After the past two years, we all know the feeling of unexpected change.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced each of us to adjust how we live and work almost overnight. Political and social movements have made waves through public life, testing the strength of our communities. And the global economy shows signs of long-term shifts that we won’t fully recognize for years to come.
One of the most surprising changes that I experienced during this period came in December 2020, when the University of South Carolina provost asked me to serve as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. This development was wholly unexpected — a legal scholar and law professor usually is not on the radar to lead a college of arts and sciences. But my roots are in the disciplines at the heart of our college, and I see this college as a vital part of the university’s past, present and future.
I accepted the appointment as interim dean on one condition — that I was not being asked to serve as a caretaker dean who would simply oversee the college during a transition. I did not want to stay the course. I wanted the charge to work with students, alumni, faculty and staff to move the college forward. As so many things change around us, it is vital that we strengthen the College of Arts and Sciences — the heart and soul of the University of South Carolina — and make changes for the good of our community.
The college is moving forward on several strategic objectives, but I’d like to call attention to one area where I hope you will notice significant, immediate changes. We are revitalizing our advancement organization with new staff and new strategies in communications, alumni relations and development. This means you will see your fellow alumni and your departments represented more often on social media and in other communications.
Much as you will be hearing from us, we want to hear from you. As the largest college at the University of South Carolina, we have more alumni than any other unit — more than 70,000 proud graduates. You are the most diverse group of alumni anywhere in the university. You are marine biologists, dancers, medical professionals, social workers, artists, policy makers, engineers, astronomers, researchers, educators — and so much more. Despite the differences in your academic disciplines and your careers, I believe your collective story represents how a broad arts and sciences education prepares people to improve their communities.
I hope you enjoy the stories from this magazine, which highlight a few College of Arts and Sciences graduates and students who exemplify scholarship, service and ingenuity. Please follow the college on LinkedIn or other social networks to stay in touch. And, as always, we welcome hearing about your stories and accomplishments.
Forever to thee,
Joel H. Samuels
This letter was part of the College of Arts and Sciences Fall 2021 alumni magazine. To read more stories from this magazine, visit go.sc.edu/CASMagazine.