Dean's Update: May 2015

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

Please share this message with your faculty and staff.

Dear Colleagues,

It’s hard to believe my second year as dean is drawing to a close. In less than two weeks, we will celebrate our latest group of talented graduates and send them off to the next chapters of their lives.

This is also the time of year when we recognize the tremendous students, faculty, and staff who make the College of Letters & Science great. Here’s a brief (albeit, as brief as I can be) look at some of our award winners across the humanities, social sciences and the natural and physical sciences this spring:

  • Psychology Professor Jenny Saffran was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • L&S faculty collected 10 of the 12 campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Awards
  • Professors Amy Barger (Astronomy), Jordan Ellenberg (Mathematics) and Lynn Keller (English) received Guggenheim Fellowships
  • Professors Mark Seidenberg (Psychology), Gurindar Sohi (Computer Sciences) and Monica Turner (Zoology) were selected as Vilas Research Professors
  • Phoenix Rice-Johnson, a junior majoring in political science and international studies, won a 2015 Truman Scholarship (and I had the honor of surprising her with the news!)
  • Three students – William Mulligan (Biochemistry), Sohil Shah (Chemistry, Mathematics and Economics) and Meghan Turner (Biochemistry and Mathematics) – received Goldwater Scholarships
  • Dave Black, the general manager of WSUM in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, won a campus Academic Staff Excellence Award
  • Alberta Gloria, the chair of the Chican@/Latin@ Studies Program, received the Chancellor’s Award from the Student Personnel Association

At the college level, we also honored the following individuals this week with L&S awards:

  • Diane Bollant-Peschl (academic department specialist, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies), Mathew Martin (advanced instrument maker, Chemistry), Cecilia Stodd (grants specialist, Chemistry), Daun Wheeler (human resources manager, L&S Administration) and Lori Grant (graduate program coordinator, Philosophy) will receive Classified Staff Excellence Awards
  • Ricardo Court (director of undergraduate studies, Political Science) and Jeanne Hamers (undergraduate chemistry director and chemistry major advisor, Chemistry) will receive Academic Advising Awards
  • Desiree Bates (computational chemistry leader, Chemistry), Adam Hinterthuer (university relations specialist, Center for Limnology), Oh Hoon Kwon (mathematics 13x course supervisor, Mathematics) and Russell Portier (assistant to the director, School of Social Work) will receive Academic Staff Excellence Early Career Awards
  • Brian Babler (researcher, Astronomy), Shirin Malekpour (faculty associate and Wisconsin Emerging Scholars program coordinator, Mathematics) and Debra Pierce (faculty associate, School of Journalism and Mass Communication) will receive Academic Staff Excellence Mid-Career Awards
  • Michael Cullinane (associate director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies), will receive the Judith S. Craig Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to these individuals and the many more who work to make the college an outstanding place each and every day.

As you know, we face a challenging biennial budget. We continue to carefully work on budget planning and will strive to mitigate and, ideally, avoid systematic layoffs in the college. As I outlined in a memo last month, we will meet our budget targets in the short run by implementing a faculty hiring freeze next academic year, except for positions funded by gifts. We will also freeze some staff positions around the college. All told, we anticipate having roughly 100 fewer positions in the college two years from now. We do not make these decisions gladly or lightly.

In spite of this difficult budget, I am energized by the progress we are making on several key initiatives. The Career Initiative continues to build big momentum. This spring, Associate Dean Greg Downey and an exceptional set of TAs, career professionals, and alumni taught our first career and personal development course to more 250 students. Next fall, Ogg Hall will open the first “Career Kickstart” residential community with L&S as a key partner. And many L&S faculty and staff are joining the effort to provide new or enhanced career-related programming – I’m excited to see many of their posters on display at the Teaching & Learning Symposium May 21. Last, we are building a growing network of supporters: soon we will have our first founding corporate sponsors and we continue to connect with alumni nationwide, particularly young alums, to build networks and help our current students.

A fun part of my job is meeting alumni and friends, and our supporters have generously responded to the Morgridge Match. We are doing all we can to lay the foundation for a successful public phase of the upcoming comprehensive campaign. This is one step in ensuring that the financial future of UW-Madison is even more secure. Units around the college are also launching revenue-generating programs and we are all thinking hard about how we offer curriculum and use space in the summer. All of these efforts are with an eye toward having greater control over our financial future.

The College of Letters & Science will remain a world-class institution in teaching, research and service five, ten and 30 years from now. My confidence is continually fueled by hearing about the life-changing work being done across the college. Thank you for all that you do to make L&S great.

On, Wisconsin!

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

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