Dialogue: The E-Newsletter of the College of Arts & Sciences

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College of Arts & Sciences
Dean Lee

Greetings faculty and staff:

Happy spring!  I hope all of you had an enjoyable spring break.  I had a productive and interesting spring break, although not a restful one.

I spent the week in China with a group from UT, including the provost, visiting universities in Beijing and Nanjing.  The goal of the visit was to  enhance and expand UT's presence in China by developing and nurturing relationships that will lead to the exchange of faculty and students, and joint graduate student and research programs (depending on the institution). While there we also celebrated the third anniversary of our Confucius Institute with Southeast University, one of the top universities in China. Professor  Shih-Lung Shaw from the geography department is the director of  our  Confucius Institute (CI). He provided a report on the growing number of students at UT and other local institutions who are learning  about Chinese culture and also the Chinese language because of activities developed by our CI. An important outcome of this relationship with Southeast University are new opportunities for students and faculty from the two universities to spend time together on either campus learning and teaching across many disciplines. There are opportunities for short summer visits, semester-long or year-long programs. You will hear more about these opportunities in the near future.

In the college office we have spent much of spring term in academic planning meetings, listening to reports of successes, priorities, and needs of each of our academic units.  We have also been collecting data on the various assessment metrics related to our 2020 vision.  We assembled a college academic planning document which summarized the college-wide needs and priorities supported by numerous appendices of data.  On March 12, we met with the provost for a discussion of this document and the overall state of the college. It will be a while before the campus budget picture is defined sufficiently for the provost to provide a definitive response to the needs and requests we presented.  We will share that information when it is available.

It is always a laborious process to engage in the academic planning process each spring when that task overlays so many other important activities, including interviewing candidates and reviewing promotion and tenure documents.  I am grateful for the contributions of those who helped with the academic planning process this year beginning with the leadership and staff of our departments and schools.  I am especially grateful to those of you who served on the Academic Planning Committee, namely Derek Alderman, Jeff Becker, Chad Black, Sally Brogden, Harry Dahms, Stan Garner, Jeff Pappas, and Ken Stephenson.  Our data collection was aided considerably by Jason Smethers, the college data analyst we were able to hire last year, and members of the college cabinet, particularly Robert Hinde and Ann Robinson-Craig.

Highlights of the Academic Planning Document

Department heads and members of the budget committee have copies of the academic planning document if you are interested in full details.  Some of the highlights for the year:

  • Development efforts this past year has been very successful. More than $10 million in total commitments including $7.5 million in cash receipts. For annual giving, they raised $567,230. The success provided more professorships, fellowships, scholarships, and funding for special programmatic efforts as well as infrastructure.
  • Over the last three years, tenure/tenure track faculty FTE has recovered to that in 2008 while our non-tenured full-time lecturers have steadily increased and part-time or adjunct faculty have declined.
  • Summer school is growing and the college is offering 21 online courses this summer.
  • There is growth in the number of faculty receiving external funding.
  • Gender and racial diversity of faculty has increased with the numbers of women and African Americans on the rise.
  • Enrollments have increased for anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, English, history, math, physics, political science, psychology, and sociology and remained stable for classics, geography, philosophy, and theatre.
  • Graduation rates are up for: theatre, EPS, chemistry, math, anthropology, physics, EEB, microbiology, BCMB, sociology, and music; stable in MFLL, and religious studies; and down for political science, geography, classics, history, philosophy, art, psychology, and english

Think Summer

Although we still have a few weeks until the end of spring semester, I want to encourage you to THINK SUMMER.  The college is committed to supporting the university's priority of increasing summer school enrollment.  An effort to promote summer school enrollment in both on-campus and online courses has been launched from the provost's office and the college is strongly supporting it. Indeed we have been growing summer programming successfully for the last 2 years.  Registration for summer school began February 26 and will continue through the end of spring semester. To encourage enrollment we will be posting banners promoting THINK SUMMER on the college's websites, sending all Arts and Sciences students an eblast, placing posters and sandwich board signs, and engaging in a social media campaign across the college.  An announcement of our twenty-one online summer courses will be appearing in VOLS UPDATE, a publication for students.  Increasing summer school enrollment yields benefits for our students who can get ahead or catch up on courses they need to graduate in four years. Summer school also yields benefits to the college because a portion of any profits are returned to the department and are a source of increased operating funds.  I encourage each of you to support the THINK SUMMER campaign.

Celebration of Staff

Last year we held our inaugural Celebration of Staff, a complement to our Winter Convocation— a Celebration of Faculty.  The Celebration of Staff event is a way of recognizing our staff that are the backbone of our administrative operation and showing appreciation for their important contribution to the college and its missions. The staff who attended the May 2014 celebration gave us positive feedback and appeared to really enjoy having a chance to relax and enjoy good food, music, and fellowship.  Two members of the college staff, Teresa Volkodav and Marla Roberts, are already planning the 2015 event which will have a Caribbean theme.  I ask department heads and directors to support this event by encouraging participation.  The celebration this year will be held on Tuesday, May 19, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. on the south lawn of Ayres Hall.

Spring Commencement and Hooding Ceremonies

As the end of the semester approaches, please take note that the scheduling for hooding and graduation is quite different this year.  Graduate hooding for all colleges will occur on Thursday,  May 7, at 9:00 a.m. in Thompson Boling Arena.  The College of Arts and Sciences Commencement is scheduled later that afternoon at 1:00 p.m., also in Thompson Boling Arena.

Our Commencement speaker is one of our alumnae, Thelma B. Ferguson, a top executive with Chase Bank, J.P. Morgan Company.  She has been very successful in her career and exemplifies two important characteristics of graduates of arts and sciences—preparation for leadership and any career.

I invite you to share with me your thoughts, suggestions, questions, and concerns in an e-mail to artscidean@utk.edu.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm best regards,

Theresa M. Lee

Save the Date!

Arts and Sciences Commencement
May 7, 2015
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Thompson-Boling Arena

Graduation Speaker
Thelma Bush Ferguson ('80, '83)
Segment Head
Northeast Middle Market at JP Morgan Chase

Graduate Hooding Ceremony
May 7, 2015
9:00 a.m.
Thompson-Boling Arena

Celebration of Staff
May 19, 2015
Ayres Hall, South Lawn
3:30-5:00 p.m.


Contact Us

College of Arts & Sciences
312 Ayres Hall
1403 Circle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-1330
P: 865-974-5332
F: 865-974-4352

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