Message from Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo

Dean Astrida Orle TantilloWelcome to the new 2015-2016 academic year!

I hope your summer was enjoyable, restorative, and productive. Everyone here in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is looking forward to an exciting and busy 2015-2016.

I would like to outline a few accomplishments of which we all can be justifiably proud.  Just in the past year, our faculty members have been named fellows of the following foundations: Guggenheim, Woodrow Wilson, Simons, Humboldt, and Alfred P. Sloan. Additionally, we have a new fellow of the National Humanities Center, a new Whiting awardee, two Fulbright scholars and three NSF CAREER Award recipients. Our faculty members are making news and being quoted in the media—locally, nationally, and internationally. For more information on the accomplishments of our colleagues, please see the news section of our website. 

This fall thirteen new tenure-line faculty members will join our College community. Three of them are part of the Chancellor’s Cluster Hiring Initiative. Our new faculty members are joining departments across the College and will add to the intellectual breadth of LAS. Short biographies of our impressive new faculty can be found here.

There is a great deal of good news to report concerning our undergraduates. The College continues to expand and develop academic resources for our students, and we believe that our efforts are producing results: our 6-year graduation rates have improved to 60.7%--a 10% increase since 2009. We are dedicated to increasing these percentages, and we will continue to work together on a variety of initiatives to help our students. 

We know that for many of our students the most immediate barriers to success are financial. I am therefore thrilled that our new Director of Advancement, Katherine Veach, has brought our development efforts to a whole new level. This past year she and her team were able to secure over a million dollars for a dozen new or substantially increased scholarships and awards to support our students in their academic pursuits. A particularly exciting initiative is the Finish Line Fund, a newly established fund that provides aid to students with financial holds, i.e., those students who, for financial reasons, cannot register for their final semester and graduate.  The need for this fund became clear when we learned that each semester there are a large number of students close to graduating and in good academic standing who are unable to complete their degrees simply because they have financial holds on their accounts -- sometimes for very small amounts of money owed. More information on this fund can be found here:

I am delighted to report that enrollments are up sharply this year, and we were able to meet our target of 2,250 new first-year students. There are undoubtedly several reasons for this happy turn of events, but one extremely important factor is the work undertaken by our LAS recruiter, Justin Wier. Justin has launched a wide variety of initiatives to increase enrollment, including the introduction of niche recruiting programs.  Especially notable is Justin’s success attracting students from underrepresented groups. We anticipate an 11% increase in the number of African American first-year students and a 24% increase in the number of Hispanic first-year students matriculating this fall. Underrepresented groups in total are expected to comprise 45% of the first-year class, and first-year Hispanic students are the largest percent of all racial/ethnic groups for the second year.  

Finally, on behalf of the College, I would like to express my thanks to our new Chancellor who in his first several months has already done a great deal to support us and advance our mission. He has been meeting with the various departments within our College and will continue to do so until he has had a chance to meet with all. He has also met with staff representatives from all of our departments.  

I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together over the past year, and I congratulate the talented and dedicated faculty, staff, and students who have made it possible. It is because of you that I know the College will continue to flourish going forward.

All my best wishes for a successful academic year,

Astrida Orle Tantillo, PhD

Continue reading about how LAS is making a real impact in the most recent edition of AtLAS.

In addition to serving as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Astrida Orle Tantillo has served for 15 years as a professor of Germanic studies and history. She previously served as the director of the College’s School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics before filling the role of interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Dean Tantillo is an internationally renowned Goethe scholar and former president of the Goethe Society of North America.