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From the dean

Dear Friends, Since its founding in 1939, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has been the academic heart of the University of Connecticut. We take seriously the foundations of a liberal education: We teach students to think creatively and analytically; to reason from evidence; to respect the views and experiences of all members of our diverse community; and to continue learning throughout their lives, wherever their professional and personal journeys take them. Now, with nearly 10,000 undergraduates and 800 tenure-track faculty across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, our College continues to build on the education that is the cornerstone of our U.S. News and World Report top 25 public university. In these pages, you’ll learn about some of our proudest recent accomplishments. In 2016, our students applied their classroom knowledge at conferences around the globe, including the COP22 conference on climate change in Marrakesh, Morocco, and the United State of Women Summit at the White House. Faculty in the social sciences and humanities presented more than a dozen public discussions on the 2016 U.S. elections and their affiliated issues. Our scientists continued to earn funding and recognition at the international level, with more than $40 million in research expenditures on problems like novel contraceptives, language acquisition in deaf children, and coastal resiliency. The connection to our community of more than 100,000 alumni also continued to grow, as hundreds of dedicated alumni volunteered their time to mentor students, serve on career panels, and participate in networking events in Storrs and around the country. Finally, our longtime Dean, Jeremy Teitelbaum, moved to a post as interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UConn. Dean Teitelbaum served the College for more than eight years and saw CLAS successfully through tumultuous economic times; oversaw the development and implementation of the College’s ambitious academic plan; vigorously championed academic freedom; and consistently supported initiatives enabling college access to students from underrepresented backgrounds. He has earned great respect among faculty, staff, and students, and we thank him heartily for his service. As I take on the leadership of CLAS after six years as associate dean, I’m reminded that our College is its people–our students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends. So please consider this volume a thank-you for the part you’ve played in defining the UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Sincerely,

Davita Silfen Glasberg Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Sociology

Contents 4

Democracy and Disagreement


Out of Your Mind


Crowdsourcing New Antibiotics


Advancing Equality for Women and Girls of Color


Student Climate Leaders on the Global Stage


Scholarship Stories


Creative Spaces


Biology Blitz


Our Strength, in Numbers


A Lifetime of Learning

COLLEGE Administration Interim Dean: Davita Silfen Glasberg, Professor of Sociology Associate Dean of Humanities and Regional Campuses: Shirley Roe, Professor of History Associate Dean of Life and Behavioral Sciences and Undergraduate Education: Andrew Moiseff, Professor of Physiology and Neurobiology Associate Dean of Physical Sciences and Graduate Education and Research: Robin CĂ´tĂŠ, Professor of Physics Associate Dean of Social Sciences and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh, Professor of Political Science


2017 Dean’s Report

Democracy & Disagreement

2017 Dean’s Report


Democracies need passionate citizens. Without conviction, nothing gets done. But we also need to listen to one another, and really listening means being open to the possibility that we could learn something from those with differing views; that our views can always improve. Can this belief, which researchers call “intellectual humility,” help us overcome our country’s current political divisions? These and other big questions are being posed by the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project, a new initiative in the CLAS Humanities Institute. Funded by an unprecedented $5.75 million investment from the John Templeton Foundation, the initiative is one of the largest humanities projects ever funded, and spans the disciplines of political science, philosophy, public policy, sociology, journalism, and Africana studies, among others. Faculty and students in the project are exploring such topics as hostility in online commenting, perceptions of others when discussing racially-charged issues, and the ethics behind sexual consent. The project’s kickoff event in Washington, D.C. in September 2016 featured a discussion with thought leaders such as David Brooks, columnist at The New York Times; Krista Tippett, host of NPR’s “On Being”; and Jelani Cobb, professor of journalism at Columbia University and columnist for The New Yorker. Also in 2016, the project sponsored the Upstander Academy, an institute for Connecticut teachers on how to instill humble and constructive argument skills in K-12 students. “As an educator, humility is your biggest tool,” says Christopher Newell, an education supervisor at the Connecticut Mashantucket Pequot Museum and participant in the Upstander Academy. “I want to give students something they will talk about on the bus ride home.”

