SCHOOL OF LIBERAL ARTS
First in size by the number of degrees conferred, second by the number of faculty, and home to academic programs in areas ranging from Ancient Greek to Digital Media Production, Tulane University’s School of Liberal Arts unites time-honored traditions in higher education with its most newly imagined areas of investigation. The School of Liberal Arts’ departments in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences constitute the core of Tulane University, the intellectual space where faculty and students alike explore individual and collective experiences as well as creations of humanity. Grounded in a common commitment to rigorous critical thinking and free inquiry, the academic community is built on a professorial corps whose members have received training in the most demanding programs in their fields and have come together at Tulane University to transmit and produce knowledge in collaboration with new generations of students. This mission is supported by dedicated professional staff, many of whom are also students or alumni of Tulane. The breadth of subjects and methods notwithstanding, the academic community is also intimate for a research university, with slightly fewer than 200 tenured and tenure-track faculty, many of whom live in the surrounding neighborhood. Indeed, the School of Liberal Arts is recognizable as a place within the Uptown Campus; faculty work in geographical proximity of each other, in Tulane University’s most historic buildings, next to student housing, close to the main library, and side by side with its vibrant interdisciplinary centers.
While the School of Liberal Arts constitutes Tulane University’s richly textured core, it is also one of its most recent administrative creations, a result of the university’s post-Katrina Renewal Plan. Born of necessity, the School of Liberal Arts is engaged now in a process of self-discovery. Departments are rethinking their priorities, interdisciplinary programs are receiving additional attention, faculty members are exploring new ways of grouping their research interests, and the Dean’s office is organizing a diversity audit this year. This initial work of redefinition will enable faculty to make the biggest possible contribution to the creation of knowledge and development of new scholars, in ways that take full advantage of the unit’s new autonomy. The permanent Dean of the School of Liberal Arts will thus be in a position to undertake meaningful strategic planning during the next academic year, this at the head of a community of highly successful faculty who stand, committed to their research and their students, at the center of one of the country’s most demanding institutions in higher education.