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Dear colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences,

In my first communication to you back in July, I wrote that I believed that for the College to work as effectively and efficiently as possible, we needed to trust one another, and that I needed to earn your trust. I pledged to do so by being honest and transparent in my communications. I am following up today to expand on that message.

I have spent the past three months meeting with department chairs and faculty, touring buildings and facilities, attending lectures, plays and other events, and generally getting to know the culture of the College. Very successful colleges, such as ours, have their own secret sauce. I’ll share with you my thoughts on what I think are Carolina’s in another message, but one ingredient I will share with you now is this: The affection for the College and University that I have witnessed among the faculty, staff, students and alumni is remarkable — truly a treasure to be safeguarded.

Trust is essential. When we work together, we work more effectively and accomplish more, and we can’t work together effectively unless we trust one another. Universities should be places where difficult subjects are routinely discussed and aired, and so we often find ourselves in controversy. Those controversies are far more manageable when we approach them as a team and in an atmosphere of mutual trust.

My overall goal for the College is to preserve what is working well and improve on what needs improving. I will be reaching out to members of the community regularly to find out what you think is working well and what elements need improving.

As for what needs our attention now, in my conversations with department chairs and faculty, common themes are emerging. COVID’s toll on our faculty, staff and students needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Our faculty gave so much to keep the College and University going during the past two-plus years; they need time to process and heal, and we need to give them the space and support to do that. Our staff are in the same situation, and we struggle to keep them here. We know that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, who are typically the primary caregivers in a family. I’m hearing concerns about the long-term effects of career and research pauses. Our undergraduate students sometimes feel underprepared for new academic challenges and struggle with the impacts of lost in-person interactions. Our graduate students, who balance academics, research and teaching responsibilities, face unique pressures, notably financial ones, and would benefit from increased financial support.

These are all complex problems, and if there were easy solutions, they would have been remedied long ago. But I do want you to know that I am actively listening and actively planning ways to address them. The Dean’s Office team in South Building is here for you as we endeavor to make progress on these challenges.



James W.C. White
Craver Family Dean
College of Arts and Sciences

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