The following message was sent from Dean Kate VandenBosch to CALS faculty, staff and graduate students on Sept. 7:
With the start of the fall semester, I want to send a warm welcome to the CALS community.
We begin this year with plenty of good news. If you read eCALS on August 20, you know that we are going to hire at least twelve new faculty this year. My goal is to continue to grow our total faculty numbers, and Chancellor Blank has supported that goal by providing some funding for faculty hires over the next three years.
In addition, we continue to offer popular and robust academic programs to our students. The chancellor has challenged us to increase enrollment and evaluate our undergraduate programs that have become less popular with today’s students. I hope to grow enrollment by 25 percent by FY23. I am working closely with Karen Wassarman, associate dean of academic affairs, and her staff to enhance student experiences.
We are addressing undergraduate programs through the CALS Organizational Redesign process. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to prepare students for careers in life sciences, natural resources and agriculture. In a recent message to undergraduate students, I let them know that, despite possible changes to future undergraduate academic offerings, their path to graduation within their chosen major will not change. UW-Madison policy ensures that students can complete any major into which they were admitted. Because majors are so fundamental, the university takes the time to carefully consider changes and it takes several years to launch a new program or even change an existing one.
Other structural changes being discussed will also take time. You may have heard that we have two departments considering a possible merger. Animal sciences and dairy science are exploring the possibility of becoming one department. As part of these considerations, I don’t anticipate changes to the animal sciences or dairy science majors. While the exploration is taking place, I will engage with faculty, staff and students from both departments to hear their thoughts about the future.
This semester, I will also work closely with other departments that are planning to form collaboratives. A collaborative unit is comprised of at least two departments working together while maintaining some departmental autonomy. Examples of collaborative activities could include a shared academic program or curriculum, joint revenue-generating instructional programs, shared administrative structure or partnering on hiring.
I know that change is difficult, so it is important to keep in mind that the core of what we do will stay the same. We will remain true to our signature strengths and the key partnerships that inspire and sustain us. CALS will continue to conduct cutting-edge research; offer students a world-class education, including hands-on research and internship experiences; and address global grand challenges through applied research and outreach.
Thank you for being part of this great learning community and vibrant institution where we can learn about and make important contributions to the agricultural and life sciences. I value and respect what each of you bring to the table and appreciate your efforts to make CALS as strong as possible.
I wish you a fruitful semester and invite you to share any questions or concerns you may have.
Looking forward to another great year of discovery and learning,
Kate VandenBosch, Dean