Opening of School Letter, 8/29/17

Opening of School Letter, 8/29/17

Dear Colleagues,

As you can imagine, it has been a very eventful summer and we are excited to begin the new academic year. It is also a scary and difficult moment as epic floods rage in Texas and Louisiana, North Korea has just fired a missile over Japan, the U.S. is riven by deep political divides, and the rhetoric of hatred and intolerance is intensifying. In light of this, we are more and more convinced about the importance our educational mission.

Here at Drew, this is a time of great forward momentum for the University, and the academic units in particular. We write to share a sample of these exciting developments, give a few brief announcements now, and remind you about the upcoming Provost’s Office forum scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, August 30th at 4:15 in Baldwin Gym where we will be able to share many more details of our plans for the upcoming year.

The size of our student body is increasing. We will have final numbers in a couple of weeks, but as of now there are 374 new first-time students and 51 transfer students in CLA, representing the third consecutive year of growth in the student body. An additional 33 students who completed the INTO pathway program transitioned to matriculated status, and INTO just welcomed 54 students to the pathway program (14 of whom progressed from Academic English to the Pathway). An additional 17 new students started in the Academic English program. In the Theological School, we welcome 106 entering students across six degree programs. This is the fifth straight semester of enrollment growth in the Theological School, reversing a multi-year trend, and the class continues to represent the various diversities that are a historic strength of our Theological School.

Enrollment in the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies has remained about the same as it was last year, with some variation across the programs. Overall, Graduate Admissions (which includes Caspersen and the Theological School) enrolled 213 new students this year, compared to 203 last year, representing a 4.9 percent increase. Correspondingly, we expect net tuition revenue per student to increase as we made an effort to lower the discount rate for students in all graduate programs, except for those pursuing PhD’s.

We both extend a tremendous thank you to Bob Massa, Jim Skiff, John Witherington, Sharon Sundue and their teams for the incredible work they did to bring these students to us, and Sara Waldron, Frank Merckx and Michelle Brisson and their staffs for the work they did to welcome our new students to campus. For graduate orientations, particular thanks are due to Melanie Johnson-Debaufre, Tanya Linn Bennett, Joanne Montross, Jennifer East, Beth Babcock and a score of current student ambassadors who made graduate orientations seamless and productive.

We also welcome a host of new Drew full-time faculty members to our ranks, including:

– Christopher Casement (Mathematics and Computer Science)
– Alex de Voogt (Business with an affiliation in Psychology)
– Rodney Gilbert (Theatre and Dance)
– Paul Kadetz (Public Health, Anthropology, and Medical Humanities)
– Angie Kirby-Calder (History)
– Simone Kolysh (Sociology)
– Yi Lu (Mathematics and Computer Science)
– Lisa Lynch (Media and Communications)
– Rebecca Mercuri (Mathematics and Computer Science)
– Jonathan Porras (Chemistry)
– Carolyn Rooney (Psychology)
– Anthony Russo (Biology)
– Daniel Shin (Theological School)
– Kristen Turner (Teacher Education program)
– Nancy Vitalone-Raccaro (Teacher Education program)
– Chenyang Xu (Environmental Studies and Economics)

In addition to this impressive list of new faculty, we have had a very propitious grant application season. With a number of major grant applications still pending final decisions, the following have already been awarded:

  • A $410,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a “Digital Drew” initiative that further strengthens inclusive, integrative, project-based digital pedagogies across the institution. We are pleased to announce that Professors Wendy Kolmar and John Muccigrosso will serve as co-Principal Investigators on this grant. Our goal is to use the pedagogical focus of this grant to help us work toward the launch of a Center for Teaching and Learning at Drew.
  • Academic Services has received a gift of $100,000 over the next four years for staff and faculty development to support our tutoring and academic support services.
  • The Theological School received a $50,000 Association for Theological School Innovation Grant to build a network of teaching and learning partners for theological education in context and a $15,000 Association for Theological School Educational Models and Practices Grant that focuses on faculty development around capacity-based learning and developing students’ adaptive expertise as a learning outcome.
  • The Jesse Ball duPont Fund Curriculum Transformation grant ($70,000) funds the second phase of the Theological School’s curriculum transformation.
  • A $50,000 Wabash Center grant was awarded to the Theological School to prepare rooted, innovative, and courageous teachers. The project will fund professional development work with our PhD students that includes developing teacher portfolios and strengthening critical pedagogy in teaching and learning. This work will also benefit our PhD students in Caspersen.

Many more details about the implementation of the new academic structure and our plans for the year will be presented at the Provost’s Office Forum on Wednesday. We hope that you will be able to join us for this important conversation, but in the meantime, and as you have seen from previous announcements, we are pleased to welcome the new Associate Deans in Arts and Sciences. Dr. Maria Masucci, Professor of Anthropology, will be serving as the Associate Dean of Faculty for Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Juliette Lantz and Dr. Ryan Hinrichs, Professors of Chemistry, will be sharing the position of Associate Dean of Curriculum for Arts and Sciences. We are very much looking forward to working with these talented individuals over the next several years. Maria and Ryan and Julie will be located in the current Associate Deans’ offices in Brothers College, and Trish Turvey, Patrice Vogt and Ellen Whiteman will continue to serve as administrative support for that office.

The Provost’s Office itself is located in Mead Hall. Debra’s office is Mead 223, and Dr. Jessica Lakin, Associate Provost for Academic Administration, is located in Mead 228. Debra will also maintain a Dean’s Office in Brothers College 108. Javier is retaining his office in Seminary Hall 102, along with Dr. Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, Associate Dean of the Theological School and Graduate Curriculum. Dr. Judith Redling, who has been promoted to Associate Provost and Director of the Center for Academic Excellence in recognition of the increased responsibility associated with providing academic support for the entire student body, is retaining her office in Brothers College 114. Joanne Montross, will be providing administrative support to the Provost’s Office, and her office is Mead 223; she will also continue to support the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies from this location. We invite you all to stop by to see our new office space.

Other changes have already occurred as a result of the academic units becoming connected through the Provost’s Office. For example, the Center for Global Education, directed by Stacy Fischer, is now a University-wide office for global education. We expect that coordinating all of our off-campus and global programs through a single office will generate greater clarity and effectiveness as well as offer opportunities for synergistic program development across the three schools. The Center remains in Embury Hall. The Center for Academic Excellence is retaining its office in the Rose Memorial Library, but they are actively bringing on additional support for graduate students. More details about these and other changes will be discussed at the forum later this week.

This will be a year devoted to strategic planning and curricular development. The Theological School is moving forward with its administrative restructuring, and the second phase of its major curriculum transformation will be advanced in order to launch new degrees and programs in Fall 2018. In Caspersen, we are welcoming program directors, new and returning, into roles where they will develop curricular opportunities that are attractive to both new graduate students and students who are already a part of our community. In CLA, we will need to determine how to implement the recommendations from Art & Science group, which are based on the research that they conducted with our inquiry and applicant pools. These efforts, which cross all three academic units and touch all aspects of University life, will enrich our students’ experiences at Drew and better position us to compete in the marketplace, ensuring that the growth we have experienced for the last several years will continue well into the future.

While there are many new initiatives underway and there are still challenges ahead, we are excited by the possibilities of greater partnership and connection across the academic units and we look forward to working with you all in the coming year.

Deb and Javier

Debra Liebowitz
Dean of CLA and CSGS

Javier Viera
Dean of the Theological School