SAS Dean’s Blog

New Faces, New Directions

Steven J. Fluharty

Steven J. Fluharty

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

Greetings as the 2013-2014 academic year begins at Penn Arts and Sciences. Over the summer my desk moved a few dozen yards to the east in College Hall, as I made the transition from the Provost's office to the deanship of SAS. I am honored to be in the distinguished company of the School's faculty, students, and staff. These early months in my new role have underscored for me what I have long known: that SAS is an extraordinary academic community.

I am not the only new member of the School's administration; I am delighted to be joined by a new Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Eve Troutt Powell of History and Africana Studies. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting the outstanding group of new SAS standing faculty, about whom you may read here. We are also welcoming a talented cohort of new students: The College Class of 2017 is enjoying its first days of university life, and new graduate students have entered programs across the School.

This year I’ll be engaging the SAS community in a strategic planning process to chart a path for building on our existing foundation of excellence. You will be hearing more about that process in the coming months. It will be a busy year in many ways. Our undergraduate programs will continue their efforts to implement assessment plans with the goal of improving curricula and pedagogy. We will keep exploring the potential of online learning, through both the College of Liberal and Professional Studies and Coursera. This fall will also see the formal opening of the Singh Center for Nanotechnology (an SAS/Engineering partnership) and the launch of construction on the long-awaited Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building. Thanks to a generous gift announced last winter from Ronald O. Perelman, planning has begun for the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, which will provide a new home at the corner of 36th and Walnut Streets for two of our core social science departments.

I am looking forward not simply to meeting as many members of the SAS community as I can over the coming year, but to working together with all of you to shape a framework for an even stronger school in the years to come. In the meantime, you have my best wishes as you begin the new semester.