Dean's Newsletter - Fall 2013 

I hope your summer was restful and relaxing.


I want to begin by saying that whenever I think about the students and faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences I feel a deep sense of pride. Our majors take on some of the toughest challenges in the university by pursuing programs made rigorous by dedicated and sometimes heroic faculty efforts. COAS faculty are a group of professional educators whose accomplishments – past and present – are stunning when you think about the commitment you all exhibit to fantastic teaching, to cutting edge scholarship and productivity that occasionally dwarfs that of larger universities, and to truly engaged university citizenship. In your teaching, research, and service, you demonstrate the depth of your commitment to UNF, both as an institution and as a population of learners and explorers. Not a week goes by when I am not struck by how lucky I am to be here, in this college, with you all. I am gratified and humbled, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to each of you for contributing to making this college what it is.   


 New Colleagues:  As you likely know, the number of searches we were able to conduct last year was pretty modest. Nonetheless, we have five new colleagues:  Quincy Gibson in Biology (who studies dolphin), David Forde in Criminology and Criminal Justice (who will be taking over as department chair), Sarah Provost in Music (who strengthens the program as it realizes its Flagship status and pursues a new Master of Music degree program), Susie Weng in Sociology and Anthropology (who adds to the faculty who will offer our new Bachelors of Social Work program), and Jennifer Lieberman in English (who brings to English an interdisciplinary interest in literature, mathematics, and science). Please help me make them each feel welcome!


In the coming year we anticipate that we will be able to search on twenty-one of our approximately thirty open lines. Some departments, such as Psychology, have been waiting patiently for such an opportunity; they will be searching on four open lines this coming year – we think four is about the most any department, even one as large as Psychology, can handle. 


This year we plan to hold a monthly brown-bag lunch series for new faculty but open to any faculty member in the college. Each month we will take up a different topic, and occasionally guest speakers will be invited from around the university, but each meeting will consist of at least half our time together devoted to faculty questions. Soon I will put out an invitation along with a schedule of the meeting topics for the year. 


Administrative Changes: As you know, Sam Kimball joined this dean’s office, taking over from Marnie Jones responsibilities focused on curricular issues, program review, assessment, and – the largest focus lately  general education. Sam’s departure from the English Department left a chair vacancy ably filled by Brian Striar. Jorge Febles stepped back to the faculty after many years as chair of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures with Pat Geesey taking the reins. David Goff has also gone back to the faculty, and now John Parmelee is the chair of the Communication Department. Radha Pyati is taking over as Chair of Chemistry as Ken Laali goes back to the faculty. And finally, as mentioned above, David Forde was hired from the University of North Texas to take over as chair of Criminology and Criminal Justice as Mick Hallett returns to the faculty.


This year we faced turnover in our development officers, too. Margaret Meadows, our director of development, moved to the University of South Carolina.  Leigh Palmer, our former assistant director, has now moved into the director position. Development is a significant component of the college, and through the efforts of a great staff COAS was the first college to make and then to surpass its fundraising goal in the recent capital campaign. 


Retirements:  This past year we had three retirements: Dominick Martorelli from the Art and Design Department, Jurek Karylowski from the Psychology Department, and Dennis Holt from the Music Department, having previously retired earlier from the College of Education and Human Services. 


New Curricula: The new MA in International Affairs and both the BS and MSW in Social Work were approved this year, with the BSW available to students this fall. The BA in Religious Studies and BA in Art History were implemented this past year. A Master of Music proposal is moving toward conclusion, made possible by the Flagship support received.


This year we will continue with revisions to our General Education program to encompass the legislatively required core courses and to align the curriculum with the focus of our upper-division programs on critical thinking, on quantitative reasoning and analysis, and on communicating expertly (including writing well). We will also continue to emphasize Cross-Cultural Awareness, Experiential Learning, and the most important concepts of the Venture Studies initiative. The new proposed General Education program was a major effort involving the General Education Council, General Education Task Force, many conversations with COAS chairs, COAS departments, the other deans, and our new provost along with a national expert in general education, Ann Ferren, a Senior Fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.


International Exchanges: Several students took advantage of our new partnership with the Hertfordshire Polytechnic Institute this past year. At least a couple set up blogs; they seemed to be having wonderful experiences.  We are exploring other partnerships with institutions in Ireland and Spain.  


Study Abroad: Nine faculty members took students on Study Abroad programs in Ireland, France, Croatia and France, Italy, Spain, and China. Once again, students raved about their experiences, and we look forward to continuing to support Study Abroad initiatives.


Research Enhancement Plan:  We partner with ORSP and our departments to fund faculty requests for funding or course releases to allow time for faculty to prepare proposals or complete other forms of scholarship. This program is in its third year; you can see the awards that have been made in the college’s website. I encourage you to consider developing and submitting a proposal; the deadline for proposals is each August (for course releases the following spring term). 


Faculty Fellowships:  This past year Tru Leverette in English received a Fulbright award and spent a semester in Toronto. JeffriAnne Wilder from Sociology and Anthropology received a McKnight Fellowship, and this coming year Natasha Christie in Political Science and Public Administration is receiving a McKnight Fellowship. David Courtwright in History has received the Douglas Southall Freeman Professorship. Congratulations to all!


Pre-Law Lecture Series: After a highly successful series of talks the past couple of years that included Linda Greenhouse, Jeffrey Toobin, and Ken Starr, the series will continue in the coming year with a lineup of speakers that includes the novelist Scott Turow. 


Leadership Development: We began three years ago to deliberately plan for leadership development of our chairs and aspiring leaders within departments. The first year we focused on Good To Great and invited four speakers to our group of chairs. In the following year we discussed the management concept of “Blue Ocean Strategy”’ for unconventional success based on alternatives to “beating the competition” and focused on what this might mean for higher education. Our designation of multi-disciplinary “Constellations” of academic programs for our campus grew from these “Blue Ocean” discussions. This past year we discussed several videos on alternate delivery methods for coursework and in spring hosted a leadership panel with four external speakers, including President Delaney. In the coming year we will continue on this topic with a training session led by Nat Glover on leadership. Also in the coming year I will convene a group of aspiring leaders from across COAS for discussion of topics relevant to our college. 


Research in the College:  Beginning this fall we want to invite all COAS faculty to brown bag lunch meetings to hear about the research of respected scholars from among COAS and open to all faculty within COAS.


Best Wishes for 2013-14. Please know that we in the dean’s office are available and happy to meet about any concerns you have at any time. We hold “office hours” twice each month – and we’d love for you to drop by to ask questions, share concerns, and celebrate successes – but if you have any issues arise between “office hour” occasions, please don’t hesitate to ask Karla or Chellie to set up an appointment with any of the three of us. Our doors are open, and we are here to serve you as you in turn serve our students. 


 I hope the coming year will be pleasant, productive and fulfilling for you.  

Barbara Hetrick, Dean