Dean's Update: March 31, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

It’s a busy time of year on campus and in the College. I hope the semester is going very well for you and your colleagues.

I have been grappling with the exceptionally sad news that three L&S students passed away this semester. The reasons are varied and the stories are deeply personal. Our College grieves for the students, and their families, friends, the professors and TAs who had them in class, the advisors who guided them, fellow students, and all who knew them.

These losses are also a reminder: It is our role to maintain a safe environment and to respond appropriately when we notice students are struggling and need guidance. As faculty and staff members, we are often the first to recognize a student in distress. The following resources are available to help faculty and staff recognize and respond to students:

  • University Health Services Counseling and Consultation Services operates a 24-hour, 365 days-a-year mental health crisis intervention service available at: (608) 265-5600. UHS also offers consultation services to faculty, advisors and staff – consider inviting UHS to your department to learn more about their services: https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/mental-health/
  • UHS also provides the “At Risk Training” program to help our community recognize the signs of distress. I recently took this training and I found it very useful. Please see the L&S Administrate Gateway for information about this important topic: https://kb.wisc.edu/ls/page.php?id=38883.
  • The Division of Student Life works with faculty and staff on student concerns ranging from academic integrity or disruptive student behavior to troubled students or lack of attendance. For concerns, contact the Dean on Call service available at dean@studentlife.wisc.edu – no concern is too small and I encourage L&S faculty and staff to reach out to DSL with any questions. For more information, please also see: https://students.wisc.edu/doso/facultystaff-resources/.

Thank you to all the faculty and staff across the College who guide and mentor our students – you help create a safe environment across the College and university.

In the next couple of weeks, two big campus decisions will be settled. On April 7, the Faculty Senate will discuss the report prepared by the Working Group on Leadership Changes in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research/Dean of the Graduate School. You can read the report at the following link: Senate Revised Report. This committee is making recommendations about significant changes to the structure of campus leadership and particularly the Graduate School. Please share your opinion about the proposed changes with your faculty senator and if you are a faculty senator, please attend the meeting and vote.

We will soon also hear news of the next UW-Madison Provost. The four finalists visited campus last week and you can see their public presentations and submit feedback here: http://provost.wisc.edu/provostsearch.htm.

As I trust you have heard by now, there will be a single bachelor’s and master’s candidate commencement ceremony in Camp Randall on May 17. For the most up-to-date news and information, please see: http://commencement.wisc.edu/.

The College is being asked to recruit a large number of faculty and staff Marshalls for the Camp Randall event. We are looking for volunteer faculty and staff to participate in the May 17 ceremony. If you have not participated in graduation, it is a feel-good and fun event that honors our graduates. If you’d like to Marshall, please be in touch with Beth Hart in my office. In addition to Marshalls, department chairs and academic directors are being invited to participate in a processional into Camp Randall stadium.

The College is hosting an L&S Pre-Commencement Reception prior to graduation at the adjacent UW Fieldhouse. For information about the L&S event, please see: http://ls.wisc.edu/current-students/commencement. I know many units are discussing ways to celebrate and honor their graduates and I look forward to celebrating our students’ accomplishments in May.

A colleague who read this message described it as “flat” and “quotidian.” I apologize for the tone but please take joy, as I do, that every week we do remarkable things with our research, teaching/learning, and service to the state and world. Thank you for all you do for the College.

On, Wisconsin!

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

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