SAS Dean’s Blog

A New Year and a New Era for SAS

Rebecca Bushnell

Rebecca Bushnell

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of English

The spring semester has begun, though in Philadelphia in January it hardly feels like spring. I feel the cold more acutely right now, since I have just returned from my annual winter trip to Asia, this time to India and Singapore. There the weather was warm and humid, and exotic flowers bloomed everywhere.

I’ve always enjoyed these trips in mid-winter, and not just for the change in climate. What make the deepest impression every time are the warmth and enthusiasm of the Penn alumni and parents in the cities I visit: this time, Mumbai, New Delhi and Singapore. Eduardo Glandt, the dean of the School of Engineering, and I spoke at an event for the Penn Club in Mumbai, with 200 enthusiastic guests from every Penn school and generation. Penn’s and SAS’s connections with South and East Asia have never been stronger: Admissions numbers are up, our faculty are collaborating with their peers in research centers and universities around the region, and we are building relationships that will continue to grow for years to come.

At the same time, it is always good to get home, and to the excitement of a new semester. Despite the cold, the campus is buzzing, with students in new classes, embarking on fresh ideas and projects. Searches for new faculty members are fully underway, and we have already recruited some very promising young stars who will arrive on campus next fall. And of course, the big news of the semester is the announcement of the appointment of a new dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Steven Fluharty. You can read all about Steve here. You will see there that he is a Penn person through and through, with deep experience of this university, at every level, and in multiple schools.  What you can’t tell from reading the announcement is just how truly thrilled I am by this appointment.

I have known Steve for many years and have worked most closely with him in his capacity as Executive Vice Provost for Research. He has shown himself to be a leader who is both collaborative and decisive. Penn administrators, faculty and students alike both like and respect him. When I return to full-time teaching and research in July, I know the school will be in very good hands with Steve Fluharty as its new dean. I am sure you will join me in celebrating this appointment.