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Office of the Dean

May 2021

Dear Colleagues,

As this challenging, memorable, and at the end of the day – successful – academic year has come to a close, two words come to mind.

Thank you.

Amid so many challenges, the College of Liberal Arts persevered because of your efforts.

Together, this year, we delivered 213,511 credit hours to undergraduate and graduate students in our college and across the University. Nearly 70% of our Fall 2020 and over 53% of our Spring 2021 classes were face-to-face or hybrid/hi-flex. For Fall 2021, 78.5% of our courses are scheduled as face-to-face or hybrid/hi-flex as we begin a return to our more residentially-oriented instructional delivery mode.

This year, we granted 845 undergraduate degrees or credentials, thanks to our faculty and also to our academic advisors, who kept students on track and focused. More than focused, many of our students excelled – 54 were elected to Phi Beta Kappa, three CLA students are among the six honored with the Charles O. McGaughey Leadership Awards, and another three are recipients of the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. All of these are among the top student honors at Purdue.

This year, our graduate programs granted 59 master’s degrees, 180 online master’s degrees, 24 master’s of fine arts, and 64 doctoral degrees. Among our doctoral placements since May 2020 are Betsy Wirtz (Anthropology), qualitative analyst, Department of Veterans Affairs; Yunping Tong (Sociology), research analyst, Pew Research Center; Marissa Rurka (Sociology), senior analyst, Center for Health and Research Transformation, University of Michigan; Bi Zhao (Political Science), assistant professor – tenure track, Whitworth University; Madi Whitman (Anthropology), postdoctoral research scholar and assistant director of co-teaching, Columbia University; and Valentina Concu (Languages and Cultures), assistant professor – tenure track, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia.

This year, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John Teagle Foundation launched an initiative to replicate our Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts Program as a national model for general education, recognizing the fine work of director Melinda Zook (History) and all of the faculty across the College who have helped build and scale the program. The effort garnered significant mainstream and higher education press including the Wall Street Journal and Inside Higher Ed.

This year, five of our colleagues were promoted to full professor, and another six received tenure and were promoted to associate professor. Please join me in congratulating new full professors Elena Coda (Languages and Cultures), Harry Denny (English), Elaine Francis (English), Cheryl Zhenyu Qian (Design, Art, and Performance), and Ann Shanahan (Design, Art, and Performance) and new associate professors Kevah Akbar (English), Taylor Davis (Philosophy), Andrew Flachs (Anthropology), Kyle Haynes (Political Science), T. Cole Jones (History), and Ashley Purpura (Interdisciplinary Studies).

This year, scholarship continued despite many difficulties associated with aspects of our research programs. Among our achievements were grants from the National Institute on Aging—Kenneth Ferraro (Sociology), Jill Suitor (Sociology) and the National Science Foundation—Tara Grillos (Political Science), Laura Zanotti (Anthropology), Stacey Lindshield (Anthropology), and Linda Renzulli (Sociology).

This year, numerous books were published by top presses, including Oxford University Press (Molly Scudder, Political Science) and Cambridge University Press (Kristina Bross, English). Captives of Liberty by T. Cole Jones (History) received the Society of the Cincinnati Prize from the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati. In addition, Kevah Akbar (English) was named poetry editor for The Nation and composers Harry Bulow (Design, Art, and Performance) and Allen McCullough (Design, Art, and Performance) had recordings published. This is only a sampling of the fine work accomplished by our faculty.

This year, our tradition of excellence in teaching continued to attract attention both on campus and beyond. 150th Anniversary Distinguished Professor of History Randy Roberts is a finalist for Baylor University’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching while Lindsay Hamm (Sociology) and Jen Hall (Communication) were recognized with Purdue’s 2021 Excellence in Instruction Award for Lecturers.

This year, we proposed and the Board of Trustees and Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved a bachelor’s degree in Music, something that has not existed during the first 150+ years of Purdue University’s history. We anticipate great interest from students across campus in this new major.

This year, the CLA recruitment team delivered with a Fall 2020 class that was up 107 students from Fall 2015, the fifth consecutive year of an increase in our census enrollment. Looking forward to Fall 2021, the number of students who have accepted their offer to attend is up another 10%. All this comes in a recruitment cycle that demanded the team reimagine their outreach and engagement of prospective students to accommodate campus protocols.

This year, across the College, our faculty and staff have been steadfast in delivering our educational and research missions and finding ways from every corner of the enterprise to accomplish the work in front of us in safe and productive ways.

This year, we bid farewell to a group of faculty whose decades of service played a fundamental role in shaping the College we are today. They are: Professors James Farr (History), Anne Fliotsos (Design, Art, and Performance), Patty Hart (Languages and Cultures), Sally Hastings (History), Christian Knoeller (English), Ben Lawton (Languages and Cultures), Bill Mullen (Interdisciplinary Studies), Carolyn Cummings Perrucci (Sociology), Bert Useem (Sociology), and Irwin Weiser (English); Associate Professor Nancy Gabin (History); and Lecturers from the School of Languages and Cultures: Daleth Martins De Abreu Assad, Raymond Olson, and Stuart Robertson. Please join me in congratulating our colleagues and wishing them well.

This year, we accomplished much on many fronts, delivering admirably on our goal of emerging as a leader in innovative liberal arts education and scholarship. I am grateful for your hard work and commitment to the College and wish you a peaceful and relaxing summer.


David Reingold

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