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Dean’s Message

Sustaining Momentum

Headshot of Lee Thompson, Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University

Interim Dean Lee A. Thompson | Photo by Roger Mastroianni

If you are a faithful reader of art/sci, you open each issue expecting to find a greeting from Joy K. Ward, who began serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2020. This summer, however, Joy was named interim provost of the university, and I became the college’s interim dean. I have had the good fortune to work closely with Joy for the past three years, most recently as senior associate dean, and I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for her extraordinary leadership. In our new roles, we continue to support the college together, building on the momentum she created. 

When I first joined the dean’s office in 2019, my motivation was to give back to an institution where I have deep and enduring connections. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve—and so did my sons. As a member of the psychology faculty, I have spent my entire academic career at the university. My research focuses on child development, identifying factors that promote or hinder children’s acquisition of math and reading skills. CWRU has been an ideal setting in which to pursue this work; my colleagues and I have received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 2002. 

Teaching at Case Western Reserve has been equally rewarding. Both in my psychology courses and in first-year seminars, I have felt privileged to work with the intellectually serious, perceptive, engaged students who choose to attend this university. Finally, I have built relationships and broadened my perspective as a department chair and member of the Faculty Senate, among other service positions. I have especially enjoyed engaging with communities adjoining the university as associate director of the Provost Scholars Program, through which many of my colleagues and I have mentored young people from the East Cleveland City Schools and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. 

I cannot imagine a more auspicious time to lead the college than now. During the months ahead, for instance, Case Western Reserve will move forward with planning for two exciting initiatives: a $300 million Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building, designed to foster innovative research collaborations; and the Sara and Curt Moll Institute for Mental Health and Well-Being, a $60 million investment in research, education, clinical collaborations and community outreach through our Department of Psychological Sciences. This second project, launched with a $23.5 million commitment from triple alumna and university trustee Sara Moll and her husband, Curt, seeks to address the mental health needs of Greater Cleveland residents. I look forward to sharing updates about both initiatives in the months ahead. 

This issue celebrates other important advances as well. I am thinking especially of our cover story, which describes how the college has integrated Microsoft HoloLens, a mixed-reality platform, into research, scholarship and teaching. It is a sign of our openness to innovation that faculty members from so many disciplines—including art history, classics, astronomy, biology and communication sciences— are embracing the new technology and exploring its possibilities. The enterprising spirit of our faculty and students is a continual source of inspiration to me. On their behalf, I thank you, the alumni and friends of the college, for your support of our vital mission.

Lee A. Thompson, PhD
Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University
Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences

Page last modified: January 16, 2024