Message from the Dean



Astrida Orle Tantillo. Photo by Matthew Kaplan

Dear Friends of LAS,

As we come to the close of another semester, I would like to share with you some of the recent successes and accomplishments of our faculty, students, alumni, and friends.

We are very proud that UIC has moved up 20 spots in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings from last year: we moved from 149 in the nation to 129. Although these rankings are based on many factors, the College’s strong and ever-improving academic reputation and recent increase in graduation rates (an increase of 10% over the past five years) undoubtedly played important roles.

The strength of our faculty members is reflected in the recognition they have been receiving. Just in the past year, our professors have been named fellows of the following prestigious foundations: Guggenheim, Woodrow Wilson, Simons, Humboldt, and Alfred P. Sloan. Additionally, we have a fellow of the National Humanities Center, a Whiting Foundation awardee, two Fulbright scholars, and three National Science Foundation CAREER Award recipients. Our professors are making news and being quoted in the media. I hope you will enjoy reading about several of our extraordinary faculty members in this current edition of AtLAS.

We have been fortunate as well to hire exceptional new faculty members who will ensure our continued prominence. Since last year, we have hired 16 scholars at the forefront of their fields. Among them is Professor Jane Rhodes, head of African American Studies, about whom you will read more in this issue.

Our outstanding academic reputation may also explain how—in the face of an overall demographic trend towards a declining college-age population—we welcomed the largest class of first-year students in several years. We have been able to realize this class size without sacrificing our mission to diversity, academic excellence, or access. Forty-six percent of our first-year students are from underrepresented groups. Many are the first in their families to go to college and more than half receive substantial financial assistance to attend. I am so pleased that the campus’ mission of “Access to Excellence” is so well represented in our College.

As you are undoubtedly aware, as a public institution, we face many budgetary uncertainties and challenges. One of the reasons we are able to provide an outstanding liberal arts education is the generosity of our supporters. We are therefore exceptionally thankful to those who increased our ability to support our students. Over the last year, we have seen a marked increase in scholarship support, and I am very grateful to all of our benefactors. I hope you will enjoy reading about the College’s largest scholarship endowment, supported by The Davee Foundation, and share in the College’s immense sense of gratitude in light of the Foundation’s pledge to increase substantially its support.

Looking towards 2016 and beyond, LAS faces many challenges, but thanks to the beneficence of the friends, alumni, faculty, and staff, who give of their vision, time, enthusiasm, and service in so many ways, we are presented with even more opportunities. Thank you for all you do to improve the College experience for a new generation of liberal arts and sciences students at UIC.

Astrida Orle Tantillo, PhD