SAS Dean’s Blog

Dean's Blog: Exploring, Connecting and Imagining

Steven J. Fluharty

Steven J. Fluharty

Dean and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience

As a kid who grew up coming to Penn for basketball games and visits to the museum, it’s fair to say that Penn has always been an important part of my life. Even so, when I stepped onto campus in the 1970s as a new undergraduate with visions of majoring in English, I had no idea what doors would be open to me.

What I learned then was the tremendous possibilities that are part of a liberal arts education at Penn, and the many paths that allow students to connect with faculty across the University. Those opportunities were transformative for me, and that’s just as true for our students today. Penn is unique for the connections it makes across the basic academic disciplines and our professional schools, with our shared resources, interdisciplinary faculty and centers, and more—and the School of Arts and Sciences lies at the heart of it all. I’m honored, excited, and somewhat humbled as I take on my new role as the School’s dean.

I’m stepping into this position with an understanding of the School that has developed naturally through my many years of engagement as a teacher, researcher, and administrator. But I am a scientist by training, and so my initial agenda is going to include some fresh research. In the coming weeks I’ll be meeting with faculty, students, alumni, and colleagues across the University, listening to their perspectives on the School’s strengths and challenges, and using this process to inform a vision for the School’s future. Thanks to the work of my predecessor, Rebecca Bushnell, I know that we have many resources at our disposal: our exceptional faculty and staff, a dedicated leadership team, a large network of friends and supporters, and committed partners across Penn. I look forward to working with all of them, and to sharing our progress with you.