Visit Health Watch for COVID-19 updates. Find Employee Return to Campus and Student Return to Campus information.
Emergency Notification

From the Dean

September 9, 2020
September 2020
Dear Arts & Letters Community:

The Fall Semester is in full swing! That means that my student drop-in office hours are in full swing too. College of Arts & Letters students can drop in to my personal “Zoom Room” on Friday mornings 10:00 am - 11:00 am to share the challenges – and successes – of the remote Fall semester. Faculty and Staff are invited to share their challenges and successes at a different time: Mondays 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm. The Zoom Room link is here.

There are indeed successes to celebrate! Dr. Kimberly Robertson, Associate Professor of Liberal Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), is launching the campuses first American Indian Students Association. The group meets weekly on Thursdays 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm via zoom.

Assistant Professor of screenwriting in the Department of Television, Film, and Media Ligiah Villalobos recently participated in an Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences “It Starts with Us” dialogue in which she and three other female BIPOC filmmakers discuss gatekeeping issues in the industry and the anti-racist practices necessary to counteract them. The conversation is moderated by Bird Runningwater, director of the Indigenous Program at the Sundance Institute. It’s worth taking an hour to listen to what they have to say here.

In another faculty success, ​Department of Communication Studies Associate Professor Elaine Wittenberg has received a grant from the Archstone Foundation to develop, in collaboration with a colleague in the Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services, a smart-phone app to assist families in communicating with health care providers while their loved ones are in palliative care. She has been recognized by the National Communications Association (NCA) for her work with the Bernard J. Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship or Distinguished Service in Family Communication. According to the NCA, “the purpose of the Brommel Award is to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the area of family communication. Dr. Wittenberg’s research advances understanding of family communication processes in the context of patient-provider communication, particularly regarding palliative care. With Dr. Joy V. Goldsmith, Dr. Wittenberg extended the classic typology of family communication patterns to health communication, linking each of the family types to specific forms of caregiving.”

As a whole, the faculty of the College of Arts & Letters have been innovating and learning alongside students and working to create a sense of community despite the remote environment. Faculty in the Department of Liberal Studies, for example, are using collaborative online reading tools, videos and regular check-ins to create community for their students this fall. Department Chair Dr. Mike Willard shares that his department is committed to finding new ways to provide spaces for social connection and engaging learning in the virtual classroom environment. “For our students to feel like they are getting the best learning experience possible, the primary directive of staying connected and making space for checking in and social engagement is foundational—I think everything else comes from that.” You can read more from Jillian Beck’s interview with Dr. Willard here.

Our staff have been in on the act too! Elizabeth Pietrzak, technical director for the College’s performing arts facilities, has been recording safety videos for use by students in Daniel Czypinski’s stagecraft classes. You can learn about how to operate scene shop tools by visiting Elizabeth’s Playlist of Safety Training Videos.

Finally, it’s time to put together the 2020-21 Dean’s Student Advisory Council! The council meets once per month to discuss issues of student interest directly with the Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. I often share new initiatives and ideas to gain student feedback in these meetings as well. Obviously, all of our meetings will be via Zoom. If you would like to be involved, apply here no later than September 18.

That’s all for now!

Stay well,
Linda Essig
Dr. Linda Essig, Dean