The University of South Florida strives to be a high-impact, global research university
committed to student success. The College of Arts and Sciences supports that aspiration
by graduating our students in a timely manner, by preparing them for work and for
life, and by supporting and promoting faculty research that makes a positive impact
on the world. As Dean, it is my job to help us stay focused on these strategic goals.
CAS is UNSTOPPABLE!
In March, the College of Arts and Sciences received its largest gift to date: $10 million to rename the School of Mass Communications. Thanks to CAS alumnus and USF Board of Trustee Jordan Zimmerman, we are now proud to have the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications. This gift will enable us to become a destination program for aspiring advertising, marketing and mass communications professionals.
Strategic Changes to the College
This year we made many strategic changes to the College of Arts and Sciences that are already yielding positive results. The new School of Geosciences is revising its curricula to provide a broader based education for its graduates. The School of Public Affairs is proposing its first undergraduate degree program designed around non-profit management and policy. And the Health Sciences major within SPA has been an enormous success, amassing more than 2,000 majors after only three years of existence. My goal is to create new kinds of stability in a dynamic environment through disciplined innovation, proactive community engagement and academic re-invention. I am grateful for the excellent work of all of our faculty and staff in support of these new programs and structures.
Enrollment is holding relatively steady and we are seeing an increase in both out-of-state and international students, which suggests our programs are developing a national and international reputation. Our number of full-time students has increased since 2009, which contributes to our substantial improvement in graduation rate.
I thank our faculty for their commitment to our students, the impact of which is reflected in the number of national awards our students have received this year. These awards include the Critical Language Scholarship, Udall Scholarship, Fulbright Fellowship, Frost Scholarship, Goldwater Scholarship and Rangel Fellowship.
Our Dean's Student Leadership Society continues to grow, and I’m consistently amazed by this unique group of highly talented young men and women. The purpose of this highly selective group of College of Arts and Sciences students is to promote pride in a liberal arts education and to assist in strengthening the identity of both the College of Arts and Sciences and the University of South Florida. We currently have 20 outstanding students with majors representing our three schools, and these students now serve as ambassadors for CAS. This society strives to promote a sense of community among all CAS students through student-led programs, including student organization socials, workshops designed for graduating seniors and opportunities to network with CAS alumni.
Our Tallahassee Internship Program (TIP) continues to be one of the best experiential learning opportunities offered at USF. We currently have 10 extremely bright and motivated students interning in Tallahassee for senators, representatives, lobbyists and community organizations during this legislative session. I recently had lunch in Washington, D.C. with some of our TIP graduates, and they couldn’t say enough how much that experience helped them in the next phase of their career.
High-Impact Research and Scholarship
It is evident we have hundreds of faculty engaged in high-impact, meaningful research, both locally and around the world. The media has taken notice of the great work our faculty are doing, resulting in positive press, and in some cases, additional external funding.
- Erin Kimmerle’s team continues to work on the Dozier School project that draws support from elected officials and generates many headlines around the country. Kimmerle and her team have positively identified the remains of five individuals at the Dozier School for Boys.
- Les Shaw and his team of workers spent five years working on a potential antibiotic to treat methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, which can cause many serious infections and deaths. Shaw was awarded a U.S. patent in December, and his team is preparing the compound for clinical trials.
- Ira Sukrungruang of the Department of English was awarded the Bronze Medal in General Nonfiction in the 2014 Florida Book Awards for his collection of essays, “Southside Buddhist.”
- Denis Karaiskaj Department of Physics received a $160,428 Phase I award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop the first solid state atomic clock. This work will build upon his U.S. patent.
- Jennifer Bosson and Joseph Vandello of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida were named the Researches of the Year by the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity. The society is Division 51 of the American Psychological Association and offers a number of awards every year for teachers, students and researchers educating in the area of men and masculinity.
- Tim Dixon and the Natural Hazards Network are examining climate change by studying the Helheim glacier, one of Greenland’s major outlet glaciers. An expert in volcanology, Dixon recently began studying the Nevado del Ruiz, a volcano that was responsible for about 25,000 fatalities in the mid-1980s, which has become active again.
USF’s Forensic Anthropology Lab, led by Kimmerle, is working with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the medical examiner to create a forensic science outdoor research facility, commonly known as a body farm. Cadavers would be donated to this facility so crime scene detectives and students could study the remains as they decay. It also will provide a training environment to learn how to excavate burials and process outdoor crime scenes.
