I am delighted to welcome you to the 2019-2020 Academic Year! As I am entering my “sophomore” year as Dean I am happy to be firmly part of the CSUN family that can introduce you to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
The beginning of a school year was one of my favorite rituals as a child. I liked the excitement of back to school shopping and rekindling relationships at the start of the year. That feeling never gets old for me. Also what I am drawn to is the possibility of the school year. It is the possibility that stirs my excitement. That possibility greets us at the beginning of 2019-20 in CSBS.
The possibility lies in the experiences of students who renew their dedication to academic achievement. It lies in the expertise of faculty who usher students through the learning process. Possibility also rests with staff who are united in mission to provide support to students as they reach academic goals. Possibility also lies with faculty research and creative activity and with the generativity of new academic programs, initiatives, and exchanges. The unknown may be unsettling to many, but for me it is the unknown potential that rests within those of the College that stirs my soul.
It was stirred this week by an email from a student who shared about her experience here in CSBS and CSUN. She was clarifying a response to my question about why she chose to study anthropology. She wrote:
What did I learn in my first year at CSUN? -- to challenge and unravel my own paradigms, to seek the perspectives of others, to understand real-world problems on an intellectual level, to apply specific methods toward this understanding, and to question those methods. Most pointedly, my experience here so far has been a philosophical journey, except, instead of studying ancient Greek philosophers in a remote way, I learn from humans themselves and from the paradigms associated with the history of approaches to learning, including the very ethnocentric ideas the discipline of anthropology is trying to unravel.
Anthropology is beautiful because it is whatever your imagination allows it to be. There are no limits to the study of humans, because human potential is unlimited. It is only when we have expectations or subscribe wholeheartedly to theories and methodologies do we find limitations. A theory can say a lot about groups or collectives, but it says nothing about individuals.
I have reread Donna Crilly’s response several times. It aptly captures the academic journey and the transformative process of higher education. I offer that essentially all the majors and programs in CSBS lead to such a destination. Beauty is found here.
You will hear and read about our CSBS Student Success efforts. Student academic achievement has always been a priority. To that priority we have added greater attention by providing supports outside of the classroom to assist students to meet the standards that top tier graduate programs require, to meet the expectations of employers, and to meet individualized academic and entrepreneurial goals.
We continue to place students first, engage community, involve alumni and expand our global reach. This year begins planning for a new classroom building and a renovation of Sierra Hall which aims to house all of the CSBS Departments under one roof. The possibilities are endless.
I want to acknowledge the contributions and dedication of two long-serving members of the Office of the Dean – Joy Bartley (External Affairs and Event Planning) and Pamela Simon (Director of Finance and Operations). Joy has moved to the Office of the Provost and Pam has announced her retirement. Between them they have served over 30 years. They share integrity and meticulousness and have shaped this college. We are better because of them and wish them the best.
Welcome to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and welcome to a new year of possibilities.
Yan Dominic Searcy, Ph.D.