From Dean Scholz

January 2nd 2017

Dean’s Update: January 2017

To: L&S Administration, Chairs, Directors, Associate Chairs and Department Administrators

Dear Colleagues:

It’s the beginning of a new calendar year and the midpoint of our academic year, a natural time for reflection.  I have an enormous amount to be thankful for. 

We rank among the finest liberal arts colleges in the world. This is due to our students, faculty, and staff who, year after year, amass amazing achievements and prestigious awards. It is due also to our 200,000+ alumni, whose passion for this place burns strong and whose generosity runs deep.

As 2017 begins, we celebrate progress on key initiatives. On budgets, we have successfully implemented new accounting procedures that increase transparency and more closely align incentives with our shared values.  We continue to make progress diversifying our revenues.  Much of the campus-wide increase in summer school enrollments was due to our L&S efforts. 

We continue to identify new opportunities with revenue-generating professional programs, visiting international student programs, and capstone certificates.  We are making an excellent case to our alumni that Letters & Science is a rewarding, compelling target for their philanthropy.

We piloted a set of innovative workshops on creating an inclusive classroom that will be expanded in the coming semester.  I am cautiously optimistic that when the dust settles from this recruiting season, we will have fantastic new colleagues who will add intellectual vibrancy and enhance diversity.  And we are well on our way to establishing a Summer Research Opportunity Program in the humanities to go along with other such programs in Psychology, Astronomy, and elsewhere in the College.

I look forward to sharing news on “teaching and learning excellence” in the spring, as well as plans for rebranding the L&S Career Initiative.  Before rolling your eyes on the corporate consultant “rebranding” lingo, ask yourself how many 18-year olds are thinking about careers?  None of our students is in the same place, when it comes to thinking about their future. We need to meet them where they are.  Our colleagues in career services and the career initiative have exciting ideas to do just this.

Our new website went live, and it is a fantastic showcase for all that you do, including this Year-in-Review story that celebrates highlights from 2016.  We also created a beautiful annual review and our partnership with the Wisconsin State Journal continues to pay dividends.

As we assess where we are, in addition to recognizing progress, we must also acknowledge the challenges we face as a College. Many of these are ever-present in higher education and are not unique to Letters & Science or UW-Madison. A world-class future depends critically on gaining greater control over our revenues and making needed investments in staff and faculty compensation, graduate student support, advising, and high-demand areas. The more adeptly we handle these challenges, the stronger our future.

We are committed to meeting our challenges, upholding the values that have served the University splendidly for 168 years. We will exercise civility and listen respectfully to one another, including our critics. We will test ideas and we will deliberate, striving relentlessly to be as good as we possibly can be. When we face challenges that threaten our core values: academic freedom, campus safety, and the opportunity for all members of our community to reach their full potential, we will protect our values.

Thank you for all you do to make Letters & Science great place.. It is your intelligence, dedication, passion, and hard work that render our college an amazing place to discover, perform, study, work, and learn.

Best wishes for a joyful new year.

On, Wisconsin!

John Karl Scholz
Dean, College of Letters & Science
Nellie June Gray Professor of Economics

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