Dean’s Update: October 2017
To: L&S Administration, Chairs, Directors, Associate Chairs and Department Administrators
It is an honor and a pleasure to be dean of the College of Letters & Science at UW-Madison, but I have always said that my job would be even better in a period of increasing resources. I may get my wish. The biennial budget has been signed and is more favorable to the UW System than recent budgets. We continue to seek ways to expand resources available to L&S that can be used to address challenges compensating staff, faculty, graduate students, and to make strategic investments throughout the College. I’m knocking on wood as I type this, but I am feeling optimistic about our prospects in the coming years.
Along with some optimism about budgets, there are many exciting developments in the College. To mention just a few: Ingraham Hall now serves as an “advising hub” for new L&S students. L&S Academic Advising Services and Cross-College Advising Service are now co-located in Ingraham, and partner with nearby L&S Honors and the Center for Academic Excellence to meet advising needs. Drop-in advising appointments in Academic Advising Services have increased nearly 60 percent this fall. L&S Career Services has a new name: “SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science.” As I jokingly tell alums, based on experiences with my own children, we lose the attention of most of our students by starting a conversation about “careers,” given everything else they are navigating during their time at UW-Madison. Yet, I am confident that our students are not indifferent to the idea of success. SuccessWorks is located in the third floor of the University Bookstore on Library Mall. The space is wonderful and already buzzing with students, recruiters and alumni. The excitement is palpable. Please drop in to see the space and for a free coffee!
Despite the budget pressures last year, we hired 44 new faculty in L&S. These positions were evenly split between traditional 101-hires (state-funded) and positions that we authorized using gift and foundation funds (many thanks to the Mellon Foundation, which supports critical investments in the humanities), bridge funding from various campus partners, and 131 (revenue-generating) programs. This mix reflects the importance of expanding the ways that we finance Letters & Science and the success we have had in doing so. We have authorized searches for more positions on 101 this year than last, though fewer positions this year will be supported by other funding sources.
We are also starting a salary exercise that will be similar, in many ways, to the salary exercise last year. There are a handful of critical features of this exercise that I have communicated to department chairs, administrators, and program directors. As is customary, we will pass along funds allocated by campus to departments and programs, based on the salary pool and FTE counts. We will not have resources nor authorization from the State for a broad-based compensation exercise until next year. We anticipate that available funding this year will support modest raises for roughly 20 percent of faculty and 33 percent of University and Academic Staff, though the percentages in specific units may vary. There will also be a pool for one-time bonuses. Like last year, L&S is augmenting resources available for University and Academic Staff raises. All eligible employees should be considered for raises. In cases where staff members have not been recently reviewed, the department should consider these staff members for raises through the current salary exercise, and then work with unit supervisors to complete the performance reviews. Employees should not be penalized for the failure of supervisors to follow campus rules on performance evaluation. Lastly, every unit is expected to share their communications about this exercise with L&S Human Resources. Full details of this year’s salary exercise are available here.
We continue our efforts to improve L&S Administration and adapt to retirements of several extraordinary colleagues. We have separate ongoing searches for a pre-award specialist in L&S Research Services, faculty human resources specialist, and a new position, Chief of Operations and Staff in L&S. We have terrific candidates who will make us collectively stronger. Along with new faces in South Hall, our partners at the UW Foundation and Alumni Association (UWFAA) have hired a new leader for UWFAA’s L&S development team. Steve Kean comes to us from Boston University, where he led the Arts & Sciences development team through a successful campaign. This will be a homecoming for Steve, who raised money for L&S social science departments at an earlier stage of his career.
Diversity and inclusion continue to be a priority of L&S. On September 20, we held a plenary breakfast focused on diversity and inclusion. Vice Provost Patrick Sims provided an update on campus efforts. Nathan Phelps and Devon Wilson told chairs, directors and administrators about recent developments with Freshman Interest Groups and the Center for Academic Excellence. Trish Devine discussed an innovative, research-based effort, the UW Challenge. And Interim Deputy Dean Eric Wilcots provided an overview of outstanding efforts in our L&S departments, schools and programs to create an inclusive, productive environment where all students, staff, and faculty may reach their full potential. Twenty-three colleagues from fifteen departments around the College are participating in a series of workshops on creating an inclusive classroom.
I continue to cherish the idea of Letters & Science as the “destination college.” For this to happen, we must continue to be a world-class research and teaching powerhouse. People need to know what we are doing and who we are. To help people know what we are doing, our small and mighty communications team has started a monthly electronic newsletter, Sift & Winnow. You can now sign up for Sift & Winnow by texting to this five-digit number: 22828. In the message line, enter siftandwinnow (one word, lower case). We are also selling t-shirts that all new L&S students received this this fall! They make ideal gifts for any occasion, the price is right ($5!), and our amazing L&S design team hit it out of the park. Orders accepted until October 27, so act now!
Thank you for all you do to make the College of Letters & Science an awesome place to work, learn, and discover.