What a time to be starting as Dean!
On the one hand, there is feverish activity to get ready for the new academic year, to make sure we are prepared to face any situation that might occur, able to continue online entirely or begin working face to face while still taking precautions.
On the other hand, it feels as though time is standing still while we collectively hold our breath and wait for this moment to pass.
When I accepted this position back in February, only those who were really paying attention had an inkling of what might be coming. I imagined the things I would do and say to get started on the right foot and with plenty of momentum. Almost all of that is on hold now, or severely compromised. Almost all, but not everything.
We must also keep our eyes focused on the world after COVID-19.
The College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, as I have been discovering over the last few weeks, is teeming with energy, ideas and innovation. The task that lies before us is to pool our resources and make all efforts underway count, to add up to even more than the mere sum of our parts.
One initiative I have already launched is for the College leadership to think about ways we might be able to bring our interdisciplinary programs – three undergraduate and two graduate degrees – under one roof. Creating a home for interdisciplinarity within the College would ideally serve the University community as a whole. In the months to come, you will hear more about this initiative, I hope.
Another area we will focus on this coming year is providing more support for the College’s research initiatives.
Clemson University recently became ranked as an R1: Doctoral University, signifying “very high research activity.” This is the highest research ranking offered by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Our College must do everything it can to contribute to and help maintain that coveted R1 ranking for Clemson University.
On a related note, our Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, James Spencer, has recently accepted a post at Louisiana State University – the “wrong” Tigers, for sure! While we will miss him and all that he has contributed to our College, I am pleased to announce that Professor Winifred Elysse Newman has agreed to step in on short notice to be our Acting Associate Dean of Research. Newman holds the Homer Curtis Mickel and Leona Carter Mickel Endowed Chair in the School of Architecture and is Director of the Clemson University Institute for Intelligent Materials, Systems and Environments (CU-iMSE).
This transition in leadership opens up the opportunity to reexamine our Associate Deans’ roles and our College’s overall research profile. We must find ways to increase applications for grants and fellowships, and foster a climate of research excellence. I promise to share more about this effort, too!
So, I will sign off here by wishing a great year to one and all. We will get through this and, I am sure, emerge stronger and hopefully wiser on the other side.
Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
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