Dean's Update: September 2013

Greetings from South Hall.

The start of school is always an exciting time. This morning I am donning academic regalia as I participate in the Chancellor’s Convocation. Our undergraduate and graduate students have returned to campus and, like everyone heading back to school, will have many opportunities to learn in the coming months. All this has me thinking, as I frequently do, about what makes UW-Madison so special. There are many pieces to the answer. We are in a beautiful location, in a lovely city. Our tradition of shared governance ensures a helpful degree of deliberation and consensus in decision-making. We benefit from scholarly legacy and leadership of many over the past 150 years.

But lately I have been thinking about people. I doubt there is any large, complex organization that is outstanding – as L&S is – without great people. So, with the start of the school year, I want to give a shout-out to those in the Departments, Schools, and Centers in the College who cheerfully, capably make sure people get paid; expenses get reimbursed; people get hired; students are advised; budgets are met; grants get written; buildings are cleaned and maintained; students are taught; and the boundaries of disciplines get extended.

I’ve had the opportunity to think about this over the last month as there have been personnel changes in South Hall. We congratulate Lucy Mathiak and Diane Pladziewicz on their retirements. Diane was with us for a particularly long time – more than 40 years – almost all of it in L&S.

Replacing Diane is our own James Hovland who previously worked with short-term staffing and summer sessions. Replacing James is Amanda Lund. Amanda, an L&S alum, comes to us from the School of Social Work where she served for four years as a payroll and benefits specialist.

Tara Vasby, the main support staff person in Room 301, took a new position in the UW-Madison Division of Business Services. Replacing her as a limited term employee is Jeanne Wellman. Jeanne most recently worked at the School of Medicine and Public Health and at Madison College. She has a bachelor's and master's degree and previously worked for the State of Wisconsin Legislature and owned her own business.

You will also see a new face in the Dean's office - Alexandria Odekirk joined the Dean's office as the receptionist and office assistant. Alexandria is also an L&S alum and she graduated in December, 2012. While attending UW-Madison, Alexandria was employed in L&S Student Academic Affairs and she most recently held a LTE position as Associate Dean Gery Essenmacher's assistant.

Please welcome Amanda, Jeanne and Alexandria as you are in touch with them or see them in South Hall.

I’m excited about the coming year. I anticipate writing on “one or more issues confronting the College” next month. For now I simply want to thank all of you for what you do for the College. People and culture, I think, is the most important part of the answer about “what makes UW-Madison special.”

Let us know how we are doing at dean@ls.wisc.edu. Check this space again next month. Have a great start of the semester.

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

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