A Note From the Dean
Looking Forward to the New Century
Greetings from Turlington Plaza, the hub of our college and indeed of the University of Florida.
This year has been one of the most unusual we have experienced in the last decade. First, the size of the entering class of freshmen was well above expectations. Second, we are facing a major change in the governance of the university with the sun setting on the Board of Regents and the current State University System. These developments represent opportunities for change and the chance to make a quantum leap forward in our drive to become one of the top ten public institutions in the next ten years.
The most impressive development at CLAS is the increasing level of excellence of our entering students. By all measures of quality--SAT scores, grade point averages, number of National Merit Scholars choosing to attend UF--our students are better prepared, more competitive, and more worldly-wise than ever before. Not only is this development engendering exciting challenges at CLAS today, it also bodes well for the university's future. Ultimately, these outstanding students will represent the university when they graduate and assume leadership positions throughout the state and the nation.
Many of the incoming students are attracted to the prominent new initiatives being developed in CLAS in which our faculty are unequivocal national leaders. For instance, CLAS scientists are leading the way in developing a new high-speed computer network that will link 16 top research universities for the exchange and sharing of large data files (see story "UF Leads the Way"). Such a network is crucial to many cutting edge areas of research and study including astrophysics, genome sequencing, and preserving and providing access to historical records and images from biomedicine to ancient scrolls. Access to and interaction with such materials will allow our students to work and compete with the best scholars anywhere.
Another new initiative of note is the recently established Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI). Scientists working at LUECI use modern Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technologies to study large tracts of land and their use over long periods of time. A major goal of this initiative is to understand better the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of land use and climate change on large-scale environments such as the coastal areas of Florida, the Amazon River basin, and rain forests. LUECI will also provide unique educational opportunities to train students (both undergraduate and graduate from all across the US) who want to specialize in the new technologies of GIS, remote sensing, and computer cartography.
These new endeavors in CLAS and similar endeavors across campus (e.g., the UF Genetics Institute and the McKnight Brain Institute) attest that UF is becoming more competitive on both the national and international frontiers of research and education. The settling of the top leadership of the university in the last month gives us the stability and the additional momentum needed to push ahead vigorously with our new programs. I am very confident about the future of CLAS and UF as a whole. There is no doubt that we can be a great college and a great university in every sense of the term.
--Neil Sullivan, Interim Dean