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Dean's Annual Report on the State of the College

Greetings! I want to thank each of you for your contributions to the many successes of this past academic year. There are so many exciting things happening in the College of Arts and Sciences, and despite the ongoing economic challenges facing public higher education we have continued to advance our reputation as a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success.

We kicked off the school year with the opening of the Interdisciplinary Sciences Building. At 238,500 square feet, the ISA building includes two 300-seat auditoriums, classrooms and teaching laboratories, and is the new home of our departments of Physics and Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. The seven-story building includes state-of-the art STEM facilities for the instruction of undergraduate science majors, non-science majors and graduate students. ISA serves as a unique combination of shared facilities for biological, physical and chemical diagnostics and characterization, including shared scientific instrument design and cutting-edge research laboratories.

Our faculty continue to be highly productive in their research and creative activity. Their scholarly accomplishments contributed greatly to the fact that USF now ranks 50th in the nation for research expenditures among all U.S. universities. With the guidance of our department chairs, our faculty are actively working to identify meaningful research clusters across the college, areas where interdisciplinary efforts can greatly increase the impact of what we do and put USF on the map. And it is making a difference--the word is out about the great work our faculty is doing across all of the disciplines, resulting in favorable news coverage in the Washington Times, MSNBC, National Geographic TV,, as well as many local media outlets.

Our research centers and institutes are also establishing themselves as leaders in their fields. The Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies formed a partnership with FARO Technologies, through which AIST faculty train FARO customers around the world on how to use laser scanners for scientific research and cultural preservation. This past year also saw the creation of the Citizenship Initiative, a group of USF researchers focused on advancing the study of citizenship through the development of partnerships across academia, the private sector, government and NGOs. This Initiative is one of the main ways that USF is deepening its partnership with U.S. Central Command at MacDill. In addition, the Humanities Institute has had an exciting year, enriching the USF and Tampa Bay communities with a wide variety of lectures about zombies, evolution, leadership and poetry.

Student success remains the top priority of the College. With the support of the Provost, we continue to hire additional professional advisers to track student progress and guide them toward majors where they will be successful. This year we have restructured the advising office, establishing lead advisers and the beginning of an adviser career path. We continue to develop unique degree programs to offer our students. We created a new bachelor’s degree in health sciences, which provides a much-needed option for students interested in a career in the healthcare industry. We also launched our first market-based graduate program--a master’s degree in public administration-- which will generate the needed resources to sustain a nationally competitive program. In addition, we are evaluating how we teach a number of courses to determine if either the curriculum or our pedagogical approach should be adjusted to enhance student outcomes.

As we seek out more talented students from around the world, the College has played a central role in the university’s expanding recruitment efforts. This past Fall, USF traveled to London for its first European Expo, a successful recruiting event that featured CAS faculty and students. We also established a partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and I traveled with the team and our admissions officers to Boston, Newark and Philadelphia to recruit students from the Northeast. In addition to strategic recruitment sessions, the College is expanding its involvement in USF’s Pre-College summer sessions. These are great ways for high school students to get a taste of what it is like to be a student at USF. This year, our faculty are hosting both a STEM summer program and a film studies program.

In the coming years we will see an increased emphasis on student progression, completion and placement. We have begun work with departments, the Registrar, the USF Alumni Association, our alumni and local employers to identify the best methods for tracking our progress in these areas as well as to develop targeted programs to improve our students’ performance both while enrolled at USF and after graduation.

When people visit our campus, they invariably walk away impressed. Aware of this fact, many of our faculty have hosted national and international conferences this year, as well as guest speakers. We were fortunate to bring in some outstanding speakers for the Frontier Forum, including Pulitzer Prize winning author and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee and Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner. For over thirty years, we have also hosted the Trail Blazers lecture series that affords local alumni and community leaders the opportunity to hear from our faculty about their research and scholarship. Our faculty are frequently called upon to speak at various community events, such as the “Science on Screen” events at the Tampa Theatre. Here, our professors were invited to explain the science behind a movie prior to the film’s screening. These events have been well received by the community, and the Tampa Theatre will continue to partner with us next year.

The College also hosted or sponsored numerous conferences throughout the year on topics such as violence, memory and human rights; nanotechnology and interdisciplinary perspectives on new religions. In addition, the College hosted international conferences including the 7th International Conference on Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems, and the NANOSMAT International Conference. We have recorded many of our lectures and keynote speakers for YouTube and iTunes U. We have more than 54,000 views on our YouTube channel, allowing people all over the world to see the amazing things we are doing.

Key to our continued success is our commitment to retain our productive faculty and to recruit new faculty to the College. As the economy begins to improve, our faculty are receiving offers from other universities, and we are working hard to keep them here. This year we were able to hire 13 new assistant professors, one research assistant professor, one associate professor and seven full-time instructors. We were also proud to once again provide some pay increases for faculty, bonuses for staff, and additional CAS performance bonuses at our annual staff appreciation event in December.

As I look to the year ahead, I will continue to do all that I can to position our college to be successful. I know that I have your support—our recent goal-shattering performance in the Faculty Staff Campaign is but one indication. We are a great team. I am confident that we will build on our positive momentum and get closer to our vision of becoming an outstanding research university. A strong College of Arts and Sciences is critical to us achieving this bold aspiration.

Eric M. Eisenberg, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor of Communication