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Letter from the Dean
We can do it with a smile ...

Any review of activities this past academic year must begin with our students, run through our faculty, be facilitated by our staff, and be supported and nurtured in whatever way our administration can.  This annual report is organized with the express intent of highlighting major accomplishments and honors we celebrate as a college.  These projects, initiatives and ongoing successes keep the College-at-the-Core of this university as the seat of learning facilitation, encouraging exploration and establishing critical thinking as the ultimate learning outcome of all our degree programs.

But we must also be looking to the future, and I wish to aim the college this year toward the goal of creating an atmosphere of civility, collegiality and professionalism in all that we do.  As part of the university’s Civil Discourse Initiative, I hope we can begin to explore the place and importance that collegiality and civility have in our dealings with each other as a model for how we should interact with our students.  Indeed, as we discuss civil discourse as an outcome of being mindful of the virtues of intellectual maturity, humility and confidence, our interactions and respect for each other speak volumes to our students as we model behavior we wish them to emulate.

We can always be more mindful to put aside personal differences as we address the needs of our students, who are maturing in a world dramatically different than the one in which many of us grew up.  The goal of putting collegiality in a central position begins in the classroom and continues in conversations with our students in our hallways, online and now, increasingly, in social media.  How we speak to and of each other can dramatically affect how our students think of us and UW-Stevens Point.  True objectivity can only be modeled through a celebration of our differences, while accepting compromise and conciliation as virtues, not weaknesses.

I ask each of us to quietly reflect on ways we personally promote civility and collegiality in our departments, in our classrooms, in our committees and with the public.  At the end of the day, if we are to fulfill our mission of preparing our students for the future as productive members of society, collegiality and civility must hold a central place in our interactions with each other.  This does not mean we avoid challenging, pushing, demanding and guiding, but it does mean we create a learning environment free from misunderstanding, intolerance and outright hostility.

As we work toward this community goal, we must learn to assist each other in presenting the kind of environment for learning we claim to support.  I have managed to configure my email such that a box now pops up when I hit “send“... “Do you really wish to send this message?”  It helps me in my interpersonal interactions as well, as a kind of thought bubble that pops up.  Miscommunication and misunderstanding are at the root of many of our disputes, and I hope this year we can consciously model collegiality as professionals at this wonderful university.


Christopher P. Cirmo
Dean, College of Letters and Science
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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