FROM THE DEAN: Excellence Abounds in COLA

Dean Beth Wright
Dean Beth Wright

This has been a whirlwind semester, and a momentous one.

On May 9, we will have our graduation ceremony in the College Park Center, recognizing more than 700 graduating students. How wonderful that their friends and family will be able to celebrate that wonderful milestone together, in an arena that holds 7,000 cheering people.

Last month the University of Texas at Arlington was officially recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution, with an enrollment of at least 25 percent Hispanic students who are full-time-equivalent undergraduates. HSIs represent 10.5 percent of non-profit colleges and universities in the U.S., but enroll 17 percent of all students in postsecondary (non-profit) schools and serve 56 percent of all Hispanic students. HSI status means that UT Arlington is able to apply for new sources of scholarship and grant support, and better serve all our students. The College of Liberal Arts is very happy to see this new avenue of support open up.

In the College of Liberal Arts, we are proud that our Hispanic students achieve success. In 2012-13, 28 percent of the degrees awarded to majors in the College of Liberal Arts were to Hispanic students. Our emphasis on multicultural competency (an essential skillset for the 21st century global economy) is evident in programs such as bilingual broadcast and Spanish interpretation and translation and in the activities coordinated by the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the Center for Mexican-American Studies..

Last month, we celebrated once again the College Liberal Arts awards for achievements by students, faculty and staff in our College “acCOLAdes.” All of the University’s five undergraduate Archer Fellows are Liberal Arts majors. Next year, they will be taking courses next year in Washington, D.C., and hold internships in federal agencies, the White House, the U.S. Department of State and non-profit organizations. And this summer, a Political Science graduate student will be furthering his research into clean air, nuclear energy, and environmental law through an Archer Center program.

Two endowed centers had a prominent role in our awards ceremony. The Charles McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Global Studies awarded grants for undergraduate and graduate students to study in Germany, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, and Turkey and for faculty to engage in research and creative activity in France, Germany, Holland, Israel, South Africa, and Switzerland. The Mustaque Ahmed Festival of Ideas Global Research Institute will provide funding during 2014-17 to a faculty fellow and to graduate fellows for research addressing some aspect of a new theme “The Human Condition: Global Communities, Healthcare, Access and Education.” The Festival of Ideas Global Research Institute Faculty Fellow for 2014-15 is Dr. Sarah Rose (Assistant Professor of History), an internationally renowned scholar who specializes in the history of public policy related to disability. Rose also received the College of Liberal Arts’ Exemplary Service Award for her service as Director of the Disability Studies minor, whose launch in Fall 2013 has elicited enthusiasm from state and federal agencies, non-profit institutions and academic institutions across the state of Texas.

A new endowment supporting faculty research scholarship and creative activity made its first awards to nine faculty members, who will engage in research and creative activity in Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Paraguay, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S. Another new endowment this year is the Dean’s Accolade, which recognizes faculty whose research expertise and teaching abilities have inspired students to create work of exceptional merit beyond the ordinary expectations for class assignments. The endowment permitted us to make awards to the students as well as the faculty members, recognizing exceptional work in Film (Ya’Ke Smith), UTA News en Español in Broadcast Communication (Julian Rodriguez), and Service Learning in Sociology (Krystal Beamon).

Our Pre-Law Center is now assisting more than 207 students from across campus to gain information about future careers in legal professions. The Texas Bar Foundation awarded us a grant to support the student service at legal aid clinics in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton Counties and their outreach to Arlington ISD students via the district’s college-bound program, AVID.

Our magnificent faculty and staff were recognized by the College and by UT Arlington with awards for their research, their creative activity, their teaching and their advising. And the UT System honored Dr. Ken Roemer (Professor of English), who has been named one of five members of the 2013 class of the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers. How happy he was to see one of his former students, Dr. Beth Brunk-Chavez (Associate Professor of English at UT El Paso) as one of the 2012 members of the academy. We are very proud of our exceptional faculty and the students whose education, research scholarship, and creative activity are being nurtured and advanced through their efforts.

Our generous supporters value what we are doing as well. We appreciate the funds which are coming to us in Dean’s Excellence (where they support undergraduate scholarships, graduate student research travel and conference presentation, faculty scholarship and presentation, visiting lecturers and many other aspects of our scholarly and creative activity) and in the establishment of and contributions to student scholarships. Our 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students thank you!

During the summer we’ll continue to teach, to engage in research, to study (at home and abroad), to enlighten the community. I know that it will be a wonderful, creative and productive time for all of us. And when we return in August, we’ll let you know some of the ways our faculty and our students have been using their knowledge and their talents to have an impact in their discipline, their community, and around the world. For now – let’s celebrate the achievements of Spring 2014. Congratulations!

Dr. Beth Wright
Dean of Liberal Arts

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