Dear Friends of the Krieger School:
It is an honor to write to you as the new James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. I look forward to working with the entire Krieger School community to see to the continued excellence, strength, and growth of the school.
Doing so will mean adhering faithfully to our creed: to choose carefully what is worth pursuing, and then do so without compromise. In view of the school’s current strengths and challenges, over the next few years we must attend to a number of interrelated areas: the continued pursuit of academic excellence, improving the undergraduate experience and attending to campus infrastructure needs, and nurturing a community of diverse learners, scholars, and alumni. (You can read more about these priorities in this news story.)
Supporting our work in the humanities will be a core focus of my deanship, as well as the school’s ongoing fundraising campaign. I am delighted to report that we are finally moving forward with the renovation of Gilman Hall, the school’s flagship building and home to most of the humanities departments. We have selected an architect for the project and expect construction to begin early next year. The renovation is a major component of the school’s fundraising campaign, as are increased endowments for professorships, graduate fellowships, and undergraduate financial aid.
At the same time, we continue to think creatively about the experience of our undergraduates in the humanities. It is essential both to provide exciting academic programming and to nurture the community of humanities students on what is an admittedly science-intensive campus. Our recently instituted Gilman Courses in the Humanities give students the opportunity to explore the offerings of Gilman Hall under the guidance of some of the school’s—indeed, the fields’—most distinguished scholars. Each semester, two Gilman courses, open to all undergraduates without prerequisite requirements, highlight exciting teaching across the breadth of the humanities disciplines. By the end of this calendar year, we will have offered eight such courses, and I could not be more pleased with the program’s success.
We are also developing a new program in Museums and Society, an interdisciplinary initiative that will examine the role of museums and cultural institutions in connecting the scholarship of the humanities fields with our broader society. We envision new courses and internship opportunities along with a formal minor, which we will begin offering in the coming academic year. This is an exciting development that we hope to cover in detail in a future issue of the magazine.
Meanwhile, this issue in many ways highlights exactly the kind of scholarship and community I hope to foster as dean. In celebration of the Mattin Center’s fifth birthday, we have composed a photo essay that shows the incredible array of activities to which the student arts center plays host. Feature stories on Dave Smith, the Elliott Coleman Professor of Poetry and chairman of the Writing Seminars Department, and Assistant Professor Erin Chung, holder of the Charles D. Miller Professorship in East Asian Politics, connect us to the very different worlds of poetry and politics, inspiring a love of language and challenging conventional attitudes about diversity, citizenship, and identity. I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as the magazine’s staff has enjoyed preparing them.
All the best to you for a peaceful and happy spring and summer.
James B. Knapp Dean