By Maggie Vancampen —
Arts & Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard highlighted successes from the last academic year in her last “State of the College” address in the Humanities building Sept. 13. Those included tenured physics professors publishing in nine journals and departments receiving large grants and awards.
Regarding the grants, she said, “We tell our students that persuasive writing is important in all careers and we certainly are demonstrating that with our work.”
The dean said growing collaboration is foremost in the college’s teaching mission too. There are new majors crossing disciplines like Neuroscience, Sustainability, LGTBQ Health Certificate and the 3+3 Program with Brandeis Law School.
She said that the administration recognizes the college’s willingness to collaborate. “I hope that the momentum in this area can continue to grow,” she said.
Kempf-Leonard places a premium on the community outreach Arts & Sciences does. “We are engaged with the world too,” she said. “And all though many universities purport to help their local communities, the devotion, especially of Arts and Sciences faculty, staff and students, I believe distinguish the University of Louisville from many universities.”
The dean said Professors at the Ville, the Leadership Lunch Series, Poetry Derby and Museums Professionals Network created programs, lectures, internships and research within the community.
She talked about the success of some of the community conferences including the Congress for New Urbanism, hosted by the Urban and Public Affairs faculty and staff, and the 20th Century Literature Conference.
“I would like to highlight ways in which the College of Arts and Sciences is on the move, action-oriented and dynamic,” she said. She talked about how Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies changed it’s name and how the Anthropology department created the Center for Archeology and Cultural Heritage.
The dean created new funding for undergraduate research targeting sophomores to make them more interested in research partnerships.
She said more midsummer classes made it easier for students to drop and add classes in the middle of the semester so their financial aid wasn’t affected.
She said faculty from five different departments participated in syllabus review training, peer-to-peer teaching evaluations and sessions on teaching portfolios to improve. “I believe we are well on our way in the Arts and Sciences to being able to showcase our teaching prowess,” she said.
“Although we didn’t handle it as well as we should have, and budge cuts and changes from Grawemeyer and HR made our tasks harder, we do finally have staffing in compliance with mandated fiscal cross checks and are able to provide appropriate support for our academic missions,” she said.
The dean said declining enrollment and retention within the university are troublesome, especially because U of L gets most of its money from tuition-paying students. But all faculty and staff are slated to get a two-percent raise beginning in January, per the budget passed in June.
“I don’t believe the institutional changes we have made have affected our mission-directed work, but I do know it has affected morale, and a great many progressive ideas that we have had, and didn’t get to pursue,” she said. “I believe that now is a brighter time, though, I really do.”
“We are ready, I think, to put our skills and innovation to good use in ways we haven’t before maybe, to help higher education in Kentucky,” Kempf-Leonard said. “I’m happy to report that the majority of our internal corrections last year, through that vigorous review process, were successful.” She also wants to increase the number of full-time tenure-track faculty who primarily teach.
She asked that all faculty be nimble despite possibly being weary of change. She said, “It isn’t the strongest who succeed, but rather it is those who are most adaptable, work collaboratively, and live within their means.”
Kempf-Leonard said that biochemistry professor Michael Nantz is representing the college well while they look for a permanent vice president of research.
She said Associate Dean for Research Robert Buchanan is working behind the scenes so the college can have more grant opportunities. “He’s also launching several new outreach efforts into departments this year, for faculty who are new, for those who haven’t written grants before and for multidisciplinary experts who might come together as innovative, collaborative teams.”
Photo by Maggie Vancampen // The Louisville Cardinal