CLASnotes

A Note From the Dean


A Vision for the Future

DeanThe College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the University of Florida experienced significant changes in 2001. The dissolution of the Board of Regents has given CLAS and UF the promise of a new freedom. This independence has allowed us to set our sights on new initiatives that are designed to bring our college and the university to national eminence in key fields of study.

Our vision is to develop well-chosen areas we believe will propel CLAS into leadership positions, nationally and internationally, that can set UF apart from its competitors. Our intention is to emerge as the research and teaching institution of choice in the South and as a national leader in innovative endeavors. This is an ambitious objective with many challenges, but with the support of our CLAS alumni and friends, the energy and imagination of an exceptional faculty and the high quality of our students, we can certainly achieve it.

The innovative goals we have set include major projects in the arts and sciences, and in research and education. On October 17, we entered into a partnership with Spain to build the world's largest optical telescope, El Gran Telescopio Canarias, on La Palma in the Canary Islands. UF scientists are the world leaders in the design and construction of detectors for 10-meter telescopes and have worked on flagship telescopes in Hawaii and Chile for the US Gemini Program.

The college is also developing the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, which will build on Florida's rich cultural heritage in colonial history, poetry, film studies, applied philosophy and ethics, and modern languages and literature studies. Our goal is to house the center in Newell Hall, where it will be a focal point of excellence for students, faculty members and visitors engaged in instruction and research in the humanities. These topics play a vital role in our society. Expanding the understanding of our diverse heritages, traditions and values is essential to building cooperative world relations that form the very core of our human condition. These efforts are at the intersection of the academy and public life, as we question how beliefs and morals affect everyone, and as our questioning requires us to review the past to better understand the present and prepare for the future. We expect the Center for the Humanities to become a national resource and serve as a magnet to attract the world's leading scholars and writers.

CLAS is also a partner with the health sciences in the UF Genetics Institute. Our scientists are actively engaged in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics, striving to use the knowledge of the human genome to probe the fundamental biological functions of living cells and to understand and cure genetic diseases. The effort involves plant genetics, statisticians, mathematicians, chemists and biochemists working closely with medical researchers. This endeavor also has a important connection to the Center for the Humanities. Ethicists there will work with scientists as together they explore how best to manage the large body of genetic information that will be available in the future.

The test now before us is to see how we respond to these opportunities where we hold the future in our hands. These new initiatives will set CLAS and UF apart from other public institutions and move us clearly on a path toward a higher level of excellence and international recognition.

Neil Sullivan
sullivan@phys.ufl.edu

Photo:
Jane Dominguez

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