Dean Ladusaw Shares Spring Awards Welcome Address

May 10, 2012

On Thursday, May 3, 2012, Dean of Humanities William A. Ladusaw delivered an enthusiastic Spring Awards Welcome Address to a standing-room-only audience of students, family members, faculty, and staff. Key messages included increasing understanding of the human experience, celebrating our work with students, and transformative teaching and learning in the Liberal Arts.

Dean Ladusaw’s Welcome Address follows.

We’re here to celebrate our colleagues and our work—of increasing understanding of the human experience. 

We do this in a number of ways, by doing a number of things. 

By ensuring that what counts as the record of human experience is broad and deep, both by preservation and work to bring into view elements that might otherwise be lost or erased.

By celebrating the continuing relevance of some big questions and perennial problems.  Helping people to become as content with savoring the complexity of questions and issues as grabbing ready answers.

By revealing for inspection, and therefore questioning the presuppositions that underlie received wisdom (or foolishness), to help to imagine a world with more of the former and less of the latter.

One of the distinctive pleasures of this life is the richness of the community devoted to these goals.  We will hear about some of that richness by focusing on a few exemplars, knowing that they exemplify a tradition of value that is worth working hard to maintain. 

And so it is fitting that we begin with the impact of our work in teaching and learning.  Over the last two years I have spent a fair amount of time talking to Humanities alumni and supporters out there beyond the margins of this forest about what aspects of their education at UCSC was most important to their success, and what we should (in these challenging times) work hardest to sustain.

There are some general themes:

  • The faculty took me and my ideas seriously.
  • They interacted with me as someone who actually had a mind. 
  • They stretched me and challenged me; they expected me to take responsibility for my work.
  • They opened my mind and my perspective to things I had no idea existed.

These are stories of the transformative effect of learning, and therefore of the effective of transformative teaching. 

This is a matter on which UCSC faculty generally, and Humanities faculty in particular, are very committed—and so very challenged in the face of what we are grappling with as the budget crisis has unfolded. 

For that reason it is particularly important to celebrate the continued success in working with our current students in ways that they find as transformative for them as it has been for their predecessors. 

William A. Ladusaw

Dean of Humanities