Why the Liberal Arts?

Message from the DeanIt is my goal that LSA will lead the University in raising support to enhance the student experience, generate new and innovative programs that meet students' ever-changing needs, and reward the research and teaching of exceptional faculty....

Fostering Excellence

When I moved to Ann Arbor as an assistant professor, I could hardly believe my good fortune. I had arrived at a campus that was rich with history, bursting with intellectual excitement, and filled with talented students and world-class leaders—in my field and many others.

I was proud to join this great University and, many years later, I am both humbled and honored to serve as Interim Dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. LSA is the largest and most varied of the University’s 19 schools and colleges, serving nearly 20,000 students. More than 40 of our academic programs are ranked among the top 10 in the nation, and five of our programs are the best in their fields. Our students exhibit impressive talents and initiative, and care deeply about the world beyond the classroom. Our faculty have been recognized with a wealth of prestigious awards. Our facilities are world-class. It's corny but true: I am truly inspired by leading this spectacular College.

As the College continues its search for a permanent Dean, my first goal is to maintain and nurture excellence. This involves continuous, ongoing attention to every aspect of LSA, from architectural blueprints and budgets to student credit hours. I will appoint outstanding faculty to academic leadership in departments and units. I will work closely with units to ensure that our students have the courses they want and need, as well as access to exciting and valuable opportunities outside the classroom—including research, internships, and international experiences. I will work to support faculty and student research and innovation in all the divisions of the College. I will ensure that the College maintains its strong commitment to diversity. The College will move forward, even as it transitions.

A significant focus of this academic year is the next fundraising campaign, which will launch in November. The College's goal for the campaign is ambitious—necessarily so, because State support for higher education has been greatly eroded in years past: a decline of 32 percent since 2008. As such, private funding is now absolutely critical to ensure that educational access remains open to a variety of students. One key element to this success is student scholarship support. It is my goal that LSA will lead the University in raising support to enhance the student experience, generate new and innovative programs that meet students' ever-changing needs, and reward the research and teaching of exceptional faculty.

The campaign will also help us garner support in our work to preserve the liberal arts and sciences. In a challenging economy, many question the value of studying fields that do not provide technical or job training. A liberal arts education allows students to adapt to rapid changes, new fields, new technologies, and new challenges. In an increasingly complex world, liberal arts graduates continue to contribute in an astonishing variety of ways. That's what an LSA education is all about.

LSA has been my academic home for 30 years, and it is my pleasure and honor to "give back" this year, with my administrative service. I welcome your thoughts and comments, and invite you to email me at lsa-dean@umich.edu.

Susan A. Gelman

Heinz Werner Distinguished University Professor, Professor of Psychology, and Interim Dean of LSA

LSA Dean Terrence J. McDonald Says A Liberal Arts Education Prepares Students Well For the Future

May 22, 2013