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Office of the Dean

May 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We have reached the point of the year where the semester is almost over and summer is within reach.

I am mindful that it is natural for our focus to be on the future, looking to the exciting, occasionally daunting, work ahead of us. That is how it should be.

But I hope you will bear with me for just a moment at this inflection point as one academic year is nearly over and the next yet to begin to pause and reflect back on all that we have accomplished together. In my May 2015 message to the College, I outlined my vision to move this College forward, to write a new chapter, to apologize no more. The progress we have made toward many of those goals is noteworthy.

Please consider these advances over the past two years.

413 faculty proposals supported through Aspire to advance research and creative activity.

492 graduate student projects supported through PROMISE to enhance innovation and scholarly excellence.

$17,000 minimum graduate stipends for Fall 2017, up from about $14,000 in Fall 2015.

21% of Fall 2017 graduate assistantships have a research assignment (up from 11% in Fall 2015). 

34 Innovate proposals to enhance undergraduate education resulting in a new major in Global Studies, new minor in Human Rights, and new certificates in Medical Humanities and Environmental and Sustainability Studies.

83 Job-Ready Awards to support undergraduate students pursuing unpaid and low-paid career-launching internships.

534 new beginners accepted the offer to attend CLA for this summer and fall. This is an increase of more than 16% over Fall 2015 and the first time since 2011 the number of new beginners has topped 500.

376 students visited the Liberal Arts Career Center the week it opened in February. Two new partnerships will help students secure jobs, internships, and micro-internships.

100+ For the Honor notes recognizing and celebrating the achievements of faculty, staff, and students.

To further support faculty and graduate student research, multiple writers’ retreats and grants workshops have been offered to help build a community around research. To support external grantsmanship, our director of corporate and foundation relations adds new capability in this area.

To provide continued support for many of these advances, Innovate, Aspire, PROMISE, and Job-Ready all will continue in 2017-18.

I am pleased with the evolution of the Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program this year. From a bold idea, it has taken shape as a program with the potential to enhance the education of all Purdue students, preparing them to communicate more effectively and to become more knowledgeable about the world around them. Even more, Cornerstone embodies the centrality of the liberal arts on this campus and broadly in higher education.

Thanks to a great deal of effort, spirited debate, and commitment to writing the next chapter for the College of Liberal Arts, we have moved forward in a very tangible way over the past two years.

As we scale one mountain, it is inevitable that when we look ahead, we will see another, steeper one before us.  Today, we celebrate the advances we have made over the past two years. It is critical, though, to recognize that great challenges—great opportunities—await us.

With much effort, we did reduce the number of low-enrollment classes taught in the College this year. The task of increasing enrollments in our classes, both with our majors and students from across campus, remains. We have the opportunity to grow the percentage of all Purdue students who take classes in our disciplines and the support of the administration to make that happen. We must continue to evolve and to innovate, adding value to the academic experience of students in ways that improve their career prospects and their quality of life.

Increases in the percentage of graduate students on research assistantships is meaningful progress. Still, we must continue to address the percentage of our classes taught by teaching assistants. Developing strategies to place more of our graduate students at peer institutions will be an important topic in the coming year as well.

With the close of the semester almost upon us, now is the right moment to look back and see the progress we have made and to assess the issues we will tackle in the coming year. I wish you all a restful and pleasant summer. I look forward to the coming academic year as we continue to advance toward our goal of emerging as a leader in innovative liberal arts education and scholarship.


David Reingold

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