The College of Arts & Sciences Blog

State of the College – 2023

We made it to Commencement! I hope you enjoy reflecting on what you achieved this academic year. For me, consolation comes from witnessing the amazing work you are all doing to support each other, your students, your loved ones, and your communities. I would like to highlight just a few College successes of this year, hoping we can collectively savor the joy in these accomplishments.

Academic Excellence

CAS faculty and staff continue to give their all to students amidst persistent mental health and other challenges. I have heard from many appreciative students and families about how you extended care and concern (cura personalis) to them. In addition, let’s celebrate these highlights:

  • Faculty published, exhibited, composed, and performed amazing works that are too numerous to mention here— many were honored at the Academic Honors Convocation, and we continue to highlight this scholarly and creative work on a regular basis in the monthly CAS newsletter. Remember that we rely on you to share your good news with us. Tell us about your and your colleagues’ successes here.
  • Faculty used over $115,000 in Career Development Funds to faculty and staff across the College. Faculty were also awarded $18,000 in funds for CAS Dean’s faculty development and special projects. Moving the application deadline from November to March to allow for a full fiscal year of spending resulted in a bumper crop of proposals. Thank you to the CAS Awards Committee for their work in reviewing two sets of submissions (the original November deadline for Fiscal Year 2023 and the new March deadline for Fiscal Year 2024).
  • Our students continued to shine with individual awards, as we saw at Academic Honors Convocation.
  • Kaaren Goeller-Bloom (Classical Civilizations, History, Native American Studies) won the CAS Outstanding Staff Award.
  • We submitted a successful Grand Challenge proposal for an Institute for Humanities, which is poised to be voted on at the July Board of Trustees meeting. This Institute will promote mission-aligned humanities scholarship, pedagogy, and community partnerships. Thank you to Interim Director of Applied Humanities Charlie Lassiter (Philosophy) for serving as the proposal’s co-convener and all the CAS faculty and staff who contributed to its success.
  • Several departments completed their program reviews and began undertaking curriculum enhancement and overhauls aligned with their vision of academic excellence.
  • New program proposals moved to Academic Council for recommendation for approval. Thank you to the faculty and staff who initiated these proposals and the CAS Curriculum Committee for your thoughtful and timely feedback.
Brook Swanson, Ph.D. (Biology), meets with students for an experiential, outdoor course.

Fundraising and Gifts

The CAS Dean’s Excellence Fund supports various initiatives across the College that our university budget cannot accommodate. This fund is the primary source of gifts to provide monies to CAS co-curricular groups like Model UN and the Gonzaga SACNAS Chapter so that students can afford to travel to conferences and competitions. I also use this fund to create startup packages to recruit faculty and staff, offer CAS Dean’s Summer Faculty Fellow stipends, and co-sponsor conferences like the Ancient Philosophy Conference and the Criminology Symposium, among other activities. I am thrilled to share the following fundraising milestones from this year:

  • We had a 6-fold increase in Zags Give Day (March 9) contributions to the Dean’s Excellence Fund from ~$5,000 in 2022 to ~$29,000 in 2023.
  • We have also grown contributions to this fund yearly (Fiscal Year 2021 = $3,575, FY 2022 = $59,307, FY 2023 = $78,345).
  • We added a second day of giving in November 2022 to recognize STEM Day and raised almost $19,000 to support STEM equipment and research.
  • We were gifted a new endowed award: the Runger/Dolliver CAS Faculty Excellence Award. This award includes a $5,000 stipend for a faculty member who exemplifies inclusive excellence in their teaching, scholarship, and service. Awardees are identified by the dean in the fall.
  • I continue to work with University Advancement on gifts to your departments and programs, including cash and endowed funds to support faculty-student research, equipment, speaker series, events, and other activities.

Much gratitude to our benefactors, including the CAS Advisory Council, University Advancement, and department colleagues who helped me build the case for benefaction in your areas.

Faculty Hiring and Retention

I am happy to report that we are welcoming 8 new tenure-track faculty in the following departments: Art, Chemistry & Biochemistry/Environmental Studies & Sciences, Integrated Media Studies, Music, Political Science, Psychology (2), and Sociology and Criminology. In addition, we will welcome several new lecturers across the College. Congratulations to all the departments for recruiting wonderful human beings as new colleagues! Recruiting and hiring is stressful as you navigate competing needs, short timelines, and a tight market. Thank you also to the search committee chairs and members, and search advocates who helped keep transparency and equity at the forefront throughout the process.

What’s on tap for the summer?

Here is what is on the dean’s office summer agenda:

Faculty retention and advancement:

  • We celebrated a successful conclusion to the first year of the CAS faculty mentoring program in April. Thank you to all who participated in the mentoring “pods” consisting of a Professor, an Associate Professor, and 3-5 Assistant Professors. We will prepare to expand this program over the summer to include all faculty in their first 6 years on the tenure track starting in Fall.
  • Two CAS Dean’s Summer Faculty Fellows will contribute to retention and advancement in the College. Stemming from IDEAS in Action work, Chip Callahan (Religious Studies) will be working to amplify equity-minded teaching practices in the College. Sarah Arpin (Psychology) will work with Associate Dean Jonathan Rossing and others to provide DEI- and Jesuit mission-related guidance in the College RPT guidelines.
  • The associate deans and a volunteer group of faculty and department chairs will collaborate to create College guidelines incorporating Faculty Handbook revisions regarding promotion and tenure, and post-tenure review.
  • Career development and support: We successfully expanded the travel-only professional development fund to a more flexible Career Development Fund that supports various activities for faculty and staff. Despite increased travel and other professional development costs, this budget line has been static. We will continue to advocate for greater support from the university. When we are asked to trim our budget, we have not touched this budget line because we know how important it is.
  • Continued emphasis on inclusion and healthy work environments: Most of you want to create healthier workplaces in the College and your departments. Several reading groups were tasked with providing recommendations to me about how we can do this. We must do this work if we truly want to live our Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic mission through our interactions with each other and our students. Even if you have not experienced oppressive or toxic interactions or environments, please know that some of your colleagues have. We should listen to them with openness, curiosity, and humility so that Gonzaga is welcoming to all.

Dean’s Survey & Vision 2024

  • Responding to Dean’s Survey: We have already instituted a few changes, including updating the dean’s office My.GU page, including more information about funding issues and budget, and in award letters. At the last Chair’s Council meeting in April, I also shared more information than I have in the past about my advocacy on behalf of departments. The dean’s office continues to welcome constructive feedback about how to best serve the College.
  • Revisiting Vision 2024: Provost Kopp has indicated that the College and Schools must align their strategic plans with the university plan. He will share his thoughts at the All College Meeting in August, setting the stage for continued work on the College’s existing plan, Vision 2024.

I am grateful to have gotten to know so many of you over the last three years. May you have a restorative and rejuvenating summer. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your dean.



1 Comment

  1. Bernadette Calafell

    Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of the College.

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