Looking Eastward at the West side of Tykson Hall
About the College of Arts and Sciences

Dean's Blog

A Message from Bruce Blonigen

As we begin to move through the first weeks of fall term, I can say that I am struck by a mix of emotions. It’s exhilarating to have students back on campus and in the classroom. At the same time, we are still dealing with the ups and downs of the coronavirus pandemic and the worries that come with it.

Honestly, this year will take some getting used to as our “new normal” evolves, especially as we try to assist our students after the difficulties many of them faced – and still face – during the pandemic. The impressive adaptability of our CAS faculty and staff, the generosity of our donors, and the support from alumni have gotten us through so far. Thank you for what you’ve all done since this all began more than a year and a half ago, and for continuing to be there for each other as we cope with this next phase of the pandemic. Groups, organizations, and communities that come together for each other in challenging times will come out even stronger than they were before.

I truly feel we are that type of community, and I am very thankful for the position this puts us in. Our campus is now 96% vaccinated, which is a phenomenal rate and a testament to our commitment to each other to have a safe community. At the same time, we have many people on campus who have worked so hard to make our spaces safe, from facilities staff who have enhanced cleaning of classrooms and improved airflow and ventilation in our buildings, to our leadership that has worked closely with health authorities to establish strong rules regarding face coverings that protect us in classrooms and other settings on campus. Our campus is one of the safest places outside of your home. And this is allowing us to fulfill our mission to our students through in-person instruction and experiences. One sign of how much students appreciate this is the record class size of first-year students we are welcoming this fall!

We have also worked hard together not only to ensure that we don’t lose ground during these challenging times, but also to set up the foundation for future success. Perhaps the most obvious example is all the amazing work that faculty and staff have done to envision the new School of Global Studies and Languages. But it is also the creativity that faculty and staff have in using new technologies for instruction and research; these will continue to be important tools after the pandemic. The groundwork we’ve laid to transition us to shared administrative services and a complete refresh of CAS department and program websites will also be transformative for our college in coming years.

I recognize that we continue to face many challenges and uncertainties because of the pandemic, and I appreciate that we must continue to be vigilant to keep ourselves and others safe. But I feel very fortunate to be part of a community that has worked so hard to put us in such a favorable position, and this makes me very optimistic for our future. Thank you for all your good work.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need to discuss how things are going for fall term. Connect with your department or unit head or with any of us on the CAS leadership team. Most of all, connect with each other and look after each other. Good luck for the remainder of the term, and I hope you will stay healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Bruce Blonigen, Tykeson Dean of Students