Message Sent on Behalf of Dean Jacqueline Mattis
To our faculty, staff and students of SASN,
Welcome to the 2023-24 academic year. To faculty, staff and students who are just joining the SASN family, or who joined us over the summer, we welcome you. To those who have been part of SASN, we welcome you back.
The past academic year was a time of great achievements and challenges. SASN’s faculty saw a record level of success in securing grants as well as competitive fellowships to support their scholarship. Moreover, many of our faculty were recognized nationally and internationally with top prizes in their fields. We launched a new state-funded center, The Center for Politics and Race in America (CPRA). CPRA has already provided seed funds to several faculty to support a range of work from empirical studies of political decision-making, to work on the rise of ideological extremism. We renovated spaces, and hired new faculty and staff to fill critical gaps across our various programs. We completed a Latinx social science cluster hire that will expand our capacities to engage big questions about historical, structural, legal, health, and social-psychological factors that operate in the lives of Latinx families and communities. Despite fiscal challenges we also found new ways to support our faculty with travel funds and with the Dean’s Innovation and Development Awards. Further, in keeping with our commitment to recognize and honor the critical contributions of staff, we reimagined our resources to better support and recognize the excellence of staff across our school.
We completed work on a $2M microbiology teaching lab that will allow us to expand our STEM offerings. We made resources available to support our students through the acquisition of new equipment and the development of new internships and professional development opportunities. In partnership with the Center for Precollege Programs, and with the support of faculty and instructors in various programs (Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Urban Education, the Writing Program) SASN also launched our first summer camps for 8th through 12 graders. These camps emerge out of SASN’s commitments to creating pipeline learning opportunities in and beyond Newark.
These and other successes will yield benefits well into the future. At the same time, we are facing a range of serious challenges—some expected and some new. Like many colleges across the US, we are facing daunting demographic and fiscal challenges. The challenges that we face are serious, and addressing them will require significant sacrifices and dramatic changes in how we function.
In this moment of challenge, I lean on the words of author and Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work—not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job! … This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn't matter … what your position is. …This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.”
Whether students, faculty, or staff, we must all claim our place as creators. Our world is a consequence of our individual and collective thoughts, decisions and actions. We create our world and, ultimately, we are responsible for the world that we create. Creating a thriving and sustainable, 21st century academic environment will require significant sacrifices and very hard choices in the year and years ahead. As a school we must become stealthier and more creative in our use of resources. Despite significant resource constraints, we must ensure that our students have the skills and competencies needed to meet the demands of a rapidly changing global marketplace of ideas and technologies. Achieving these ends will require us to reexamine our curricula, our modes of instruction, our approaches to learning, and our ways of working.
We are artists. We will double down on our capacity for innovation. We will succeed, and we will do this together, because we are stronger that way.
I look forward to a year of good, hard, transformative work!
Dean Jacqueline Mattis
Jacqueline Mattis, PhD
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences (SASN)
Professor of Psychology,
Affiliated faculty: Africana Studies, HLLC, and Honors College
Rutgers University- Newark