New Year, New Accolades for COLA Faculty

Welcome to Fall 2011! This is an exciting time in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Arlington. We are one of seven emerging Tier One institutions in the state, we are experiencing record growth, and we are very proud of the achievements of our faculty, students, and alumni.

I hope that your summer was relaxing and stimulating and that you are ready to re-enter our academic community. We’re happy to let you know about several new developments and achievements.

Recently, four faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts were recognized by the UT system with Regents Outstanding Teaching Awards. All four of them are faculty in the Department of English: Dr. Stacy Alaimo (Professor of English), Laura Kopchick (Senior Lecturer and coordinator of creative writing), Dr. Peggy Kulesz (Senior Lecturer and First Year English Coordinator), and Dr. Kenneth Roemer (Professor of English).  UT Arlington’s students — graduate and undergraduate, English majors or majors in other fields — are fortunate to have the opportunity to study with these dedicated, creative, and excellent faculty members.

We began the Fall 2011 semester with MavsMeet. This was an especially meaningful occasion for the College of Liberal Arts as well as UT Arlington. As always the marching band performed beautifully. I’m always impressed by how well they perform after such a short time of preparation (several weeks in record heat). The keynote speaker, Ya’Ke Smith, is one of our faculty members: a filmmaker who has garnered national and international attention for his films (including the Cannes Film Festival last spring). His address was received with a standing ovation from the students. Professor George Chave (Department of Music) had been commissioned by President James Spaniolo to compose new music to the lyrics of our Alma Mater; we sang it for the first time. The 440 Alliance (cellist alumni of the Department of Music) performed during and after the ceremonies at the reception in the University Club, to great acclaim. All in all, a salute to Liberal Arts faculty, students, and alumni!

We begin the semester also with historic news about the University of Texas at Arlington as a whole. In October, we will bid farewell to Provost Donald Bobbitt, who will become President of the University of Arkansas system. This prestigious recognition acknowledges his administrative talent and accomplishments with us, and we appreciate his dedication and leadership. We will welcome once again Provost Ronald Elsenbaumer, currently Vice-President for Research and Federal Relations, as Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Elsenbaumer has been a staunch supporter of the College of Liberal Arts and brings extensive experience leadership at UT Arlington to his position. And it’s very likely that more enrollment and achievement records will be challenged. 34,000 students? Oh, my!

We hired five tenure-stream faculty members last year: people with degrees from the best programs in the nation (Ohio State University, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, UCLA); people who have received national grant awards in support of their research in such topics as strategic health communication and new media, citizenship and the public sphere. These excellent faculty members accepted our offer because they want to work with us and they value what we are already doing. We have been invited to propose searches for new faculty and we know that the extraordinary opportunities at our campus will result in new hires in the coming year with similar capabilities and rising reputations.

Throughout the year we will continue to be in touch with you, and let you know some of the ways our faculty and our students are using their knowledge and their talents to have an in their discipline, their community, and around the world. For now, welcome to Fall 2011. I wish you a wonderful semester.

– Dr. Beth Wright, Dean of Liberal Arts

Dr. Beth Wright, Dean of Liberal Arts, speaks with new students following the MavsMeet Convocation Aug. 24. (Photo contributed by University Communications.)

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