Left: The Humility and Conviction in Public Life project launch event, hosted at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Top Right: Professor Michael Lynch delivers the opening remarks at the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project launch event. Bottom Right: Upstander Academy, a professional development institute for primary and secondary educators, hosted on the Storrs campus in August 2016.

“This is an unprecedented attempt to apply humanities and social science research to solve problems in the political sphere.” Michael Lynch

Director of the Humanities Institute, Professor of Philosophy, and Principal Investigator for the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project


2017 Dean’s Report

Out of

Your Mind

The centerpiece of the Brain Imaging Research Center, UConn’s new high-tech imaging complex, is a $10 million, state-ofthe-art functional MRI machine that allows researchers and students to watch the brain perform cognitive functions in real time. The technology shows never-before-seen details that answer longstanding questions about autism, language learning, emotion, and traumatic brain injuries like concussion. Established in June 2015 in a newly-renovated wing of the David C. Phillips Communication Science Building, the Center hosts trainings for UConn faculty and students on MRI techniques; provides annual seed grants for research projects in cognitive neuroscience; and brings renowned brain scientists to campus to speak on issues related to cognition, language learning, linguistics, speech, and hearing.

2017 Dean’s Report

Overcoming Autism Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences Inge-Marie Eigsti, pictured here with Ph.D. student in clinical psychology Joshua Green, uses the fMRI to create images of how some autistic children actively use parts of the brain when they talk that are not usually used to speak and understand language. Her results show that some children, with the right interventions, can outgrow an autism diagnosis.

Other projects

From Bed to Brain

The Rhythm of Emotion

Dough, Tough, Cough, Rough

Learning a second language as an adult is notoriously difficult, in part because many adults have trouble learning subtle differences among unfamiliar sounds. Assistant Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Emily Myers received a National Science Foundation CAREER grant in 2016 to study how sleep patterns can impact your ability to learn a second language.

Why does music produce such strong emotions? It might be because music, with its natural pulses and beats, mimics the very neural waves our brains emit, according to Professor of Psychological Sciences Ed Large. His research group is using the fMRI facility to study the similarities between musical waves and brain waves that create thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

With colleagues from Haskins Laboratories and Yale University, Professor of Psychological Sciences and Director of the Brain Imaging Research Center Jay Rueckl developed a novel process that allows researchers to detect even minor differences in reading abilities across a broad range of ages and stages of life. Their work may lead to new adult reading interventions.


National Initiatives

Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology Nichole Broderick instructs a lab for the course “Microbe Hunting: Crowdsourcing the Discovery of New Antibiotics.”

Crowdsourcing New Antibiotics

“The class makes students part of the battle against the growing problem of global antibiotic resistance.” Sabrina Yum-Chan ’19 (CLAS)

The search for new antibiotics doesn’t always start at pharmaceutical companies. Sometimes, it starts in the classroom. As part of the White House’s $121 million National Microbiome Initiative, in 2016 the University of Connecticut joined the Small World Initiative, a program that teaches students to search for new antibiotics by probing microbiomes, the communities of microorganisms that live on and in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere. Dysfunctional microbiomes are associated with many issues, including human chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and asthma. Students in Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology Nichole Broderick’s course, “Microbe Hunting: Crowdsourcing the Discovery of New Antibiotics,” search the soil of Connecticut for biological tools that could lead to the next big antibiotic. The Small World Initiative oversees the search for new antibiotics in nearly 150 high schools and undergraduate institutions worldwide. Broderick serves as lead instructor for the Initiative, and spent the summer of 2016 training university and highschool faculty from across the United States, Spain, and India. “The grand goal is to find new antibiotics,” Broderick says.

2017 Dean’s Report

Advancing Equality for Women and Girls of Color Despite a growing amount of social science research on women’s issues and issues of people of color, women of color often “dance in the margins” of societal institutions, says Julia Jordan-Zachery ’94 MA, ’97 Ph.D., Director of the Black Studies Program at Providence College. Jordan-Zachery’s keynote address in September 2016 kicked off UConn’s participation in the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research on Women and Girls of Color, a consortium of more than 50 U.S. institutions committed to investing in research on issues impacting the lives of women and girls of color. Led by Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies Shayla Nunnally, the program funded 15 UConn research projects in 2016. These projects explore issues like: • Positive parenting programs for black families in the city of Hartford • Barriers to quality STEM education for girls of color • Analyses of existing federal policies to improve STEM participation among underrepresented groups • Issues surrounding the Latina lesbian experience in the United States The program also offers special undergraduate classes like “Gender, Culture and Science,” which focuses on women and women of color in STEM fields.

