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Office of the Dean

August 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back to campus as we prepare to embark upon a new school year. As we look toward that year, it is with excitement and resolve—excitement to welcome new colleagues, new students (our largest class of undergraduate beginners since 2011), and to explore new ideas and resolve to commit to the hard work of continuing to address our challenges in the College and advance our goals.

There is much news to share with numerous noteworthy faculty accomplishments. Here are several that caught my attention.

  • Professor Michele Buzon (Anthropology) won the 2017 Purdue Research and Scholarship Distinction Award for her field-defining work analyzing human skeletal remains from archaeological sites in order to address questions related to the biocultural effects of sociopolitical change in the ancient Nile Valley.  Professor Buzon will present the Research and Scholarship Distinction Distinguished Lecture on October 30th in Fowler Hall. I encourage you to attend.
  • Professor Leigh Raymond’s (Political Science) new book Reclaiming the Atmospheric Commons (MIT Press) won the 2017 Lynton Keith Caldwell Award for the best book in environmental policy from the American Political Science Association. He also received a $3.5 million award from the National Science Foundation to support his research on developing net zero emissions housing for low-income households.
  • Associate Professor Roxane Gay’s (English and Creative Writing) new books Hunger (Harper Collins) and Difficult Women (Grove Press) have received widespread praise and landed her a recent visit as a guest on the popular Daily Show. Make sure to follow her work on the op-ed page of the New York Times.
  • Assistant Professor Kathryn Cramer Brownell (History) developed and is an editor of the Washington Post’s new blog, Made By History.
  • Associate Professor Nadia Brown (Political Science and African-American Studies) has been selected as a Dean’s Fellow for the upcoming academic year and will work with the Dean’s Office on a diversity action plan for the College.
  • Professor Mangala Subramaniam (Sociology) has been named the Susan Bulkeley Butler Chair for Leadership Excellence, leading campus-wide efforts that help to advance the inclusion of women and broaden their representation in academic administration. She will complete her work as a Dean’s Fellow this fall which focuses on developing strategies for the College to help advance long-serving mid-career faculty, especially women and minorities.

There are many other terrific and exciting new faculty and student developments to share. We will continue to do so through the For the Honor series. Please make sure to send us your recent achievements so we can help spread the word and celebrate your impact as scholars, educators, and engaged citizens.

Over the summer, the Dean’s office has been hard at work to advance two programs that will transform and define our College.

The Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts certificate was approved by the CLA Faculty Senate in late April, and its first introductory courses will be taught this fall by our first two cohorts of Faculty Fellows. As it grows and evolves, Cornerstone will define how we approach general education on this campus. In doing so, it will be a significant part of what defines the Purdue undergraduate experience and the role we play. In the coming months, we will work to address questions tied to pre-requisites, the CLA Core, and our plans of study to position the College to advance Cornerstone and our place on this campus.

The conversation about three-year undergraduate degrees began at Purdue several years ago with a challenge from President Daniels. The Brian Lamb School of Communication stepped up and developed Purdue’s first three-year degree. Last year, I asked our Department Heads to develop additional three-year degrees across the College. The results were exceptional. Every academic unit participated, and we now have more than 20 majors with a map to enable students to graduate in three years. More than half of incoming beginner undergraduate students in our majors will have the ability to pursue a three-year option, and over 70 percent of all CLA undergraduate students are in majors with a three-year option. We will advance our Degree in 3 initiative broadly beginning next month.

The College remains committed to elevating our research profile. In support of our faculty and our research mission, I am pleased to announce Empowering Excellence, a Provost support fund for Liberal Arts scholarship. Over the next two years, the Office of the Provost has committed an investment of over $1.5M to promote excellence in research and creative endeavor in the College of Liberal Arts.

Funding will continue for the Aspire and PROMISE programs, which have been highly successful in supporting faculty and graduate students. Aspire will award $425,000 annually to support faculty, while PROMISE will invest $200,000 in graduate student research, $150,000 from the College with an additional $50,000 from the Provost. Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education Melissa Remis will continue to administer Aspire and PROMISE.

Empowering Excellence will fund three additional support programs as well.

Create! will provide research funding for creative endeavor for faculty in the arts. The program will invest $100,000 annually in support of the arts across the College. Associate Dean Joel Ebarb (Undergraduate Education and International Programs) and Associate Dean Melissa Remis (Research and Graduate Education) will administer Create!

Engage will provide financial support to tenure-track faculty members, especially early- and mid-career faculty, to organize 2-3 day workshops focused on advancing a piece of scholarship and/or creative activity that is in final draft form. Funds can be used to invite 3-5 leading scholars/practitioners in the field to visit campus and consult and advise on ways to strengthen and improve a work-in-progress. A total of $100,000 per year will support engaging outside participants. Each academic unit in the College will be allocated funds to support one workshop per year. The unit head will communicate the opportunity and review proposals with final approval by the Dean’s Office.

2Teach will address evolving teaching needs and build the best undergraduate classroom experience. Faculty can apply for financial support to support their efforts to expand their undergraduate teaching portfolio beyond their focused area of expertise. As undergraduate teaching duties shift back to the faculty, it is critical that more faculty in the College are equipped to provide excellent undergraduate instruction and individual faculty are given an opportunity to broaden their range of subject area domains. The program will provide $100,000 per year for two years across the college. The unit head will communicate the opportunity and review proposals with final approval by the Dean’s Office.

In addition to the Provost’s support for Empowering Excellence, the College-funded Innovate program will continue to support innovation in undergraduate education. For 2017-18, Innovate will focus on building out the Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program developing new Learning Communities and new courses in key Cornerstone theme areas. The program will invest $150,000 in new proposals. Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and International Programs Joel Ebarb will continue to administer Innovate.

I am pleased to welcome our new visiting and tenure-track faculty members this fall. I invite you to learn more about them here and to meet them at events like our CLA Percs coffee series that begins again on Tues., Sept. 12. You can learn about what’s happening in the College with our new online events calendar.

The coming year promises to be an exciting time to be a part of the arts, humanities, and social sciences on the Purdue campus. With your continued support and hard work, the College is well-positioned to make meaningful progress on a number of important initiatives that position us for success as a leader in liberal arts education and scholarship.

Wishing you a smooth transition back to campus.


David Reingold

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