hope that, in some small way, this publication has served its purpose. I continued the newsletter for 13 years, and I truly enjoyed writing it. However, since I will be leaving the Dean's Office in about three weeks, this will be my last issue.

If I had thought that my last CLASS Directions would be newsletter filled with nostalgia and quiet reflection, I was painfully mistaken. Recent events have made the Dean's Office a hub of intense activity, and we in the Dean's Office will continue to be fully engaged over the next three weeks as we prepare for a major leadership transition and plan for yet another not insignificant budget cut.

We have all been aware that CLASS would be welcoming a new Interim Dean, Allyson Robichaud on July 1st. Allyson and I have been meeting regularly, and I am confident that she will enter this office on July 1st fully prepared to lead the college into its next era. What we were less well prepared for was a change in leadership at the Associate Dean level. As you now know, Cheryl Bracken has been invited to become Interim Vice Provost for the CSU Faculty, replacing Bill Morgan, and Myong Chang has expressed his desire to return to the Economics faculty as of July 1st. Thus, both CLASS Associate Dean positions became vacant, and we were forced to hire replacements quickly. Fortunately, Allyson was able to recruit two outstanding replacements, both of whom will start on July 1st. Wendy Regoeczi will become Interim Associate Dean for the Faculty, and Rob Shelton will become Interim Associate Dean for Curriculum. In addition to these two new Associate Deans, CLASS will also need to recruit a new budget officer, as Beth Carleton will be retiring at the end of June. The hiring process is well underway, and the college should have a new budget officer in place soon after July 1st. Finally, I am pleased to announce that Yolanda Sullins, who is currently secretary in the Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion, will move into the Dean's Office to replace Aimee Furio, who moved over to the College of Education.

The new team is impressive, and I look forward to hearing about all the ways that the college will move forward under their leadership in the next few years. However, I do want to take just a moment to thank the current leadership team for their hard work and dedication, whether it was over the past year or over the past 14 years. Myong Chang brought crisp organization and rigorous attention to detail to the office, and I enjoyed working with him over the past year. Cheryl Bracken brought energy, new ideas, and a willingness to reach out to constituents beyond the confines of the Dean's Office. With her background in the AAUP, she provided the requisite knowledge of faculty affairs and a willingness to work hard to find solutions to pressing problems. This is not necessarily a permanent good-bye, however. Her term as Vice Provost is as yet unspecified, and she will have the right to reclaim her position as Associate Dean when she is no longer needed in the Provost's Office.

With Beth Carleton as Budget Officer, I never had to worry whether or not our books were in order. She was careful and dedicated in her work. Going forward, Lesley Lang and Jody Milkie will carry the Dean's Office institutional memory. Lesley has been with us for ten years, and Jody, who is truly the anchor that keeps the Dean's Office working at its highest levels, was here when I arrived back in 2005! I know that Allyson will count on both of them to help keep Dean's Office operations moving ahead smoothly, and I want to thank them for all their contributions during my time as dean. I also want to recognize Tolu Falae, our secretary and the newest member of the Dean's Office, who has had a strong start.

The second major challenge of this period is the university's projected budget shortfall going into AY 19-20. Since I covered this topic in detail in my last issue of CLASS Directions, I won't spend too much time with it now. My current understanding is that the shortfall is somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million to $9 million. In other words, it's substantial. As I mentioned last time, CSU enrollments decreased during AY 18-19, and enrollments for AY 19-20 are down again. The resulting decline in tuition and fees is raising a major challenge for the university leadership. The leadership has been considering a number of options to deal with the projected shortfall, but until this past Wednesday we were not sure that a budget cut would be a chosen option. However, on Wednesday we learned that there will, in fact, be a budget cut and that the Office of Academic Affairs was given a cut target of 2%. The Provost will soon assign cuts to individual academic units in the university, but those cuts will not be 2% across the board. Different colleges will have different targets.

So CLASS will soon experience another budget cut—the last in my tenure as dean. We don't know yet how much, but I can tell you that we will have to make decisions quickly once the CLASS target is announced. The CLASS permanent budget is around $22.9 million, and 2% of the budget is approximately $459,000. It is also important to note that approximately 95% of our budget goes toward salaries and fringes. Once I find out the exact size of our cut, I will work with the Dean’s Office staff to meet our target before I leave office and with as little impact on current employees as possible.

