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Dean’s Message

Reflecting on Our Future

Spring | Summer 2019

Timothy K. Beal

Timothy K. Beal. Photo by Keli Schimelpfenig.

For the past 12 years, readers have turned to the opening page of art/sci magazine to hear from Cyrus C. Taylor, who stepped down as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in December. Cyrus never failed to convey his love for the college and his appreciation for our generous alumni and friends, our outstanding faculty and staff, and our extraordinary students.

All of us, in turn, appreciated Cyrus for his wide-ranging intellect, his wisdom and his tireless efforts to advance the teaching, research and creative endeavors that are central to our mission. Cyrus was especially committed to increasing the number of women in college leadership and enhancing opportunities for underrepresented students, as demonstrated by his support for initiatives such as the Emerging Scholars Program, the subject of a feature story in this issue. As he returns to his faculty position in the Department of Physics, we offer him our heartfelt thanks and best wishes.

Since becoming interim dean in January, I have benefited greatly from the advice and support of many people across the university, including my faculty colleagues and the college’s associate and assistant deans. I would not, indeed could not, have taken on this role without them.

While attending to immediate concerns, our community has been reflecting on the college’s future in the context of a university-wide strategic planning process. Led by Provost Ben Vinson III and christened “Think Big,” this process includes public forums, seed funding for collaborative teams of faculty, students and staff, and a “listening tour” in which Provost Vinson and I are meeting with every department in the college.

Many of our faculty and staff members have assumed key roles in this ambitious effort. For example, Kathryn Lavelle (political science), John Flores (history) and Michael Householder (associate director of SAGES) have been chosen by the President’s Council as “Thinkers,” the provost’s core advisory group for strategic planning.

In addition, Dale Dannefer (sociology), Nárcisz Fejes (English), Ina Martin (physics), Harsh Mathur (physics), Kelly McMann (political science) and Glenn Starkman (physics) are leading interdisciplinary teams that have received short-term “Seed Sprint” grants. This support has enabled them to undertake pilot projects with colleagues across the university to advance Case Western Reserve and inform the work of the Thinkers group.

Members of our faculty and staff also met in February with a panel of higher education leaders invited to campus by Provost Vinson to help us explore how we can enhance our current strengths while seizing on emerging opportunities. The insights and recommendations contained in the panel’s report are providing a valuable basis for our ongoing discussions.

One of the visitors’ observations was especially pertinent: They noted that while the college has faced some challenges of late, we as a community “know, appreciate, and support one another.” I believe that the “strong esprit de corps” that the panel recognized will be key to realizing our tremendous potential in the months and years to come.

Before stepping in as interim dean, I had been a faculty member in the college for 19 years. I must say that many things look very different from my new vantage point. But one thing is clearer than ever: The college is remarkable because our faculty, staff, students and alumni are so remarkable. And that, above all, makes this institution worthy of our most enthusiastic investments of time, talent and resources.

Timothy K. Beal
Interim Dean and
Florence Harkness Professor of Religion

Page last modified: June 26, 2019