To the College of Arts and Sciences Community:
On July 1, 2020, I had the honor of joining the College community as your dean. This is an institution I have long admired from afar, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make Case Western Reserve my professional home.
I would like to offer special thanks to Interim Dean Sandy Russ, whose service during a challenging period has been both instructive and inspiring to me. I know that I will benefit from her continued guidance and from the collective wisdom of the associate deans. In addition, I look forward to working closely with faculty, staff and students across the College as we pursue our essential mission.
Since January, when I accepted this position, the world has been thrown into upheaval, and I confess that it is a daunting time to assume this role. Yet I begin this journey with great hope and a strong sense of purpose. We are living in a moment when the value of scientific inquiry, humanistic understanding and artistic creativity could not be clearer, and when the task of providing our students with an outstanding education could not be more vital. Therefore, I am excited to lead a College whose interdisciplinary scope makes it an invaluable resource to the university and the global community as a whole. I pledge to support the research, creative works, and scholarly achievements of our faculty as they seek to advance knowledge and promote the greater good.
I conferred regularly with President Barbara R. Snyder and Provost Ben Vinson III prior to starting, and I was proud to hear of your extraordinary efforts to continue serving and supporting our students after the COVID-19 outbreak required the transition to remote operations in mid-March. I also recognize that you continue to devote tremendous time and energy to maintaining high-quality instruction during the pandemic, and that your sacrifice shows your genuine devotion to our students. The staff across the entire College have also shown high levels of innovation that have moved us forward while maintaining a strong collaborative spirit that has been essential for our success while working remotely. Whatever difficulties lie ahead, I have confidence in our resilience and our ability to arrive at solutions together.
I am a biologist and a climate change scientist. During my career as a faculty member and administrator, I have been committed to enhancing research and scholarship, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and increasing diversity among faculty and staff members and students alike. I also value the contributions of our alumni and friends as we work collectively to support a shared vision of impactful research and scholarship while educating the next generation of leaders and innovators. In the course of the meetings and conversations that will soon fill my calendar, I am eager to hear your thoughts about how we can move forward in all of these areas.
In these unprecedented times, we are also a College whose diversity can enable us to serve as a leading voice in understanding and grappling with the past, even as we utilize and heed its lessons for the future. I was reminded of this during our celebration of Juneteenth (link) when I listened to the powerful and moving talks by our own faculty members, Noel Voltz and Joy Bostic, whose scholarly contributions and insights have helped pave the way for building a more equitable world. From there, Provost Ben Vinson III discussed slavery and its legacy across the Americas, including the systemic racism that our nation is confronting even as I write. He encouraged us to reflect on the struggle for freedom and the contributions of Black people to our society and culture. “Out of the terror of slavery, we can and we will build anew,” he said. “We can build a better society and a better world.”
Let this be our common goal and guiding light in the College of Arts and Sciences in the months and years ahead.
Joy K. Ward