One of the strategies to meet the budget shortfall is what has been called "position management." In short, this has been a kind of selective hiring freeze over a portion of the spring semester. During this freeze, CLASS was not able to replace secretaries or clerical admins in Social Work, Communication, and the Dean's Office. As a result, we have reassigned some of our current secretarial staff. As I noted earlier, Yolanda Sullins will move to the Dean's Office, and Mark Wirtz (from English) will be moving half-time to Communication. We are currently working to fill the Social Work position with another internal transfer. I would like to thank the affected chairpersons and departments for their generous willingness to help out in these challenging circumstances.

Now to some better news. Our faculty and students continue to be recognized for their excellence. One of the CSU Valedictorians for this spring, for example, was Kaila Griffin, a double major in Criminology and Accounting. Indeed, Kaila was also spring Valedictorian for both CLASS and the College of Business. Moreover, she was not only given the Distinguished Student Award by the Department of Criminology, Anthropology, and Sociology but was also a member of several honor societies. Her plans are to work for the FBI, and she has already served as a member of the FBI Student Academy and as an FBI intern.

Another CLASS student who was honored was MaryAnn Dowdell, a Sullivan-Deckard Scholar and English major. With a cumulative GPA of over 3.8, MaryAnn is also a CLASS Scholar. She was chosen to give the student speech at this year's Radiance event, where the Sullivan and Deckard families were honored for their philanthropy. It was a powerful speech, and it brought the crowd to its feet for a standing ovation, making us all very proud. After graduation, MaryAnn will begin her graduate studies in the Department of English.

Annie Jouan-Westlund reports that several of her French students were honored with various awards. Abigail Wolgamuth won the 1st College-level Prize in the Concours de la Maison Française in Cleveland. Abigail and Gabriella Guy were also accepted into the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). This highly-competitive award will allow them to spend one year teaching in France or one of the French overseas departments.

Qian Li reports that two of her students won prizes at the Wonderful World of International Student Media Exhibition and Competition that just took place in China. Austin DiLorenzo's team won the Best Music Video Award, and Guillermo Meza's team won the Best Short Documentary Film Award.

Several of our faculty colleagues were also honored this spring. Having received no applications for the CLASS Award for Excellence in Teaching, the college decided to give two awards for Excellence in Scholarship. One award went to Phuong Ngo in the Department of Economics, and the second award was given to Stephanie Hinnershitz from the Department of History. On the university level, two of our colleagues were honored. Marnie Rodriguez was given the Lecturer Award for Distinguished Teaching, and Patty Stoddard Dare was awarded the CSU Distinguished Research Award.

I would like to add that Mark Souther recently was awarded the John Nolen Research Fund Award, which will enable him to carry out research in the Cornell University Library. Cigdem Slankard received a $5000 award from SPACES through its "Urgent Art Fund." This will enable her to work on her virtual reality documentary entitled "Breaking Bread," about refugee communities in Cleveland. It is also noteworthy that nine of our colleagues were awarded grants to fund summer undergraduate research projects. These colleagues are: Kim Fuller, Anne Berry, Phil Wanyerka, Meghan Novisky, Antonio Medina-Rivera, Lynn Deering, Joel Lieske, Cigdem Slankard, and Phuong Ngo.

Congratulations to all these grant and award winners! Our students and colleagues have given us much to be proud of, and, when I think about all the wonderful teaching, research, and creative activity that goes on in this college, I realize that these winners represent only the tip of the iceberg!

As I leave the Dean's Office, I would like to thank you all for all the kind and generous remarks you have made to me about my work as dean. In addition, I really want to thank all of you who attended my farewell reception on May 2nd. It was truly a heartwarming affair! As I've said many times, this job has been the highpoint of my career, and it has been a true honor to have served such a distinguished group of faculty and staff. I will carry many wonderful memories of these years with me as I move on to the next stage.

But, as it turns out, I won't be moving too far. I have decided to return to the CSU faculty in the fall. My office will be in the Department of English, but I look forward to greeting each of you from time to time as I wander around campus thinking about my next lesson plan! Have a great summer!

Best wishes,