Reflecting on my first year as dean, I have developed a deep appreciation and respect for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the College of Liberal Arts. I also want to thank the many individuals who have shown my family and me unbelievable support and hospitality as we have transitioned to our new home. I am proud to be a member of the University of Mississippi family and remain awestruck by the many opportunities available to our students. Despite the fact we find ourselves in a challenging budget year, the College of Liberal Arts and the University of Mississippi remain very strong.
The past year has been a year of rapid growth and change within the College. For example, we have welcomed six new department chairs, a new center director, 32 new faculty members and instructors, 128 new graduate students, and our largest undergraduate class ever, with 3,982 freshmen. Further, Dr. Jeffrey Vitter began his tenure as our new Chancellor and we obtained R1 status (“Highest Research Activity”) among doctoral granting universities based on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
We are extremely proud of the faculty and staff that serve the College of Liberal Arts. Our faculty continue to provide a strong academic foundation through our general education curriculum and are responsible for approximately 60% of all of the student credit hours taught on campus. They also maintain active research programs, engage in creative scholarship, create magnificent works of art, and produce top-rate performances. Our staff sees to it that this sizable endeavor functions on a day-to-day basis and provides countless services that are vital to our mission.
Now, as throughout our history, students are taking required classes in the fine arts, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences. As they do, they are gaining an understanding of our increasingly complicated world and learning more about themselves. They are also developing essential skills to become global citizens and be well prepared for the workplace. Skills such as critical analysis, creativity, oral and written communication and an understanding of the human condition are essential. In fact, on August 30th of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that companies across the US are looking for “applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co-workers.” The many programs housed under the College of Liberal Arts prepare our students to successfully navigate our dynamic world as they become flexible and skillful lifelong learners who will be employable in any setting.
While a liberal arts education fosters marketable skills, it also cultivates inspiration and purpose. This is our goal, and I am pleased that our traditions of learning hold the key to our future. Students in the College want to improve the world, and they are developing the skills necessary to do so.
You can learn more about today’s College of Liberal Arts in this edition of The View from Ventress. I also invite you to follow us @umlibarts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Thank you for caring about and supporting the College of Liberal Arts.