Message From the Dean
Unmasking Innovation: An Evening with George W. Bush
Arts & Sciences had its first gala celebrating the College in Dallas on Thursday April 26. Our featured guest was President George W. Bush. The event attracted more than 500 alumni, friends and guests including TTUS Chancellor Duncan, TTU President Schovanec, TTUHSC President Mitchell, and TTUS Regents Lancaster, Long and Lewis. President Bush held the floor for an hour, answering questions posed by Emily Jones, A&S alumnus and the sideline reporter for the Texas Rangers. VIP ticker holders had their picture taken with the President and every guest received a signed copy of the President's book, Portraits of Courage, showcasing his paintings of U.S. military members.
The event was awesome. The organizational efforts of Cathey Durham and Colleen Sisneros resulted in a flawless event. Blayne Beal, together with Rawe Yeats Media Group, used an amazing audio visual presentation to emcee the event through the evening. A&S student ambassadors and staff were on hand to greet guests. Members of the A&S Dean's Circle interacted with guests. At the end we presented President Bush with a Texas Tech baseball jersey (courtesy of our baseball team) with the back labelled "Bush 43". A short video clip of the event can be seen at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/artsandsciences/giving/bushGala2018.php.
May commencement is upon us. Our awarded degree numbers continue to grow. In May 2017 A&S awarded 844 bachelor degrees (up from 745 in May 2016). This May we will be awarding 969 bachelor degrees. In May 2019 we anticipate over 1,000 bachelor degrees. May commencement typically represents 50% of our awarded undergraduate degrees. December commencement accounts for an additional 30% (546 bachelor degrees in Dec. 2017) and summer the remaining 20% (306 in Aug. 2017). We anticipate over 160 Master's degrees to be awarded this May, again this generally represents 50% of our yearly Master degree awards. Interestingly, the largest percentage of our PhD awards occur in August.
As we prepare for the 2018-2019 school year, the three pillars of Texas Tech University's Strategic Plan, A Foundation for the Next Century / A Pathway to 2025, are front and center. As a university and as individuals, we look to educate and empower a diverse student body, to enable innovative research and creative activities, and to transform lives and communities through strategic outreach and engaged scholarship. But what is engaged scholarship? How is it different from community outreach? How does it differ from service?
Dr. Patricia Solis, the co-Director for the Center for Geospatial Technology and the founder of YouthMappers has a nice explanation: "The process of engaged scholarship is not like a conventional research proposal, where from the outset you say everything you're going to do, every part of the research plan; you have the whole timeline." It's the word, process, that is the key. Engaged scholarship generally involves a process of collaboration with a community, that at some point on the arc of the project, has funding coming in (or the potential thereof), and peer-reviewed publications going out. YouthMappers, a network of student mappers that uses GIS tools to aid development projects in a number of countries across the world, is flexible and responsive, engaging in a process of constant collaboration with USAID and other organizations to develop research questions and objectives from the ground up to reflect the needs of community stakeholders. YouthMappers is just one of the many ongoing projects in A&S that embodies the spirit of engaged scholarship. The work of Dr. Jill Patterson in the English Department as a Case Storyteller for attorneys representing indigent persons charged with capital murder provides an excellent example of the sort of trailblazing scholarship in Narrative Law that simply would not exist without that process of collaboration. The collaboration of the Climate Science Center with cotton farmers to improve crop yields is another.
Often, developing engaged scholarship is a matter of looking at upcoming opportunities in a broader context and identifying those with the most potential for collaboration with community stakeholders. A common concern is that opening up our research efforts to the community will somehow harm our ability to publish impactful research or win funding. In most cases, the opposite is true. For example, the Climate Science Center - cotton farmers collaboration often serves as a core "impact" component of grant proposals. Similarly, Dr. Solis's work with YouthMappers enables a tight integration of research and education efforts, enabling parallel publishing tracks in pedagogical research, sustainable development, and geosciences literature.
Whether speaking of the National Science Foundation's emphasis on broader impacts and, in a number of larger grants, stakeholder outreach, or a submission to one of our local, community-oriented foundations, engaged scholarship can be both opportunity and difference-maker. It deepens TTU's century-long tradition of community engagement, and makes us better scholars and educators in the process. Because community stakeholders are brought in as partners, the ultimate structure is harder to predict in advance, but that is also the excitement of it.
W. Brent Lindquist
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences