Office of the Dean

May 2016

Dear Colleagues,

As my first full academic year at Purdue concludes, I want to look back and celebrate all we have accomplished this year. Even as we enter the relative quiet of summer, it is with an eye to the future, and the vision for our College to emerge as a leader in innovative Liberal Arts education and scholarship.

In its first year, the leadership team has worked tirelessly on behalf of the College to move forward many of the initiatives I outlined last May. I am proud of all that they have accomplished for the benefit of our students and this College. Among the highlights:

  • Innovate, which invested $258,000 in 18 proposals, develops new majors, minors, course revisions and certificates in undergraduate education. Next year, our students will be able to pursue studies in medical humanities, human rights, and a new global studies major, all with support from this program.
  • Aspire, which invested $331,000 with 181 awards, supports faculty research and creative endeavor. Aspire has enabled our faculty to share their research in ways that will build our reputation among our colleagues, strengthen faculty connectivity in research networks, and help faculty advance research and creative endeavor.
  • PROMISE awards, which invested $175,000 for 185 awards for graduate student travel and research, is another effort to share the results of our scholarship more broadly.
  • Job-Ready, which provided $51,000 in support for 38 undergraduate students, makes unpaid or low-paid career-launching internships an option for more students.
  • BRASS, a new resource for researchers in the social sciences that provides access to a number of statistical software packages and tools for Purdue researchers without fees, has over 55 current users.

Some iteration of each of these programs will continue. I am appreciative of the significant University investment Provost Dutta provided for our faculty and graduate student research through Aspire and PROMISE.  Alongside these programs, the work of our faculty, staff, and students has been outstanding. I encourage you to review the For the Honor accolades as a reminder of the year’s achievements.

Looking ahead, we will build upon the foundation laid this year to reach even further in the next academic year. On our horizon, we will see:

  • Under the leadership of Professor Melinda Zook, next year the College will establish an integrated program in liberal arts to provide all Purdue students a more coherent and purposeful approach to some of the most interesting material in our fields while including  our courses in their academic plans of study.
  • Continued contributions from our marketing and communications team that has told our story and celebrated our successes on campus and beyond. They will serve as a key resource to help us attract students, those already enrolled and those considering Purdue, to our classes.
  • Increased investment in career advancement to establish the relationships with employers and to provide the connections that will help our students move successfully from their college years to their professional lives.
  • Exploration of new ways to generate financial resources to sustain greater financial independence across the College.

With so much to be proud of this year and so much planned for next year, for me, the greatest point of pride is this.

A year ago, I challenged this College to begin a new chapter, one in which we would celebrate our shared commitment to the Liberal Arts, one in which we would apologize no more. The degree to which that challenge has been accepted and adopted is exceptional. As we have moved into the difficult work of initiating substantive change in our graduate education programs, the passion of our faculty and their unwavering commitment to their disciplines and fields of study has been noteworthy.

The task of providing our graduate students with more competitive stipends and the best mix of teaching and research is not an easy one. It is fraught with complexity, and the answers to the question of how best to move forward are not simple.

Graduate education is central to our research mission. Graduate students play critical roles as junior colleagues in the research enterprise, working with faculty to advance their research agendas. Their energy and vitality help to foster new and creative thinking. They frequently push faculty in established disciplines and fields to explore new frontiers. As beginning instructors, they play critical roles in the delivery of our educational programs. And, their engagement within the university and into the external world helps to extend our intellectual footprint and solidify our identity as a research institution.

Using a variety of resources, I have worked to better understand graduate education in the various academic programs in the College. It is apparent that the singular factor determining the distribution of funds has been undergraduate instruction. While that is an important consideration, it cannot be the sole factor determining the size of our various graduate programs.

In the past, certain units have been under-resourced while others have grown in response to undergraduate teaching needs and choices in curricular design, but not for reasons connected to research and scholarship or particular market demand.

Through the work of the Graduate Education Task Force and conversations over the past handful of months, it has become apparent that approaches to graduate education vary widely across the College. Clearly, in many cases there are sound reasons for that to be the case. The graduate education initiative has attracted substantial attention, even nationally, and the support of the Purdue Graduate Student Association Senate.

I understand the effort remains controversial, but to reach back to conversations I had with our graduate students a year ago, I remain committed to working toward higher graduate stipends, lower teaching loads, and increased research support. Those are the hallmarks of excellence in graduate education, and they should be hallmarks of our commitment to the students who choose Purdue for their graduate study. I remain committed to strengthening our graduate programs and enhancing the overall research reputation of the College of Liberal Arts. All of us will benefit as our programs become even more renowned for excellence.

I am especially proud of the work being done by our heads and colleagues to strengthen graduate education throughout the College and work towards a number of common goals. Starting this fall, all graduate student stipends will be at least $15K per year, nearly all departments and schools have put forward plans that guarantee support for five years, and have committed at least 20 percent of all graduate student stipends to research and creative endeavor. These are real and meaningful changes and put us on a path to becoming even more competitive in graduate education where all of our programs will be in a better position to improve student diversity.  

These conversations will continue and our approaches will be shaped by the best of our collective wisdom, passion for our disciplines, and commitment to our students. I have no doubt: All that unites us provides our greatest strength. Our pride in this College and our commitment to excellence in all that we do must unite us. It is this strength that will empower us to move this College toward its potential as a leader in the Liberal Arts.

I wish you all the best for a restful and pleasant summer and look forward to working together in the fall and beyond.

Sincerely,

David Reingold

David A. Reingold
Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts

CLA Roadmap for 2016

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