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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

A Message from Dean Karin Ruhlandt to A&S Faculty and Staff

The College has taken important steps towards a more diverse, inclusive environment.

Feb. 22, 2020, by Dean Karin Ruhlandt

Syracuse University Hall of Languages

Dear A&S colleagues,

This past week has been difficult for us in A&S, and across campus. My leadership team and I have heard from many faculty and staff, and thank you for your passion and concern for our students—our number-one priority. We welcome the news that the student suspensions have been lifted. During the week, I went with members of my advising and leadership teams to Crouse Hinds Hall, where we let students know of our ongoing support for their academic success.

Please be assured of how much we appreciate all the work you do to support the College and our students. We are aware that A&S staff members are engaged in vital interactions with students on a daily basis, and we are very grateful that you represent us with such skill and sensitivity.

Conversations are ongoing, and there is clearly much work left to be done. While there are many challenges ahead, the College has taken important steps in the past few months in several areas. These include:

  1. Faculty diversity: During last year’s faculty hiring cycle, more than 50% of all incoming faculty belong to an underrepresented group. For the current year, I anticipate that searches underway will again make an important contribution to our goal of diversifying our faculty.
  2. Inclusive teaching: Just over 50% of our faculty have attended inclusive teaching workshops to date. We are actively working to further increase this number in the year ahead, with additional offerings in inclusive teaching, syllabus design, and classroom accessibility.
  3. Diversity Committee: The A&S faculty voted to create a Diversity Committee to be listed among the standing committees in the College Bylaws. This status will ensure its place in the workings of the College for years to come. This committee will include staff, as well as faculty and students.
  4. Inclusive processes: We have taken steps to ensure that our hiring processes are as inclusive as possible, including the systematic review of hiring proposals and implicit bias training for search committees. The College Promotion and Tenure Committee also receives implicit bias training on an annual basis.
  5. Curriculum: Our college has played a leading role in the university’s effort to ensure that courses focused on social justice and social difference are offered to all Syracuse students. We are also committed to building a liberal arts curriculum that helps students develop an informed and critical response to urgent issues that surround us. The majority of courses proposed for the new three-credit social justice category came from Arts and Sciences, which is understandable since our faculty’s scholarship makes them uniquely qualified to engage students in these topics.
  6. In the year ahead, we will put forward a proposal to make experiential learning more central to A&S students’ academic programs.

I have said before that critical reflection on one’s beliefs and taking a principled stand on them is a part—and outcome of—the centuries-old tradition of a liberal arts education. My conversation with students continually reinforces my conviction about the importance of the work all of us in Arts and Sciences are doing to support students as they grapple with challenging and complex issues. It is important for us to be constantly aware that our students consider our College to be a space where vital conversations can and should take place. I hope that you will join me in reaffirming our shared commitment to providing all of our students with the opportunity to participate in a dynamic, equitable, and respectful academic community.

Sincerely,

Karin Ruhlandt