Greetings from campus! Things are bustling here, in a way that feels markedly different from the past couple of years. While we continue to navigate real challenges in our emergence from the global pandemic, every corner of the college this fall is filled with vibrant energy. It’s hard to find seats at local coffee shops again, and the crosswalks are full during the 10 minutes between classes (drivers on a tight schedule beware!). Both faculty and students tell me how happy they are to be back learning together in classrooms, libraries, labs, offices, and study spaces. I am energized daily by the presence of our brilliant students, faculty, postdocs, and staff.
This fall I also find myself thinking about the verb impact, both as a linguist and as the dean of LSA. The verb has been the source of some grammatical concern over the past few decades; someone once said to me, “Only teeth can be impacted.” But that’s just not true. Since the 1930s, impact has had a figurative meaning: to have a direct or pronounced effect on. It’s not just about teeth or physical objects colliding—and it is essential to what we do in LSA.
Our research impacts our understanding of the human experience, the natural world, and the workings of culture and society. We are doing the science required for technological breakthroughs; we are telling the histories that will help shape our futures; we are informing policy at the state, national, and international level; we are writing the stories and both creating and interpreting the art that help people understand the world from new perspectives; we are unlocking secrets of human brains, languages, social, political, and economic systems, the Earth, and the universe.
Our teaching, advising, and mentoring positively impact thousands of students. LSA’s liberal arts and sciences students learn to transcend the boundaries of any single major or department. They gain knowledge, of course, and as importantly they are empowered to trust and pursue curiosity, with rigor and a sense of purpose.
The students, faculty, staff, and alums featured in this issue of LSA Magazine are using that knowledge and curiosity to identify and solve problems—from unearthing previously untold histories to demystifying a deadly brain cancer. In every field of study and every line of work, they are making an impact.
At LSA, we also continue the important work of making our community ever more diverse and focused on well-being, all while addressing pressing issues such as the war in Ukraine, systemic racism, climate change, the effects of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the evolving impacts of living in a digital world, and so many other things that remind us how important the liberal arts are in our everyday lives. And we strive never to lose our sense of wonder, from the complex beauty of a cell to the power of literature to move hearts and minds.
You, as an alum, have taken all of these lessons with you since graduating. In doing so, you have stretched the impact of an LSA education far beyond our halls and out into the world—our vast, sometimes messy, sometimes contentious, but always wondrous world.
Anne Curzan, Dean
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
The generosity of LSA donors creates new opportunities for learning and innovation as we maintain our deeply held values of exploration, common good, and inclusion. Gifts to the LSA need-based scholarship fund help students by covering costs like tuition, room, and board so they can focus on their education. With your support, we have met the unique obstacles of these last few years and are prepared to greet whatever new challenges might come our way.
Visit our new website for more stories on how LSA is meeting the moment.