Message to the A&S Community

October 6th, 2013

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I write to let you know that I have decided to step down as dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Science in May 2014. It has been a distinct privilege, one of the greatest in my life, to lead the College—and above all, to work with you.

The changes in the College in recent years have been fundamental. The College is well positioned to work with a new dean, with much momentum going forward.

In 2008, we faced two great challenges. The first was to modernize the management structure in the College, especially for finance and administration. The other was to increase fundraising rapidly.  Success in these endeavors provides the critical foundation of teaching and research. Looking back over the last five years, by any measure we have succeeded.

From the start administrative and financial operations in our office were placed on an effective and robust basis, characterized by multi-year, integrated financial planning to support new strategic directions for the College.

We also created one of the finest fundraising operations on Grounds. Annual philanthropic commitments have grown from $24.5 million in 2009-2010 to $62 million in 2012-13.

With these challenges met, the College is now able to hire dozens of new faculty— over 50 new faculty in this academic year alone. At the same time we have directed significant new funding to improve faculty compensation.

We have also restructured the graduate programs, significantly improving fellowship offerings and guaranteeing five years of financial support for all doctoral students.

We have successfully retained our top faculty who received offers from peer institutions—UCLA, Texas, Michigan, Oxford, Cambridge, Duke, and others—with a stellar retention rate of approximately 75% since 2009-2010; last year it was over 80%.

The College established the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, with support of the Mellon Foundation; the Asia Institute, which won a Title VI grant in 2010 to designate the Institute as a National Resource Center in East Asian Studies; and we launched the Quantitative Collaborative to encourage innovative methods to deal with complex social problems. Other initiatives, such as the World Language Institute are also underway.

In the sciences, we have made a focused investment in selected areas identified by the chairs of science departments and distinguished scientists in the College, investing approximately $4.5 million annually in research support. Notable accomplishments include the creation of the Center for Chemistry of the Universe; the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization with support from the Department of Energy; and the continued success of the Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research.

We have also benefited from the addition of new facilities, including the New South Lawn and New Cabell Hall renovations, the Physical and Life Sciences Building, Ruffin Hall, Hunter Smith Band Building, as well as the Ruth Caplin Theatre.

In the sabbatical that follows my current term, I will look to completing a book titled ‘The Three Worlds of East Asian Capitalism,” before returning to teaching.

It has been an honor to serve as your dean.  I have a fund of wonderful memories, and I look forward to working with you in future endeavors for the College.


Leaving the Comfort Zone

July 5th, 2013

Three years ago, the College of Arts and Sciences, HKUST, and Peking University entered into a trilateral partnership. The idea was to create research and teaching collaboration among the three institutions that can be enduring. The Jefferson Global Seminars is part of that effort. I want to thank Philip Zelikow, Associate Dean of Graduate Academic Programs in Arts and Sciences, for creating this program with stellar curricular content; and James Lee, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at HKUST, who worked hand and glove with us to make it all possible—administratively, financially, and above all, intellectually. - MW
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