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HASS dean delivers ‘state of the college’ address

September 17th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By J.P. Rodriguez

LOGAN – Dean Yolanda Flores Niemann delivered the State of HASS address Wednesday afternoon at the Morgan Theatre of the Chase Fine Arts Center. The speech was given to a room full of faculty and staff from HASS, along with other members of the university.

“Today, we stand at a defining moment for our university and our college,” said Flores Niemann.

She said the current situation of HASS presents an opportunity for the to shape the curriculum, and make changes to the college which will help students receive the best quality of education possible despite cutbacks on HASS’s budget.

“We have all lost faculty across all colleges,” said Flores Niemann, “but reconnecting with our passion will help you get the best possible liberal art education for our students.”

She said that at USU, faculty have the privilege to work on a land grant institution which serves a large number of people throughout the state of Utah. Because of this, HASS should receive both state-wide and national recognition for the services and education it provides to students, she said.

“This must not remain a Cache Valley secret,” said Flores Niemann regarding HASS. She said the services and educational opportunities of the college are great, and should be recognized outside of the valley, to state and national level.

NIemann said what are the three main goals for HASS.

First, she said HASS should concentrate on President’s Stan Albrecht request of making the arts at HASS its own college. After the speech, Niemann said the arts have been a central part in contributing to what HASS is today, but she believes it can be a “win-win” situation for both, allowing HASS to concentrate on humanities and social sciences curriculum.

Flores NIemann said that right now, there will be a discussion on whether to separate the arts from HASS. While there is no timeline, she said President Albrecht does not want the discussion to go beyond the end of the academic year.

Second, Flores Niemann said a goal will be to concentrate on the core curriculum at HASS. She said the college and the academic departments need to concentrate on what the core curriculum for them needs to be. After the address, she said that because the college lost more faculty members to the voluntary retirement incentive than what they expected, the college needs to find ways to better serve the students with the resources they now have available. HASS needs to ask the question, “which are the classes that students majoring in the liberal arts need to take,” she said.

“Whatever happens as a result of this discussion,” said Flores Niemann, “let me make it absolutely clear, that we at HASS will not become the service college fo the university; your talents are simply too great, and our mission too vast for that to happen.”

The dean said 68 percent of USU student take classes from HASS each year.

“We can’t afford to be offering a lot of frivolous courses,” she said. “They may be wonderful, they may be fun, but first we have to think about what is this core and what is key to offer.”

Flores Niemann said a blue ribbon team has been set up to investigate what the specific ore classes should be. She said the group will look at the classes for the colleges, and converse with the faculty at HASS’ departments to see what is their input so the college can make the best possible decision.

The third goal for HASS, she said, is to improve the environment for the faculty, and the process for junior faculty to become tenure. Part of the questions, Niemann said, will be to find out how could junior faculty be better advised on their process to obtain a full professorship, and how to better use the capabilities of the senior faculty members to better help the college and their colleagues.

“We are the heart and soul of this university,” said Flores Niemann. “This is a defining moment; we are establishing our legacy for the future.”

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