By Jacob Abrahamson–
Kecia Thomas, a finalist for A&S Dean, hosted an open forum for A&S students and faculty today. Topics covered included diversity in the college and the “brand” of the college.
Thomas explained that A&S is too often only considered to be about general education. She expressed a desire to move away from this by increasing interdisciplinary work to discover new knowledge and encourage graduate studies. Along with this, she also hopes to connect with the business community and “think entrepreneurially” about raising revenue and recruitment.
Going along with the “brand” theme, she hopes to remove the stigma that an Arts and Sciences degree is worthless.
“What can’t you do with an Arts and Sciences degree?” Thomas said in response to the stigma.
Thomas acknowledged the challenges that face the University and A&S. She claimed that her experience in a state institution has shown her the difficulties of budget cuts like the ones being proposed currently. According to Thomas, the new dean will have to focus on the need for better infrastructure and more graduate assistantships, scholarships and fellowships for students who want to attend U of L.
During her talk, she first focused on her personal journey to entering academia. She used the story of being one of few African American women in her field to highlight her interest in recruiting a diverse group of students and faculty.
Over 50 faculty members attended the forum, which included began with an introductory talk from Dr. Thomas. This was followed by time for questions from the faculty in attendance.
Thomas has a Ph. D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Penn State University and is currently the Interim Associate Dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia.
Before Provost Shirley Willihnganz makes the final decision in late March, three more candidates will visit campus.
A guide of the five candidates can be found at online at Louisvillecardinal.com.