October 17, 2018
Dear CAS Faculty and Staff,
It’s been a very busy time for everyone as we mark the midpoint of week 4 on the academic calendar. Last week, in particular, was a busy one. We saw many alumni and friends on campus as we hosted the annual UO Board Summit. Some of our faculty – including 12 individuals from the College of Arts and Sciences – were honored at the Fund for Faculty Excellence reception for their innovation in teaching and research. We hosted a number of prospective students looking at the UO for their future. And we broke ground on the new Black Cultural Center and celebrated the inaugural Black Student Convocation, an event that provided an opportunity for black students to gather, bond, and reinforce their academic goals and pursuits.
As we enter into the second half of the fall term, I want to provide an update on my prior message about launching an effort to examine the future of CAS, the university’s largest college.
First and foremost, the college’s success – as the place that represents dozens of departments, as the place where our faculty deliver the bulk of courses that fulfill core educations requirements for students, and as the place where more than 60 percent of classes are taught – is among our highest priorities.
With Andrew Marcus stepping down as dean, I have full confidence in interim dean Bruce Blonigen and senior divisional dean Karen Ford. They, along with divisional deans Hal Sadofsky and Philip Scher and associate dean Carol Stabile, have my full support. They understand the tasks at hand – making sure CAS stays on stable footing during this leadership transition, looking for ways to improve our scholarship and research, and ensuring that all CAS divisions thrive.
As is the case in many situations, whenever there is a change in leadership, it marks an opportunity to examine how things are done and whether there are changes that could benefit the organization. As President Schill and I work to elevate the university’s impact and reputation, it’s important to note that we cannot just do things as we always have. In order to improve, we must always consider the possibilities.
Analyzing the structure of CAS is both timely and necessary, but it must be done with care and deliberation. President Mike Schill and I have prepared an outline for the task force that will conduct this analysis and encourage you to read it here. This task force will be chaired by Karen Ford and will work diligently throughout this academic year. Membership will be diverse, and the group will work toward providing me and President Schill an analysis next spring. More information about the group’s make-up and how to suggest recommendations (including self-nominations) is also in the outline.
I want to reiterate that there is no pre-determined outcome expected from this analysis. Despite rumors that have been brought to my attention, this has nothing to do with “branding” CAS, nor is it rooted in a desire to separate and disinvest in particular disciplines or divisions. It also has nothing to do with centralization of services or fundraising, nor is it an idea from the administration about making changes simply for the sake of change.
This is a big topic, but an appropriate one. I appreciate Karen stepping forward to lead this endeavor, and I am eager for the conversation to unfold and welcome diverse perspectives and ideas on this analysis.