Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2003

A Note from the Dean


CLAS honors the past and helps shape the future

SullivanGreetings from Turlington Plaza! During the first few months of 2003, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has engaged actively in a number of exciting new ventures, many of which are part of the University of Florida's strategic plan. These activities are especially significant this year since they coincide with UF's sesquicentennial, celebrating 150 years of academic excellence by "honoring the past, shaping the future."

Our new ventures are creating innovative and new programs that are among the best in the nation in their areas. In the field of astronomy and space sciences, UF has carefully nurtured its program, developing it from the first radio observatory in 1956 to the national reputation for excellence the program enjoys today. Past investment allowed UF to become a world leader in observational astronomy, developing an expertise in infra-red detection. Now we continue to build on our accomplishments by developing a partnership with Spain to construct on the Canary Islands the world's largest optical telescope. In recognition of UF's investment in excellence in this field, the university recently was invited to join the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a select group of 29 US institutions and six international affiliates.

In the past, UF's funding of basic research in biology, chemistry, and genetics supported the training of scholars like Marshall Nirenberg, who won the Nobel Prize in 1968 for his work in explaining the mysteries of genetics. More recently, the university has created the UF Genetics Institute, which fosters collaborative, interdisciplinary research in medicine, chemistry, engineering, agriculture and ethics, including making important advances in bioinformatics. For the future, the college is gaining strength in plant genetics with prominent participation in the National Science Foundation's multi-national Floral Genome Project, which looks at the architecture of flowers from 100 million years ago to determine what genes are responsible for flower production in plants today.

In the humanities, the college is busy expanding its already-strong international focus. In the past, our humanities programs in literature, sociology, languages, and the political sciences have made significant investments in creating opportunities for international learning, including the Center for African Studies, established in 1965, and the newly created France-Florida Research Institute. We continue to build on these programs, garnering a renewed international visibility with our college's numerous conferences and programs sponsored by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. The college plans to endow a director of the center, which will serve as a magnet to attract famous scholars, writers, philosophers and historians who are especially relevant today as we search for more meaningful ways to teach our students about different societies and cultures in an ever more concentrated global environment.

The first steps of our college in developing UF's strategic plan are prime drivers in advancing the academic core of the institution. The future of our state depends critically on developing the skills, technology and international awareness that are needed to build a more diversified and stable economy. Florida needs a strong university institution that will provide the leadership, energy and ideas for the next generation of industries and services. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the University of Florida are helping shape this future.

--Neil Sullivan, Dean
sullivan@phys.ufl.edu


Photo:
Jane Dominguez

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Friday, 13-Aug-2010 14:22:03 EDT