Top: Julia Jordan-Zachery ’94 MA, ’97 Ph.D. speaks at the Collaborative kickoff event in September 2016. Center and Bottom: Student discussions in “Gender, Culture, and Science,” a special undergraduate course taught in the fall of 2016.


student experiences

Student Climate Leaders on the Global Stage In November 2016, eleven CLAS students traveled to Marrakech, Morocco, to take part in COP22: the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The two-week conference assembled representatives from nearly 200 nations to discuss implementing a global climate agreement proposed at the 2015 session in Paris. “The program identifies students interested in issues like environmental policy, human rights, economics, and sustainability, and helps them develop even further as leaders,” says Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Mark Urban, one of the trip’s faculty advisors. In Marrakesh, the UConn contingent attended lectures by global leaders in environmental policy and research, and learned about innovative solutions to climate change problems. They also met with students from other U.S. institutions and Cadi Ayyad University in Morocco to talk about how college students can provide leadership on climate action. “When we spoke to students from other countries, it was clear that our generation will face this climate crisis, so it’s urgent that we learn about the environment and sustainability,” says Benjamin Breslau ’18 (CLAS), an ecology and evolutionary biology major. On campus, Breslau is an intern in the Office of Environmental Policy and is active in several student environmental organizations. One such group, ECOalition, is spearheading a movement to enhance UConn’s undergraduate curriculum in environmental literacy. Breslau says that attending COP22 gave him a global perspective on climate change and reinforced the importance of environmental education and advocacy. “The thing I took away is that the world won’t wait,” he says. “Climate change is affecting people now. The world is moving forward with environmentalism and green technologies, and it’s really up to us to facilitate these initiatives.”

Top: From right to left, Benjamin Breslau ’18 (CLAS), Margaux Verlaque-Amara ’18 (CLAS), and Usra Qureshi ’19 (CLAS) at Cadi Ayyad University in Morocco. Center: A hiking excursion in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Bottom: UConn students, faculty, and staff at the Green Zone, a section of COP22 oriented to members of the public.

2017 Dean’s Report

SCholarship STories Reem Elazazy ’17 (CLAS)

Political science and biological sciences major; recipient of the 2016-2017 Crystal Molina Memorial Scholarship “I’m on the board of CT Anchor, an organization that serves refugees in Connecticut and abroad. We went on a trip to Greece and helped at a refugee camp there for two weeks. We funded a lot of projects, including the installation of a whole water system in the camp. “Scholarships are one of the most helpful academic resources because they let me pay part of my tuition, so I can focus more on academics and experiences like CT Anchor, and less on stressing over how to pay for college. It eliminates a huge burden.”

Bianca Gonzalez-Sobrino

Ph.D. candidate in sociology; 2016-2017 recipient of the CLAS Graduate Fellowship “I’ve been very fortunate to receive my fellowship and the other awards that I’ve received for my research. It has given me the chance to become a better researcher, and to give back to the University through my work.”

Franchesca Kuhney ’17 (CLAS)

Psychological sciences major; 2016-2017 recipient of the Posselt Family Opportunity Scholarship “Coming in, I didn’t really know what research was, and now here I am working on my own independent project. Thinking about how much I’ve grown in that lab is really incredible.”

We’re making a difference for our students. Student travel to COP22 was made possible in part by support from the CLAS Dean’s Fund. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the College is able to provide rich learning opportunities like these and help make a quality education accessible to students from a variety of backgrounds.

Learn more at clas.uconn.edu/giving



2017 Dean’s Report

Creative Spaces

Above: Next Generation Connecticut Hall. Below: Renovated Henry Ruthven Monteith Building; Architectural rendering of the Engineering and Science Building.

