Dean's Newsletter

Volume 8, Issue 3

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

Volume 8, Issue 3

“Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending.” - George Eliot

Having brought her novel, Middlemarch, to its logical end, George Eliot cannot resist giving her readers a quick, concluding summary of the varied futures of her major characters, Dorothea and Ladislaw, Rosemond and Lydgate, Fred Vincy and Mary Garth, “for the fragment of a life, however typical, is not the sample of an even web: promises may not be kept, and an ardent outset may be followed by declension; latent powers may find their long-waited opportunity; a past error may urge a grand retrieval,” as, indeed, the succeeding fortunes of her characters illustrate. “Every limit,” then, “is a beginning as well as an ending,” but the outcome of one phase of life does not necessarily predict the outcome of the next.

This is an apt observation for this particular newsletter, which comes, as it does, at the end of our semester, the end of the calendar year, and the end of the college’s current strategic plan. All three events mark limits—beginnings and endings. With our new year’s resolutions, we step over the year’s limit without guarantees but with hope, trying to shape our best possible personal future. With the college’s new strategic plan, we will also try to step over the limit with hope, fashioning the best possible future for our college. For strategic plans are indeed a kind of academic self-fashioning, and, at its best, ours will provide useful, practical steps to bring us to where we would like to be in five years.

Earlier in the semester I outlined a timetable for formulating a new strategic plan, but the college has been directed to speed up the process. In our last faculty meeting, therefore, I put forth a new timetable. This one calls for a draft of a strategic plan by December 20th, and a revision process that will end with a faculty vote on the new strategic plan at our CLASS faculty meeting of April 21st, 2014. In addition, we have been given guidelines about what should appear in the draft. Among the items in our draft we should indicate some kind of program prioritization, outline the ties between our program prioritization and our fund raising efforts, and give an indication of future space needs of the college. The timeline for submission of the draft is short, but in the current two-week period I have been conferring with the CLASS Budget and Planning Committee, the Dean’s Advisory Committee, and the CLASS Cabinet. In the meantime, Linda Francis and Jill Rudd will begin to hold the planned focus group sessions with various college stakeholders. These should begin on December 17th and be completed by February 15th. That will give us a full two months to prepare the final draft of the strategic plan to present to the faculty for ratification on April 21st.

Speaking of “strategy,” I recently attended a China strategy meeting with President Berkman and other deans and administrators. The President is making China a top priority for university engagement and, in particular, university recruiting. He has hired a new Vice Provost, Peng Lu, to spearhead efforts to draw significant numbers of new Chinese students to the CSU campus. My trip to China, then, appears to have been well timed, allowing CLASS a seat at the table as these ambitious new plans are being crafted.

As I reported in our last faculty meeting, during our early November trip, Qingshan Tan, Angelin Chang, and I visited three Chinese comprehensive universities (Guangxi, Jilin, and Northeastern Universities) and one conservatory of music (Shanghai). We were warmly received at each stop, and I believe that there are real opportunities for substantial outcomes with each. Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Exchanging faculty, student, and ensembles in Music
  • Creating short summer courses for Chinese students in English
  • Setting up 2 + 2 BA programs in English
  • Recruiting students for a semester to complete the Certificate in American Studies
  • Exchanging faculty in English and Political Science
  • Recruiting Chinese students for our 3 + 1 + 1 MAGI program
  • Recruiting our MA and even BA graduates to teach English language in China

In addition, Peng Lu believes that there are good possibilities to recruit significant numbers of new Chinese students into our undergraduate and graduate programs in Communication.

On the evening of December 5th, twelve CLASS Scholars, their families and friends, 26 CLASS faculty members, and 3 CLASS advisers gathered to celebrate the achievements of our best and brightest students. This was another liminal experience—marking both endings and beginnings. Because the CLASS Valedictorian, Dick Powis, was also selected as this semester’s university Valedictorian, there was even more to celebrate. After a short career as a chef, Mr. Powis entered CSU at age 24, determined to study anthropology. He accomplished his goal and is graduating with a BA in anthropology and minors in French and biology. During his busy years at CSU, he participated in many departmental co-curricular activities and conducted anthropological research (in French) for two summers in Senegal. This research was funded by Provost summer undergraduate research funding. He received several awards and honors, including a Radiance Scholarship, a John D. Holm Scholarship, and a Samuel H. Miller Scholarship. In addition, he was chosen “Emerging Leader in Medical Anthropology” by the national Society for Medical Anthropology. After graduation, Mr. Powis plans to pursue both a Ph.D. in Anthropology as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Health. All in all, he is a wonderful example of what our non-traditional CLASS students can accomplish, and all signs point to a successful upcoming career in academia.

In addition, each of the other CLASS scholars had his or her own success story, similar to that of Dick Powis. While George Eliot can’t offer us a summary of their futures, and while we recall her warnings that the outcomes of one phase of life do not rigidly predict the outcomes of another, I believe we can be fairly certain that our scholars’ futures will be filled with a considerable measure of success. I am quite certain that they will make us proud.

Thanks to everyone who helped make that evening so memorable.

Mr. Powis will be honored at the Commencement Ceremony, a particularly significant ceremonial limit, on Sunday, December 15th. At that ceremony, Congressman John R. Lewis, pioneering civil rights activist, will be given an honorary doctorate and will also give the commencement address. It should be a particularly interesting ceremony for those in our college, and I am hoping that CLASS faculty will be well represented.

As we again cross the threshold of the new year, I close by wishing you and your significant others a joyous holiday season and a new year filled with health and good success. While there are no guarantees for the future, together we can do our best to cross the year’s limit with good hope for our personal as well as our collective futures.

Best wishes,

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