In a few short weeks we will ring in 2022, leaving yet another challenging year in our rear-view mirrors. First, and always, thank you for your persistence in the face of challenges brought on by the pandemic and the aftermath. As an educational institute, we have a significant role to play in making change in our world. Thank you for your dedication to teaching, supporting, and preparing our students for the future.
We have several achievements to celebrate as we close out the fall semester. Thanks to your continued efforts in the classroom, we helped more than 1,000 undergraduate students achieve their goal of obtaining a degree and more than 550 graduate students receive advanced degrees, including our own Bikash Bogati, who received his PhD in microbiology and addressed his colleagues during the graduate hooding ceremony.
Faculty in our college received numerous accolades for their research, including NSF CAREER awards, funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, grant support from the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation, and recognition for highly-cited research. First-generation undergraduate students like Alexis Moreno discovered their passions and changed career paths. Graduate students continued to engage in research and creative activities in order to discover their own research paths. We even had a chance to gather in the Humanities Plaza to welcome our first-year students to explore the breadth and depth of all we have to offer in the college.
After a few holiday celebrations with family and friends, we will return to campus for the spring semester and continue to fulfill our mission of providing a foundation for our students to become engaged, global leaders. We will look to the future as we update our strategic vision for the college and engage department faculty, staff, and students to help us discover where we want to be in the next five years.
When we return, we will have added a new department to our college – the Department of Africana Studies, which becomes the third Africana Studies department in the SEC. I hope you make plans to join us in ongoing celebrations of this long-awaited achievement.
I know it has been a tough two years since we first learned of COVID. We are exhausted. We are in mourning for all we have lost – from a regular routine to friends and loved ones. As we wind down the year, I encourage you to rest, retreat into the winter, and reflect on not only what we have lost, but what we have gained and what we still have to accomplish. Each of you has an important role in our Volunteer community and I am grateful for you. Thank you and happy holidays.
Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences