Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Full Speed Ahead

If you've visited this site at all over the last few months you've read much about the importance of strategic planning and about the work done on this front by a select group of CASL faculty, students, and staff. It's time to kick the strategic planning process into high gear and to expand the conversation. For the next ten months, students, staff, faculty, and alumni will have opportunities to participate in the development of a CASL strategic plan that establishes long term goals, launches new initiatives, identifies priorities, maximizes resources, and enables the college to grow and change in ways consistent with its core liberal arts values.

Beginning this month, opportunities to join in conversations on topics important to CASL will be available via multiple communication channels. Are you interested in how to best invest in student success, strengthen our identity, align resources with curricular goals, more effectively organize the college, or build a stronger sense of community?

Your input is needed and valued. By collectively sharing our ideas, our hopes, and our concerns for CASL’s future, we can ensure robust discussions that reflect our diverse perspectives, spur collaboration, and prompt innovative thinking. Working together throughout 2015, we can craft a meaningful and sustainable plan to move CASL forward.

To get the ball rolling and to celebrate the college and its many accomplishments we invite you to:


From March 9th-13th, the CASL ATRIUM will be the place to share ideas and learn more about the college. I am inviting all CASL students, staff, faculty, and alumni to come together to celebrate our diversity and strength, to build community, and to create a new tradition. Among the week's events will be:

-CASL LOGO CONTEST: we want YOU to design a logo for CASL!

-POSTERS DISPLAY & PRIZES: all week there will be posters from each CASL department created by faculty and staff displayed on campus with prizes for the best design!

-SCAVENGER HUNT: How well do you know CASL? Start off the week with a scavenger hunt around campus!

-DINNER & CLOSING RECEPTION: Join the CASL community as we announce the winner of the logo contest!


We hope that you are able to join us. I look forward to seeing you at the Kick Off and to hearing from you over the next few months.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Blog

One of the great things about working in CASL are the very many incredibly dedicated and talented faculty members that I have the privilege of calling my colleagues. I recently announced an open invitation to my faculty colleagues to contribute a guest blog post highlighting their experience in CASL, strategic planning, or sharing their thoughts about the value of the humanities and liberal arts. The following represents the first of what I hope will be many such posts. Enjoy!

Is A College Education Worth its Cost Anymore? (Jorge González del Pozo, Associate Professor of Spanish)
There is no doubt that the cost of higher education is significant and it is well known that those costs will continue to rise. Increasingly, many are questioning the value of a degree and whether it is even worth the effort to try to finance one.

When layered onto the widening economic gap in the United States between haves and have nots the question is all the more prescient. As the 2014 documentary The Ivory Tower reveals, the declining accessibility of a college education renders this milestone an increasingly unattainable one for many. Moreover, this growing gulf between those who can afford college and those who cannot captures in a striking manner the gap between those who have a shot to succeed and those who do not. The documentary filmed by Andrew Rossi is worth watching, and provides much food for thought. Is the cost/investment of a college degree worth the amount of debt that the nation’s underprivileged students will need to amass to finance their educations? Does the benefit of the degree outweigh its cost?

These are not easy questions to answer nor do the many points of view offered up necessarily put us at ease. Nevertheless, these questions are vital and they are questions that inspire the faculty in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (who all share the belief that a college education is the wisest investment that anyone can make) to keep looking for solutions to both the issue of affordability as well as to how to make the value of the degrees we offer even more useful for our students. Experiential learning courses, internships, co-ops, study abroad experiences, or jobs related to specific fields of study are all educational practices that add to the value of the learning process and tend to balance the costs associated with paying for a college degree.

A college education, particularly one grounded in the humanities, arts and letters, offers students a broad outlook on the world and a wide array of disciplinary perspectives and tools to apply to any problem they encounter, thus easing their transition into the world outside of the university. That we do it at a reasonable cost is all the more noteworthy. Learning for life and being able to live one’s life fully should be the top priority for all students. University faculty represent the body that is instrumental in the facilitation of this path for students. Let´s not forget who we serve and why we are here: to share knowledge, to improve and advance lives, and for the students.



