The College Magazine - Winter 2001
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FROM THE DEAN

Homecoming: College offers new challenges, familiar charms



      It was 29 years ago that I arrived from India as a graduate student in physics and first set foot in Swain Hall on the IU Bloomington campus. I completed my doctorate and left IU in 1975. Those who have been on this beautiful, wooded campus know that it is only a few hundred yards from Swain West to Kirkwood Hall, where my current office as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences is housed. This journey has taken me half my life and has spanned from California to Kentucky to Florida. I cannot begin to describe how happy I am to be back at this lively university in the heartland.

At right: We Three Deans: Two of his predecessors meet with Kumble R. Subbaswamy, right, the new dean of the College, to welcome him into the fold. Russell Hanson, acting dean for 1999-2000, has returned to teaching in the Department of Political Science, while Morton Lowengrub, center, who was dean from 1988 to 1999, is vice president for academic affairs at Yeshiva University.

"We Three Deans" - from left to right: Russell Hanson, Mort Lowengrub and Kumble R. Subbaswamy

      It was 29 years ago that I arrived from India as a graduate student in physics and first set foot in Swain Hall on the IU Bloomington campus. I completed my doctorate and left IU in 1975. Those who have been on this beautiful, wooded campus know that it is only a few hundred yards from Swain West to Kirkwood Hall, where my current office as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences is housed. This journey has taken me half my life and has spanned from California to Kentucky to Florida. I cannot begin to describe how happy I am to be back at this lively university in the heartland.

      Indiana not only helped launch my career as a physicist and a teacher, it also instilled in me a love of the liberal arts and a commitment to life-long learning. It showed me how a visionary leader like Herman B Wells could create an institution that brings together people from all over the world to learn from one another — not only academic subjects, but also how to live together with mutual respect and appreciation. It helped me realize the importance of leadership and good citizenship, which paved the way for my new position as dean. I am grateful for the chance to pay back some of my debt to my alma mater. One reward of this job is the opportunity to be in touch with the tens of thousands of alumni and friends of the College who share my feelings.

      The excellent faculty and rigorous academic programs continue to attract the best and the brightest students to the College from all over the world. IU’s tradition of excellence continues unabated, and the College presents a world of opportunities to future citizens, scholars, and leaders. Surely enough, like other institutions of learning today, the College faces some challenges during this time of rapid change. I find that the College has already taken steps to meet these challenges and is well prepared to maintain its excellence. The generous financial help of alumni and friends during the capital campaign — in which the College has achieved 190 percent of its goal — has been of critical help to the College.

      What are some of the challenges facing the College? Given that Indiana’s revenue is still heavily dependent on the manufacturing sector, its support of higher education has not kept up with that of IU’s competition. Our faculty is being raided at an unprecedented rate by other universities. The growing interest of undergraduates in professional training has led to a decline in College enrollments. Providing the latest in technology, communication, and laboratory equipment requires substantial new investments.

      The College is vigorously reinforcing the value of a broad-based education in the new economy. Given the rapidly changing nature of the job market, fundamental skills of communication, critical thinking, and a general understanding of societies and cultures are the most valuable assets for today’s graduate. We are reinvigorating our curricula and course work, incorporating the latest research and new developments in technology. We are increasing efforts to help our graduates in finding employment or graduate school placement. Our faculty continues to be entrepreneurial in obtaining external grants to support research and creative activity. The College actively participates in various IU initiatives — such as the new School of Informatics — to help transform the state’s workforce and economy.

      People ask me if I find many changes at IU upon my return. With most of the buildings on the Crescent renovated, the addition of the Arboretum and the soon-to-be-completed Theatre/Neal-Marshall Education Center, the Bloomington campus is even more beautiful than it was 25 years ago! Our academic programs continue to be acclaimed nationally and internationally. Music and cultural activities continue to infuse campus and city life. And basketball continues to evoke extreme passion and create news headlines. I don’t think so much has changed!

-KUMBLE R. SUBBASWAMY


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