Dean’s Update: May 20, 2016

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

Dear Colleagues,

A blustery commencement has come and gone, marking the end of the academic year. In addition to giving us the opportunity to jump around (and warm up!), the day put the wind back in my sails. The joy of our graduates, and the love and pride of parents, friends, and family, reminded me that we play a profoundly important role for our students. We do it very well. Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students.

We had a challenging academic year, including the freeze on state-funded hiring in L&S, the re-working of tenure provisions, and retentions. For colleagues leaving UW-Madison, we wish you the very best and thank you for all you have done for Letters & Science and the university. I am very pleased to report that roughly three-quarters of those who had great opportunities to go elsewhere decided to stay. This is one of the best indicators I can point to that the future of UW-Madison is strong.

Among the most distressing events this semester were incidents of hate and bias on campus. Let me say this as clearly as I can: hate, bias, intolerance, and disrespect are not our values. We are fiercely committed to an institution where every student has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, and where the campus environment and the knowledge discovered here become guiding lights for Wisconsin, the nation and the world. Living up to our values is our responsibility both as individuals and as the L&S community. We celebrate diversity, not just for the sake of diversity, but because it makes all of us better.

Our students continue to accomplish remarkable things. Deshawn McKinney was awarded a Truman Scholarship. More than 150 students (and two faculty members) joined Phi Beta Kappa. Four L&S professors were awarded Romnes Faculty Fellowships. Seven L&S faculty received Kellett Awards. On May 12, I had the great pleasure of giving three sets of awards that recognized and celebrated the excellence of university staff, academic staff and our faculty and staff advisors. Four L&S colleagues received campus-wide Academic Staff Excellence Awards. Please click the links to learn more about these accomplishments.

On Mother’s Day, we partnered with the Wisconsin State Journal for the second year in a row on a supplement featuring 21 of our Letters & Science colleagues, writing short essays in the first person about their work. You can see what they wrote here: go.madison.com/discovery. We are working to get print and electronic copies in the hands of key people in the state and alums around the country. Please let me know what you think. If you like it, please help us get the word out via social media and word of mouth.

Like many of you, I have great ambitions for the summer. We will accelerate progress on the L&S Career Initiative. We will roll out a new budget model for the College. We will report on what appears to be a very successful summer school pilot, and build on the momentum to be even more successful next summer. We will work to be a more inclusive College. Advisors are already gearing up to welcome our new undergraduates at SOAR. We will do at least some hiring next year for units that have met their budget cuts and demonstrate a crucial hiring need. I hope you have a wonderful, productive summer. I look forward to celebrating our successes in the coming academic year. Again, thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,

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