Office of the DeanJanuary 2017
Welcome back to campus for the start of a new semester and new year.
A year ago, I outlined a series of four goals intended to advance the College in our effort to emerge as a leader in innovative liberal arts education and scholarship. I am excited to report meaningful progress and mindful of the challenges that remain before us.
Let me focus on our progress toward three goals. Those are: Strengthen Undergraduate Education, Upgrade Graduate Education, and Enhance Faculty Excellence.
Strengthen Undergraduate Education
Over the past several months, great strides have been made in developing Cornerstone: An Integrated Liberal Arts Program. With leadership from Melinda Zook and support from her Faculty Fellows, the first year curriculum has been approved by the CLA Curriculum Committee and five sections will be offered in Fall 2017. These classes and a series of tracks built around our existing classes will provide Purdue students from across campus with a purposeful series of classes that complement majors outside Liberal Arts and celebrate the relevance of our disciplines. I thank all who have played an important role in developing Cornerstone.
We continue to accept proposals for the next iteration of Innovate, with $150,000 dedicated to invest in reimagining gateway courses, developing new CLA learning communities, and experiential learning programs that connect classrooms with real world opportunities and challenges.
Thanks to the creativity of our faculty, the Innovate program has resulted in the creation of a new major in Global Studies, a minor in Human Rights, and certificate programs in Medical Humanities and an emerging certificate in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. All of these programs showcase the application of liberal arts in important ways that resonate with prospective students. Together, both Cornerstone and these new areas of study will help drive undergraduate enrollments.
I am also pleased to announce the opening of the College’s career center in Beering Hall. This office will work to help our students secure internships and first jobs. Our new Internship Manager, Jennifer Perkins, started this month. Already, we are exploring partnerships that will benefit our students as they reach toward their career aspirations. Again this year, we will support students who accept unpaid and low-paid career-launching internships with our Job-Ready awards. In fact, this semester, a student supported through Job-Ready is interning in New York with The Tonight Show giving us all a reason to stay up late.
Our undergraduate recruitment capacity has been rebuilt. We welcomed three new colleagues: Jennifer Shirley, Director of Recruitment and Career Advancement, Kristy Foster, Recruitment Manager, and Brenda Ramirez, Recruitment Specialist, who are working with the University’s Office of Admissions and our department and school heads to reverse our enrollment losses.
Upgrade Graduate Education
This time last year, we were in the midst of difficult conversations about the size of our graduate programs and how to best balance our teaching needs with the importance of research opportunities in graduate education. I am pleased to share that for 2017-18 we were able to reduce the size of our first year graduate student cohort by 20% across the College. As a result, we have been able to make substantial progress in making graduate student stipends more competitive with a minimum stipend of $17,000 for Fall 2017. As a reminder, the minimum graduate stipend in the College in 2014 was $13,600.
Alongside this much-needed increase in stipends, we are continuing our support of graduate student research and creative endeavor with the PROMISE Awards. It is worth remembering that PROMISE is an acronym: Promoting Research Opportunities to Maximize Innovation and Scholarly Excellence. With the amount available doubled to $300,000 after strong demand, over $184,000 has been awarded this academic year. Most importantly, I am particularly proud of the work our department and school heads have done to achieve (and exceed) the goal that at least 20% of all graduate assistantships in their units be focused on research.
Enhance Faculty Excellence
At the heart of the College is our faculty. Research and creative endeavor define us in the world. Supporting these efforts is of paramount importance. Of the $500,000 allocated for the Aspire Research Enhancement grants, just over $164,000 was awarded during fall semester. I encourage all tenured and tenure-track faculty to use this program which supports domestic and international travel for presenting original scholarship and creative works.
I want to thank Associate Dean Wei Hong for developing a new Dean’s Faculty Fellows Program. This initiative is designed to give faculty members an opportunity to work on advancing various aspects of the College with a focus on improving the quality of our work environment. I am pleased to announce that our inaugural faculty fellows will be Professor Daniel Morris from the Department of English and Associate Professor Mangala Subramaniam from the Department of Sociology. Professor Morris will be working on developing initiatives for engaging and supporting recently retired CLA faculty, and Professor Subramaniam will be working on developing initiatives that support the professional development of mid-career faculty.
We are committed to supporting excellence in scholarship and have been exploring additional ways to ensure there is value added for faculty at Purdue to be a part of the College of Liberal Arts. This is a challenge, given the recent Faculty Right Sizing efforts. I am working closely with the department and school heads on additional ways to support our faculty, and I hope to share the results of these efforts later this spring.
So important to all of us in the College is the good work done by our clerical, service, and administrative staff. To help recognize those individuals, I made $30,000 available from central administration funds to support the Bravo Awards program, which highlights and rewards excellence and achievement. Anyone may nominate a CLA staff member for a Bravo Award. Submissions should be routed through the appropriate department head and then to the College employee relations specialist Katherine Prochno.
The uncertainty surrounding the humanities, social sciences, and arts across the United States is substantial. We are in the midst of changes to our fields and disciplines that are forcing us to make difficult decisions. In many ways, we have a comparative advantage at Purdue University in that we did not follow the path of many of our peer institutions which decided to compete on the size and scale of their programs. These institutions face much more difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, we face many of the same challenges. Working together, I am confident we can make meaningful progress on our enrollment numbers and continue to strive for excellence in all of our endeavors.
Thank you for your commitment and your efforts.
David A. Reingold
Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts