Message from the Dean

 

Astrida Orle Tantillo

Astrida Orle Tantillo. Photo by Matthew Kaplan

Dear Friends of LAS,

The beginning of an academic year is such a gratifying time: it is an opportunity to look back with satisfaction at the previous year’s accomplishments and to look forward to the excitement of new beginnings. It is particularly inspirational to witness the enthusiasm that our new incoming students bring to the campus.

Among the most notable news of last year was the gift of the estate of Marianna F. Thaden to establish the Edward and Marianna Thaden Chair in Russian and East European Intellectual History in the Department of History. Marianna Thaden, who died in 2011, was the wife of the late Edward Carl Thaden (1922-2008), department chair (1971-74), professor of history emeritus at UIC, and a leading scholar in the field.

After conducting an international search to fill this position, I am very pleased to announce that the first occupant of the Thaden Chair will be Marina B. Mogilner, who comes to us from the Center for the Study of Nationalism and Empire in Kazan, Russia, where she held the position of deputy director. Mogilner, who earned her PhD in Russian history from Rutgers University, also has been serving as an editor of ab Imperio, an online journal of empire and nationalism studies. We will be featuring her in an upcoming AtLAS after she has had a bit of an opportunity to settle into life at UIC.

The College has been fortunate over the last several years to receive four new academic Chairs in a very short period of time. These additions are particularly exciting because they have enhanced our areas of existing strength.

Established through a gift from the Hejna Family Foundation, in 2010 the College welcomed to our faculty Keely Stauter-Halsted as the Stefan and Lucy Hejna Family Chair in the History of Poland and Michal Pawel Markowski as the Stefan and Lucy Hejna Family Chair in Polish Languages and Literatures. Stauter-Halsted, based in the Department of History, and Markowski, based in the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages, have worked together to enhance the profile of the Polish Studies program and we look forward to the program’s continued growth. With this year’s addition of the Thaden Chair, UIC is quickly becoming one of the most important centers for Central and East European Studies.

In 2011, The NoVo Foundation funded a Chair in Social and Emotional Learning. Housed in the Department of Psychology, the NoVo Chair was established in recognition of the pioneering work of LAS Distinguished Professor Roger Weissberg, who holds the NoVo Chair and leads his interdisciplinary team as they conduct continuing research on the societal and academic benefits of SEL. The NoVo Chair serves to crown our reputation, excellence, and impact in the field of social and emotional learning.

As our many areas of academic excellence continue to grow, we are also very proud to welcome to LAS and UIC the Inter-University Program for Latino Research, a national consortium of 25 university-based research centers. The IUPLR was founded in 1983 with support from the Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation and Tinker Foundation. The IUPLR was first housed at Stanford University and comes to us from Notre Dame University. Congratulations to Professor Maria de los Angeles Torres for her success in bringing the center to the UIC.

Promoting student success is a top priority for the College, and we are creating many new initiatives for our students. Among these, we are particularly focusing upon ones to promote first-year student success as well as ones that will enhance job opportunities after graduation. We have hired many new advisors, are expanding our undergraduate research and internship opportunities, and are creating and revising courses for our students.

I am particularly pleased that each of our incoming freshmen this year has been assigned an advisor with whom the student will work throughout his or her academic career in LAS. We also have created new academic courses specifically geared toward first-year students. These freshmen-only settings will give students an opportunity to learn in a peer environment and form friendships that have the potential to last a lifetime.

I am so very proud of our alumni, students and faculty, who are engaged in endeavors at the local, national and global level that are making a real difference. I very much hope you will enjoy reading about their accomplishments in this current AtLAS.

In many cases, the work of students and faculty has been supported by the generosity of our friends and alumni. I cannot begin to thank the many friends of LAS whose contributions ensure the success of our students both in college and beyond, as well as the continued flourishing of the College of LAS.

Sincerely,

Astrida Orle Tantillo, PhD