The Difference a Year Makes

From the Dean

Dean Sapiro
Virginia Sapiro, Dean of Arts & Sciences

In the past year the College of Arts & Sciences has gone from strength to strength. The ongoing economic challenges that have left many public and private universities facing the prospect of budget cuts and furloughs have proven the resilience of Boston University and the College of Arts & Sciences. In 2009/10, we aggressively recruited and hired outstanding new faculty members, and we attracted one of our best classes of undergraduates ever. We launched the CAS First-Year Experience, a new signature initiative to enhance the experience of our entering classes. Our faculty was enormously successful in attracting research funding and in engaging in research across the humanities and natural and social sciences, enhancing BU’s reputation as a first-class research and teaching university. We witnessed a continuing resurgence of alumni engagement with the College and Boston University more generally.

We achieved all of this and, as you will see, more, while working to parry the threats of the continuing economic crisis as intelligently as any university can. Today’s economic challenges are real: we experience them daily here in CAS, and we know they exert pressure on our students, their parents, our alumni–everyone affiliated with this institution is affected. They require that we operate as efficiently and cost effectively as possible to provide an affordable education to all qualified students. At the same time, we must be able to recruit the best scholars and educators from an increasingly competitive academic pool and provide them and their students the resources needed to stay at the cutting edge in the increasingly competitive arena that is higher education.

Entirely appropriately, then, we joined the rest of Boston University to rise to President Brown’s call to engage in an intensive yearlong strategic planning process. Our task was to determine what we think the CAS of ten years from now should look like and map out a strategy to fulfill our ambitions. Using the framework of the 2007 Boston University strategic plan, Choosing to Be Great, all CAS departments and programs set to work analyzing their future, then collectively we crafted a comprehensive strategic plan for the College, Creating Our Future, 2010–20.

The CAS strategic plan revolves around the clear mission that drives our work. It is embedded in the best of Boston University’s traditions and reaches forward to our tomorrow:

The mission of the College and Graduate School is to nurture the discovery, creation, transmission, and application of knowledge and understanding across the humanities and the social, natural, and computational sciences. This mission applies to all of the College’s members, from the most decorated senior scholars to our matriculating undergraduates, and unifies our three great core tasks of undergraduate education, graduate education, and pioneering research. CAS is Boston University’s standard-bearer for the proud and successful tradition that is liberal education.

In order to fulfill this mission, the students, faculty, and staff of the College must strive to be a vibrant, supportive, and productive learning community across the great diversity of fields, approaches, and experiences encompassed by the institution. We also must choose to be active, engaged citizens of the larger communities to which we also belong—the University, the region, the country, and the world—in order for this mission to succeed.

We framed our path to pursuing this mission through eight fundamental commitments that will guide our choices in the coming years. These fundamental commitments are designed to map onto and help carry the goals identified in the University’s plan, Choosing to Be Great:

  1. We will base our investment of human, financial, and physical capital on carefully developed priorities and a clear-eyed analysis of relevant data and information in the light of changing opportunities and challenges we encounter over time.
  2. We will hire and nurture the careers of faculty members who are world-class leaders in research and scholarship, teaching, and other professional pursuits.
  3. We will provide outstanding undergraduate education based on the principles of liberal education and the liberal arts, encompassing both the curricular or “classroom” experience and the co-curricular, broader life experiences that contribute to student learning, development, and success.
  4. We will offer leading doctoral, postdoctoral, and master's programs within and across traditional disciplinary boundaries.
  5. We will promote pioneering research and scholarship within and across traditional disciplinary boundaries.
  6. We will strengthen our leadership as an urban and global research and teaching university, pursuing our research and educational missions in a manner that values and enhances BU’s citizenship in our local, regional, national, and international communities.
  7. We will manage and enhance our financial resources and physical infrastructure with intelligence and creativity in a manner that supports our primary missions.
  8. We will build wider and stronger connections with our alumni to our mutual benefit, providing our alumni with lifelong opportunities for continuing education, development, and community and ensuring that the Boston University community continues to grow and flourish.

Our ambitions are entirely achievable, but only if we carefully assess our choices and progress against these commitments. The faculty and staff of CAS spent considerable time last year doing just that, assessing the policies, tools, and resources that will be needed to reach these aspirations. The end result of that effort is a comprehensive strategic plan, a roadmap for growth and improvement at CAS for the next five years and a vision of the five years following that. As arduous, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating as that task seemed at the time, it was time well spent. It helped us all reinvigorate our appreciation of what Boston University has accomplished over the years, and what a platform of strength we have; it helped us deepen our shared commitments and goals; and it gave us the opportunity to launch an intelligent process that will culminate in the realization of the goals outlined in the plan.

For that reason, this year’s College of Arts & Sciences annual report is structured around the core commitments of the strategic plan, which demonstrates the progress we made even as we were developing our new plan. I hope you find this annual review – The Difference a Year Makes – as inspirational as I do. Whoever you are – BU faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends – you can play a role in making each year count as a significant improvement in this flagship college of a great research and teaching university.

Annual Report 2009/2010

  • From the DeanFrom the Dean
    In the past year the College of Arts & Sciences has gone from strength to strength.
  • Strengthening the Quality of the Faculty Strengthening the Quality of the Faculty
    The strength and reputation of Boston University and CAS as a world-class teaching and research institution rest on the quality of its faculty.
  • Attracting and Nurturing the Best StudentsAttracting and Nurturing the Best Students
    By maintaining high standards of academic quality and integrity and adhering to the best liberal arts traditions, CAS increasingly is regarded as a prime destination by intelligent and highly motivated students.
  • Strengthening the Student Experience: Focusing on Student SuccessStrengthening the Student Experience: Focusing on Student Success
    The College of Arts & Sciences works hard to attract great students and is committed to making sure they stay once they get here.
  • Strengthening Graduate Education, Research and ScholarshipStrengthening Graduate Education
    Graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences learn that a critical component of their education is the need to apply what they learn to the benefit of their communities.
  • Creating New Scholarly Infrastructure and ConnectionsEnhancing The Research Mission In The College Of Arts & Sciences
    The research trajectory of the College continued its upward climb this year.
  • Strengthening Our Connections to the Community and the WorldStrengthening Our Connections to the Community and the World
    In keeping with the collaborative teaching and research culture that exists across BU, CAS partners in many graduate programs across the University.
  • Managing Our Financial ResourcesManaging Our Financial Resources
    The current economic downturn has had a real impact on resource development initiatives at colleges and universities nationwide.
  • Nurturing Our Connections with Alumni and Friends Nurturing Our Connections with Alumni and Friends
    Strong, vital connections with alumni are critical to our being able to realize the goals we have indentified in our strategic planning and beyond.
  • Celebrating the Class of 2010Celebrating the Class of 2010
    Seniors and their families, faculty, trustees, and other members of the BU community celebrated the 137th Commencement of Boston University at Nickerson Field on Sunday, May 16.
  • AppendixAppendix