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Photo of the Purdue drum statue.

Office of the Dean

May 2022

Dear Colleagues,

We’ve reached the end of an academic year marked by unpredictability and the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a great point of pride for our College that we continue to carry out our educational and research mission.

The College teaches every student on the West Lafayette campus and approximately 18% of all campus credit hours. In August, the campus faced an unexpectedly large incoming class, creating significant pressures on our first-year classes. Our Cornerstone first year great books courses, SCLA 101 and 102, enrolled over 8,000 students this year, an effort made possible by faculty in every unit across the College. Even with this growth, I have yet to receive a call from a student who could not enroll in our classes. Our collective effort was critical for the University to meet its obligations for this record-setting class and did so during the second year of the most disruptive public health crisis in modern times. Thank you to all of the faculty, staff, and graduate students who made this happen.

With all of these various pressures, we continued to look forward.

The Department of Philosophy created a new bachelor of arts in Artificial Intelligence (AI), developed in partnership with the Department of Computer Science, which will offer a bachelor of science in AI. These two majors, alongside the College of Engineering certificate in AI, ensure that Purdue will offer a truly multidisciplinary approach to this rapidly evolving technology that continues to touch more and more aspects of daily life. This new major will begin enrolling students this Fall.

This year the College began to replenish our faculty ranks and add new lines tied to campus enrollment growth. Countless faculty across the College have spent hours, often amid uncertain circumstances, executing the 40 faculty searches announced in August. With dual career and strategic hires, 46 new faculty will join our ranks. Thank you to the search committees, faculty, and staff who worked tirelessly to advance these efforts.

With this growth comes the need to explore how the College uses the space assigned to us by the University. Over the summer, we will begin work tied to a Board of Trustees charge to find solutions for Heavilon Hall, which is slated to be decommissioned, and University Hall, which is being considered for a restoration to its former grandeur. In partnership with Administrative Operations/Space Management, we will consider how to optimize our space to provide faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students with spaces appropriate to new ways of learning and working at Purdue.

This year, three of our colleagues were promoted to full professor and another nine received tenure and were promoted to associate professor. Please join me in congratulating new full professors Jennifer Bay (English), Ann Marie Clark (Political Science), and Bradley Digler (English) and new associate professors Christopher Cayari (Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance), Tara Grillos (Political Science), Spencer Headworth (Sociology), Jennifer Hoewe (Lamb School of Communication), Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler (Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance), Terese Mailhot (English), Trenton Mize (Sociology), Hongjian Wang Route (Languages and Cultures), and Molly Scudder (Political Science).

Excellence in teaching continues to be a hallmark of our College, and our streak of recipients of the University’s Charles B. Murphy Awards continues. It is fitting that this year’s CLA recipient of the award named for a former Purdue history professor is Germaine Seeyle Oesterle Chair in History Melinda Zook.

Two faculty members were recognized for a lifetime of professional accomplishments. Distinguished Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for Aging and the Life Course Kenneth Ferraro received the Robert W. Kleemeier Award for his work. This national award is given annually to a member of the Gerontological Society of America in recognition of outstanding research in the field. Professor of Design, Art, and Performance F. Robert Sabol received the Eisner Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Art Education Association. The award recognizes an individual for professional achievements that have advanced art and art education.

Associate Professor of History Kathryn Cramer Brownell was honored with one of Purdue’s Trailblazer Awards for midcareer excellence and impact in research and scholarship. Brownell is a senior editor of Made by History, a historical section of the Washington Post that she co-founded in 2017.

Faculty published works with top presses including Michael Bergman, Professor of Philosophy, (Oxford University Press) and Spencer Headworth, Assistant Professor of Sociology, (The University of Chicago Press). Professor of Sociology Scott Feld co-authored an article in Nature. “Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali,” a documentary based the book co-authored by Randy Roberts, 150th Anniversary Professor and Distinguished Professor of History, was nominated for a 2022 NAACP Image Award. Professor of Music Harry Bulow will premier his composition in the Sofia Symphonic Summit in Bulgaria.

Our research garnered major grants among them, Professor of Sociology Fenggang Yang received a grant of $2,050,493 from the John Templeton Foundation and Professor of Sociology Brian Kelly was awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for his research. A group of Lamb School of Communication faculty are partners in the new Indiana Healthy Opportunities for People Everywhere (I-HOPE) initiative in collaboration with the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering and the Indiana Department of Health with funding for the School of nearly $775,000. 

In the coming year, our Research Academy, an initiative proposed as part of the College’s strategic planning process, will launch to offer support and mentoring to further elevate our research productivity. Thanks to academic unit heads Cherie Maestas (Political Science), Fritz Davis (History), Melissa Remis (Anthropology), and Jen William (Languages and Cultures) for their efforts to move the Research Academy forward.

Over the course of this year, we have bid farewell to a group of faculty who served for decades and contributed to the College in important ways. They are: Professors Pat Boling (Political Science), April Ginther (English), John Larson (History), Carolyn Cummings Perrucci (Sociology), Tony Silva (English), and Mark Tilton (Political Science); and Associate Professors from the Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance Russell Jones and Robert Mahorney.

Despite the challenges of another complex year, we continue to progress toward our goal of emerging as a leader in innovative liberal arts education and scholarship. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to the College. I wish you a quiet and relaxing summer.


David Reingold

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