Dean’s update

Dean Gregory J. Weidemann
Dean Gregory J. Weidemann

With students and faculty back from their summer break and the fall term underway, Storrs is abuzz with energy and excitement!

While we will not know official student numbers for another few weeks, College enrollment is expected to be at about last year’s level.  The University worked hard to reduce freshman enrollment at Storrs this year due to campus housing pressures. Although the campus is expected to grow under Next Generation Connecticut, new dormitory space will need to be created first to accommodate student growth. Until that space is created, there will be continuing pressure to limit enrollment. For our College, this should slow our enrollment growth, which has exceeded 70 percent since 2008.

The Department of Kinesiology officially joined our College family on July 1 as our eighth academic department. The College is planning a reception to welcome the department’s faculty, and Kinesiology will host an open house as well.

Every department is welcoming one or more new faculty this fall; the College has added a dozen new faculty to our ranks through the University’s faculty hiring initiative and replacing retiring or departing faculty. This is one of the larger cohorts of new faculty to join the College in quite some time. We look forward to additional future hires as Next Generation Connecticut begins to unfold over the next decade.

With the completion of the UConn Academic Plan as well as our College plan, attention will now turn to implementing priorities identified in the planning process. To help facilitate the development of new multidisciplinary initiatives, the campus will fund a number of three-year projects aligned with the Academic Plan’s thematic priorities.  The College will need to look at how these project funds could be used to advance our strategic priorities aligned with the Academic Plan.

This fall, we are seeing the full impact of our development of collaborative relationships with prestigious Chinese universities, with more than 20 students joining us under our 3+2 and 1+1 agreements. In a few short weeks, Mike O’Neill will lead a team to attend a meeting in Ethiopia with an additional trip to Kenya to explore opportunities for a more direct engagement in Africa. In addition, our International Committee will be working with the College leadership to develop a call for proposals for faculty to develop new study abroad opportunities.

The beginning of the fall term is always a time of heightened expectations by student and faculty alike and this fall is no exception.

By Gregory J. Weidemann