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From the desk of Interim COLS Dean Eric Yonke​

An Historic Year Ahead

This academic year promises to be historic for the College of Letters and Science. With the challenging budget cuts and university’s structural deficit, we have much to consider and much to do. With the tragic loss of former dean Chris Cirmo, we have needed time to mourn and time to celebrate his wonderful contributions. By the time 2017-2018 is in the books, our college will manage the immediate budget cuts, draft a strategic plan, and gear up a national search for a new dean.

We have two new faces in the dean’s office along with some new initiatives to announce. To introduce myself, I have been a member of the Department of History and International Studies faculty since 1990. I served the last decade as our university’s International Education Director, dedicated particularly to advancing our study abroad programs and helping create the Office of International Education. I am honored to serve as interim dean and committed to doing everything in my capacity to guide the college positively through an important stage of discernment and strategic planning.

Tobias Barske is the other new face in the dean’s office. Tobias has agreed to take on double duty this year, continuing his service as chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures and stepping in as interim Associate Dean for Curriculum and Student Affairs. Recently, Tobias successfully applied to bring the UW System Collaborative Language Program to our College. This new initiative will help us build on our current language offerings and strengthen world language instruction across the state.  

Dona Warren has not left us completely, but she has a new important assignment for the college and for the campus. Dona continues to support the dean’s office, given her years of experience as associate dean, but she is working the next two years on the Critical Thinking Initiative. The initiative will help improve critical thinking pedagogy in our General Education Program and create opportunities to bring critical thinking skills to local businesses and organizations. 

Special thanks to Dona and Tobias for their continued service to the college and best of luck in their new initiatives!

Finally, and most importantly, we welcome 10 new faculty members to the college this year. They bring the latest research, newest teaching and learning techniques, and high energy to our departments. Let me end with a special welcome to the following new colleagues: Sirin Budak (mathematics), Ashley Driver (biology), Rebecca Gathje (psychology), Alexander Iliev (computing and new media technologies), Ann Impulitti (biology), Thomas Lentz (biology), Sarah Orlofske (biology), Michael Steury (biology), David Szpunar (chemistry), and Jason Zinser (philosophy).

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