We had a very successful first year of running the Sunshine State Survey, the most anticipated annual survey of Floridians that looks at a wide range of economic, social and political issues facing one of the nation’s largest, most diverse states. Under the direction of Distinguished University Professor Susan MacManus, students from MacManus’ Media and Politics class work with the well-known Nielsen Corporation to create survey questions and analyze the results. The Sunshine State Survey offered our students the unique opportunity to learn about polling and interpreting the results, as well as to network with Nielsen professionals. The survey also led significant press coverage throughout the state.
Formerly The Citizenship Initiative, the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict is a radically interdisciplinary group focuses on sociocultural and human dynamics particularly in areas of the world characterized by political instability and violent extremism. The aim of the initiative is to provide more deeply textured, granular data about these societies on a township or tribal level that can better inform decision-making of all kinds--in diplomacy, business and defense. Using the latest technologies for data collection and data visualization, the Global Initiative is dedicated to helping decision-makers develop a deeper understanding of the human dynamics behind world events. A valuable byproduct of this work has been our ability to provide USF students with the opportunity to work side by side with our researchers, equipping them with key analytical and critical thinking skills needed in their future careers.
Our efforts to engage and partner with the Tampa Bay community are impressive, and I thank everyone who works tirelessly to strengthen our College's "town and gown" connections. The College of Arts and Sciences hosted numerous events and conferences that linked us with many people in the community.
The College remains committed to bringing in leading intellectuals to Tampa Bay for the benefit of our students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. We continue to host the Frontier Forum lecture series with support of the Office of the Provost. This year's Frontier Forum was huge success, as we hosted Dr. Jane Goodall at the Sun Dome. More than 4,000 people attended this event. And better yet, our Botanical Gardens hosted Dr. Goodall for a special event for 180 local elementary school students. This year, we also welcomed immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas and acclaimed musician and neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin.
For more than 35 years, the College of Arts and Sciences has hosted dinners with some of our most outstanding faculty in the heart of downtown Tampa. Known as "Trail Blazers," these events give our alumni and donors the opportunity to learn about the latest research. This year, our speakers included Heather Sellers, Ph.D., who discussed face blindness; Derek Harvey, who talked about Middle East conflict; Jason Rohr, Ph.D., who discussed ecological issues; and Julia Irwin, Ph.D., who shared her expertise about the American Red Cross during World War I. I want to thank our faculty members for taking time out of their busy schedule to present in these events. The feedback from our guests is overwhelmingly positive, and it gives us a way to tell our story and why the work the College of Arts and Sciences matters.
After receiving feedback from the Dean's Advisory Board, it became clear that there is demand to have our faculty share their expertise with our community on a broader scale than we are reaching with Trail Blazers. As a result, we created "Road Scholars," a program in which we take our faculty "on the road" and hold free, public lectures. We kicked off this initiative by featuring Philip Motta, Ph.D. at the Dali Museum, which featured more than 150 guests from around the Tampa Bay area. We also held an event in Washington, D.C. that featured Derek Harvey, who discussed the challenges in the Middle East. More "Road Scholars" events are being planned for 2015-2016.
The College also hosted an impressive two-day conference focused on World War I. Featuring the top World War I experts from around the world, our students, faculty and community had the rare opportunity to hear from this eclectic group of intellectuals, including our own Graydon "Jack" Tunstall, Ph.D.
The Humanities Institute has had another impressive year of events that show the importance of celebrating the humanities. This year they hosted two Distinguished Scholars-in-Residents James Clifford from the University of California and Naomi Shihab Nye. They also hosted Leonard Pitts, novelist, syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner.
The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to engaging our alumni and fostering meaningful lifelong relationships. This year, we hosted several events for alumni, including a Homecoming Parade Watch Party, an open house for the School of Public Affairs and the annual Rockbreaker Social for the School of Geosciences. Moreover, these events would not be possible without a dedicated staff who work tirelessly to plan these events.
As I look to the year ahead, I pledge to continue to do all I can to position our college to be successful. I am moved by your confidence in my leadership and grateful to the Provost for recommending me for another five-year term as your Dean. A strong College of Arts and Sciences is critical to us achieving our vision of becoming a high-impact global research university. We have done so many great things together; let's see how great we can become.
Eric M. Eisenberg, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor of Communication