College of Arts and Sciences Students, Staff, and Faculty,
Welcome back to campus! On behalf of the Dean’s Office, I want to extend our deep gratitude to the many people across the College who have shown tremendous dedication and commitment over the recent months, first by quickly transitioning to online instruction and then by planning for the ever-evolving fall semester.
Our academic advisors have worked tirelessly for our students, guiding them through the uncertainties and changing dynamics as the fall schedule took shape. Indeed, many people across all segments of the College have assisted in drafting the plans for Arts and Sciences to safely and effectively teach, conduct research, and provide leadership as only the College of Arts and Sciences can.
Despite the unceasing disruption, we have many new plans for the fall, and I’d like to provide some brief updates about a few.
First, we have been gathering feedback from all of you about your ideas for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the College. While the College has long had a faculty diversity committee that has contributed significantly, not all voices have been represented.
Thus, I am expanding the committee to include staff and students selected from among those who took the initiative to write to me this summer offering many thoughtful, and occasionally daring, suggestions. The College’s full support and resources are with this committee as they look to radically transform our efforts with recruiting, retention, and overall campus life and support.
More immediately, we welcomed two new post-doctoral research associates to the College this fall, positions created to attract and support members of underrepresented communities within the College. Additional dean’s post-doc positions will be offered. In the current year, two will be offered in social sciences, followed by two next year in natural sciences and mathematics.
Inside the Dean’s Office, we are expanding our focus on graduate education and have reorganized some senior positions to better fit our strategic vision. While no change is occurring with divisional representation, the associate deans will now have management portfolios.
Dr. Roger Sidje, who for many years has been our Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs, will be taking on a new role as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. For a short time, Dr. Sidje will hold both portfolios. Later this year we will split the roles and search for a new Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs.
Dr. Ray White will assume the research portfolio for the College to include space planning.
Dr. Pamela Young is now the Director of Community Outreach and Economic Development, reflecting better alignment with University goals and our desire to promote the College throughout Alabama. More changes will be announced as they are finalized during the fall semester.
I am looking forward to completing the by-laws process this fall and beginning a strategic planning process in the spring. Strategic planning is extremely important as we craft a vision that is compelling, inspiring, and a reflection of our values.
As my first year as your dean has come to an end, I have spent considerable time reflecting on the challenges we have encountered together and the successes we have shared. None of us could have predicted what the year had in store nor planned for the incredible disruptions and persistent uncertainties, but our strength as a College shone through.
We pulled together as students, staff, and faculty, to not just overcome the challenges but to rise above them together. It is through this unity that we find inspiration to forge ahead knowing we can and will succeed together. I am proud to be part of The University of Alabama and the College of Arts and Sciences, and I hope you are, too.
Joseph P. Messina
Dean and Professor