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Opportunities Abound

Dean Theresa LeeSince the beginning of the year, it seems like every time we turn around we have an opportunity to engage in discourse about free speech on campus. As the spring semester moves along, I encourage you to continue in your efforts, both in and out of the classroom, to support diversity and inclusion at UT. We should support free speech while showing disapproval for hate speech in a peaceful and lawful manner. I hope that many of us can turn out for the pro-diversity/civil discourse rallies and leave our external guest to speak to an empty room.

This month, I also would like to address a couple of opportunities for our college.

If you receive the UT Advocacy emails, you probably saw the notice about a bill filed January 30, 2018, by Rep. Tilman Goins. He proposes to require first-time college students at two- or four-year colleges and universities to take no more than six credit hours in the humanities in order to fulfill general education requirements. Goins also proposes to require first-time college students to take at least three credit hours of economics for general education requirements.

My first reaction was to reach out to a legislator on the education committee who has been a friend to the college and find out how seriously we need to take this bill. I was told that the bill is unlikely to go far, but we need to be vigilant if it is picked up in the other legislative branch.

As dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee’s flagship institution, I will address the value of the humanities and liberal arts in today’s world and refute the notion that classes in the humanities are unnecessary for a good education. My goal is to write editorials for local and state newspapers, focusing on recent publications about the value of liberal arts in a wide variety of career settings. A short list of those articles is included below.

I welcome your thoughts and individual efforts to respond to this bill and to communicate the value of the education we provide here in the College of Arts and Sciences. Also, the National Humanities Alliance is hosting its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in March, which includes a March 13 visit to Capitol Hill for Humanities Advocacy Day. We will have voices from our college in attendance.

Another issue I want to address is the next round of cluster hires. The data science cluster hire, announced last fall, is on hold while further discussion occurs between UT and ORNL officials. The provost’s office, however, is seeking proposals for two other new clusters, which have no restrictions with regard to focus areas. The previous data science proposals can be resubmitted.

Proposals are due by 5 p.m. March 21, so if you have ideas for a cluster hire, please submit a proposal.

Although the colleges have not been asked to support or vet these proposals – I think it would be helpful to let your department heads and/or Associate Dean Boake know about clusters involving CAS faculty. New hires involving CAS departments will ultimately require that departments and the college find appropriate space and likely other resources. It would be helpful to us and to the cluster proposers, I would think, to know that their plans could be supported “at home.”

Thank you for your work and dedication to the college. If you have any questions or have any information you would like to share in the next edition of Dialogue, please email me.


Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences


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