Under UConn’s strategic Master Plan, CLAS facilities that foster imagination, cultivate relationships, and advance innovation are coming to life across campus. For more than 50 years, the Henry Ruthven Monteith Building served as the home of social sciences departments in CLAS. The building underwent a much-needed renovation in 2016, which resulted in the instillation of high-tech classrooms and office space, as well as mixed-use space for students and faculty to use for collaborative work. Some other new spaces catching attention on campus include: • Next Generation Connecticut Hall, a new 212,000-squarefoot residential facility, opened in the fall 2016 semester for students participating in UConn living and learning communities. Construction began in November 2014. • The Humanities Institute, newly expanded with a $5.75 million investment from the John Templeton Foundation, has a new home in the Homer D. Babbidge Library, complete with collaborative work space for Humanities Institute fellows and a brand new graduate student cooperation space. • The Engineering and Science Building, an 115,000-squarefoot facility, will include state-of-the-art laboratory space for interdisciplinary research, and will encourage collaboration among the physical sciences and engineering. Completion of the five-story building is targeted for the summer of 2017.

2017 Dean’s Report

Biology Blitz UConn biologists brought together more than 170 scientists from across the United States and Canada and community members of all ages for the 2016 Connecticut BioBlitz, a biological collection spree to identify as many animals and plants as possible within a 24-hour period. The event, held within a five-mile radius of Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, tallied 2,765 species—breaking the previous U.S. BioBlitz record set in 2001—and discovered more than a dozen species in the state for the first time. “It’s a way to get people interested in discovery, and to appreciate the incredible plant and animal wildlife that exists outside their own back door,” says Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology David Wagner, who organized the event. For Veronica Bueno, a UConn biology Ph.D. student and firsttime BioBlitz participant, the high point was engaging with the middle and high-school students who assisted with the species count. “It makes them feel like scientists and that they’re part of something,” she says. “We see a lot of ourselves in these kids.”


Our Strength, In Numbers

Our Mission

Fast Facts

The mission of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is to create and disseminate knowledge in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and to help students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to become independent thinkers, lifelong learners, and responsible citizens. Established in 1939, today it is the largest college in the University of Connecticut and serves students in Storrs and at regional campuses across the state.



centers and institutes

academic departments


undergraduate majors


undergraduate minors

Our Students Undergraduate


Fall 2016

Students at Storrs campus Students at regional campuses



Fall 2016

7,952 1,697


of UConn undergraduates are CLAS majors.

Student Characteristics Fall 2016

Undergraduate Graduate 57% 55% 34% 12% 6% 33%

Female Minority International

Students at Storrs campus Students at regional campuses


1,594 178



of UConn graduate students are in CLAS program tracks.

UConn Nation

100,000 alumni

More than of UConn have degrees from CLAS.

Our Academics In 2016, UConn was named a


of UConn faculty are housed in CLAS departments.

Top 25 Public University


of total credit hours at UConn are taught in CLAS.

Research expenditures for CLAS exceeded

US News and World Report

for the 6th consecutive year.

$40 million in fiscal year 2016.

2017 Dean’s Report


A Lifetime of Learning How does the science of polling impact election outcomes? What are the implications of national U.S. immigration reform? Will economic policy actually change significantly in the next four years? These topics and more were addressed during the fall 2016 CLAS College Experience, the College’s signature lifelong learning program. In this day-long series of talks and discussions, alumni return to campus to hear distinguished faculty speak on their areas of expertise in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The talks focus on current events and topics relevant to people’s everyday lives, like the policy issues that dominated the 2016 presidential election.

“It’s not just that it’s an interesting thing to learn – I can relate the College Experience to my life in a very significant way.” Elizabeth Zezima ’78 (CLAS)

Assistant Professor in Residence of Public Policy Jennifer Dineen, pictured right, spoke about the ins and outs of national polling, and why sample size and sampling methods matter—a topic particularly relevant to the 2016 election cycle.

Keep in touch with your alma mater. You can stay connected to CLAS by mentoring a student in your major, attending an alumni event, finding out the latest news from your department, and more.

Learn more at clas.uconn.edu/alumni

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2017 Dean's Report  

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