October 17, 2017
  Building and Strengthening a Community of Learners
Dear Colleagues,

During a sunny, early-October morning, I experienced one of those idyllic, timeless, campus moments, when the students are all walking to their next classes. It could have been a scene from a movie, poetically capturing the contemplative and creative space that is Arts & Sciences, where “determined achievers” can thrive. 

While the classroom is the traditional place for learning,  our students are also preparing for travel to conferences across the country and will soon begin shaping their research and internship plans for summer 2018. Through our Undergraduate Research Committee (URC), A&S spends close to $1M annually to support important student learning, beyond the classroom. 

The link between these student activities and the thriving of our faculty and staff is what we refer to in our  Concept 30  planning process as a “community of learners.” For our students to thrive, we must also be at our best. To that end, the Faculty Research Committee (FRC) is a near match to what we spend in URC. As we continue to plan for the future, maintaining opportunities for further student, faculty, and staff development will be key.

While we settle into the fall, we continue to build our community through academic searches in Art & Art History, Biology, Chemistry, and History. Attracting exceptional faculty from all backgrounds, including ethnically and racially diverse colleagues who are African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American, is  one way that A&S can work to ensure that the University of Richmond is a thriving and inclusive community.

As we increase our community, we must also look at what guidance we give for our community of learners to thrive. To that end, I have asked each academic department to craft Career Profiles, in keeping with a recommendation from our Faculty Handbook. Rather than metrics for tenure and promotion, Career Profiles should point to what each of our disciplines values; they should be dated, in acknowledgment that values change over time. These profiles will help Chairs, Program Coordinators, and mentors to work directly with colleagues on professional plans for their careers, as well as shape A&S values in teaching, research, and service. 

Finally, A&S also strives to support our community of learners through thoughtful programming. As part of an ongoing series of lectures focused on faculty development, we will welcome  Sharmila Sen  from Harvard University Press on October 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the Brown Alley Room for those who can stay after the faculty meeting. ( RSVP here ). Equally important will be CAPS director Peter LeViness’ talk on faculty and staff mental health at 1:30pm on February 15, 2018. ( RSVP here ). Please mark your calendars for these events. 
 
We are part of the finest, longest standing enterprise: the education of our youth and advancement of knowledge. While we are able, let’s pluck the autumn moment like the last apple on a tree. 

Sincerely,
 
Patrice Rankine
Dean, School of Arts & Sciences
Mark Your Calendars

Oct. 23
FRC proposal deadline for summer research fellowships and research grants

Oct. 30–Nov. 10

Nov. 10
Recommendations due for Emeritus/a status and Endowed Chairs

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Concept 30 Corner

The draft initiatives for each of the four goals are now available . Share your feedback at a town hall or online.

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Question of the Month

We have received several inquiries about the merit review process and wanted to share that information and forms are online.

Feature Stories
Ecology research in the rainforest of Belize
Parr McQueen, '19, studies the impact of the cacao agroforestry industry on microorganisms in soil.

Studying theatre for social change  
Niomi Kaiser, '18, (above left) worked with new playwrights through her internship with the Playwrights' Center.

School of Arts & Sciences | University of Richmond 
as.richmond.edu | as@richmond.edu