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

CASL Student Blog

Among my greatest joys as dean are the conversations that I have with CASL students. I am constantly inspired by their intelligence, their work ethic, their thoughtfulness, and the gratitude that they exhibit for the opportunities that the college and university provide to them. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of a new CASL student blog page:


I invite you to subscribe to the page and to learn more about our incredible student body. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Opportunity for CASL Students

Recently, one of my fellow deans shared an article with me from the January 5, 2015 edition of Bloomberg Businessweek. The article’s opening paragraph brightened my day:

“If you're marching into the new year ready to ace job interviews by boasting about the half-dozen startups you launched in school, reconsider your game plan. For all the career advice about the importance of entrepreneurial thinking and being a global citizen, data show that recruiters don't necessarily value cosmopolitan self-starters or even people with lots of industry credentials. What they do want: employees who can write clean e-mails, work in a team, and think analytically.”

Of course, as a denizen of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters this is something that I have long held to be true. But reading this in a leading business periodical and knowing that this was what the nation’s business leaders were also thinking is refreshing. Indeed, this line of thought runs counter to much of what we are told that business leaders value. Within the last year, for instance, North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory, proposed the elimination of state funding for university programs that do not help graduates find jobs. His targets, of course, were the humanities and liberal arts. Following his model would relegate disciplines such as history, philosophy, anthropology, art history, literature, etc. to general education. Worse yet, such a plan, if adopted, would ensure that only the nation’s privileged class would experience the rewards associated with studying the disciplines that are at the heart of what it means to be human and that only they would possess the skills (writing, critical thinking, etc.) that the nation’s business leaders believe are needed by the workforce of tomorrow.

As part of our strategic planning conversations and in response to this ongoing national debate, CASL has been busy exploring ways to position our students to step right into the world of work prepared to succeed. Beyond our ongoing emphasis on writing and critical/analytical thinking, the college is also partnering with our College of Business to provide CASL students with opportunities to build their finance, marketing, and management skills.

It is a great point of pride for me to be able to announce a new degree program open to CASL students beginning in the fall term of 2015. Starting in September, CASL students will have the opportunity to declare a second major in Business Studies. The major, which can only be taken as a second major in partnership with a CASL degree, can be completed without adding additional credit requirements and offers students a choice of four separate tracks: General Business; Economics; Communications; and Psychology. This powerful combination of liberal arts and practical business skills, I believe, will provide our students with alternate career paths and widen their employment opportunities after graduation. I look forward to the degree launch in September.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How to Think About Change

What is the most important change you would like to see happen in CASL?

“Opening a Starbucks!”

As we head into 2015 and our strategic planning conversations, I’m thinking about the kinds of ideas we come up with and what they mean – and this comment from a student is a great example.

Just by letting my own imagination roam, this sounds both like a need for more communal spaces, for more energy to get our work and learning done, and for convenient and satisfying resources to be close at hand.

I can also imagine the discussions that might ensue: from the merits of corporate versus local businesses to coffee versus tea versus chai versus… And what we might learn from each other as we share who we are and what we know.

Meanwhile, this response evokes the importance of “small wins” – finding tangible changes we can make soon and easily to help fuel our confidence in the bigger changes.

This first strategic planning survey is closed, but the conversations are just beginning. Stay tuned for news about how strategic planning is coming to a conversation near you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Giving Back

“I am an alumnus, and a current staff member. Being on the campus for over 30 years means that I grew up there. It is home to me, and I want to do all that I can to make it better for those that follow me.”

This voice captures one of the uniquely defining characteristics of a CASL education: many CASL graduates return to the Dearborn community, making it their home, and a number of us continue making a difference through careers in CASL itself. For CASL grads, giving back is not just about sending a check to their alma mater – it's a tangible investment in the people and activities that make CASL what it is. Because of this, we have an extensive network of community and industry partners, as well as faculty and staff who have been in the shoes of our students, who know intimately how to support them in their educational goals.

In our globally connected and transient world, this is a rare quality, creating an unusual capacity for community and connection. This is the CASL community.

Join the conversation. The CASL Strategic Planning survey is open through Wednesday, December 3, 2014.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tending to the Details that Matter

“Flowers/Plants. Without Susan's gardening, CASL would be a tin can with windows!”

I have been inspired by the passions and visions that you have been expressing in response to the CASL strategic planning survey – and I am inspired as well by responses like this one, offered as an answer to the question: What aspect of CASL would you most like to see preserved?

Even as we reach for new understandings of who we are and what we can do, it is also important that we tend to the details that matter, and that we recognize the individuals who make our lives better. CASL’s commitment to strategic planning is meant to incorporate comments just like this one, the appreciations and awareness that make us stronger, and that make it worth making CASL our home.

Join the conversation. The CASL Strategic Planning survey is open through Wednesday, December 3, 2014.