FROM THE DEAN: Reflections of COLA Progress

Dean Beth Wright
Dean Beth Wright

After more than 11 years of service as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, I have informed the President and the Provost that I shall be stepping down on December 31st to attend to family matters. I shall return to faculty status in 2016 as Professor of Art History in the Department of Art & Art History. The Provost has announced that a national search for the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts will begin immediately.

During my period of service as Dean, I have been very fortunate to have been able to rely on a magnificent administrative team including Kimberly van Noort, Eric Bolsterli, Les Riding-In and (most recently) Elisabeth Cawthon. Our team of staff members — Cindy Wilder Graves, Laura Nation, James Dunning, Ami Keller, Aleta Duran, David Prestianni, Emily Shepard and (most recently) Cathleen Anderson — have dedicated their efforts to supporting the faculty, students and programs of the College and extending the College of Liberal Arts’ reputation across the campus and around the world.

There have been many landmarks and points of pride for us. They include (with the assistance of the College’s first full-time development officer) a tenfold increase in philanthropic support and the creation of a Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center (now assisting more than 270 students), the Charles McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Global Studies (supporting language instruction and language learning, study abroad, and research and scholarly presentation and creative activity), the Festival of Ideas events and Festival of Ideas Global Research Institute (supporting graduate student research travel and faculty scholarship on immigration and human health and the global condition), and (in partnership with the School of Social Work) the Center for African American Studies. We established more than 50 endowments supporting undergraduate and graduate scholarships and awards, study abroad, students pursuing Latino studies, transformational experiences for undergraduate students, research travel necessary to complete graduate student degrees, faculty research, publication costs and departmental excellence. Among them are the Beth S. and Woodring E. Wright College of Liberal Arts Endowment for Faculty Research and Creative Activity and the Beth S. and Woodring E. Wright College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Accolade Endowment, recognizing faculty members and students for student work of exceptional merit beyond ordinary class assignments.

The College of Liberal Arts has seen many advances in these 11 years. The Department of Art & Art History was granted full accreditation on its first application by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (an achievement only seen by seven percent of the schools applying) and reaccreditation this year for all of its programs, including a new terminal degree in studio art: the Master of Fine Arts. Other new degrees in our college are a new M.A. in Communication; a new cohort M.A. at the Fort Worth campus in Criminology & Criminal Justice; a B.A. in Linguistics; a B.A. in Critical Languages and Area Global Studies, with tracks in Chinese, German, and Russian; a B.A. in Spanish Translation and Interpreting; an M.M. in Music Performance; and a new track in Musical Theatre in the B.F.A. in Performance in Theatre Arts.

Our college is a living tapestry of extraordinary students, faculty, and alumni – whose achievements transform their disciplines and their community, both local and global. I think of our alumnus Dominic Bracco (who earned degrees in both Communication and Spanish), whose work as a photojournalist reporting on violence in Mexico has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times Sunday Magazine and has been supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Our undergraduate students have won awards from the UT System for their work in art and creative writing. Our faculty have won international awards for their original musical compositions and their poetry. Faculty members have won national awards for their advising of students in History and for their creation of online courses in art, criminology, and political science. Sixteen faculty members in our college have won UT System Regents Outstanding Teaching Awards; two have been inducted into the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

At UT Arlington, enlightenment, inspiration, challenging ideas, innovations, creativity are part of our daily lives, and what we do has a permanent impact for the better on our students, our profession, our community. It has been an inestimable privilege to have served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Arlington. I look forward to returning as a faculty member in 2016.

Beth Wright
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and
Professor of Art History

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