The first issue of CAS Spotlight was published while Dr. Thomas Connery was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The purpose of Spotlight has always been to shine a light on the excellent work of the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the College. During her five years as dean, Dr. Marisa Kelly continued this work. I am now the third dean to write in this space.

Each time we plan an issue of CAS Spotlight we must decide where next to shine that light. Our choices are made difficult by the many outstanding projects and accomplishments that could easily fill more than two issues of this publication each year.

In each issue we make a point to include a feature article on the research agenda of one of our 250 full-time faculty members. We shine a light on faculty research because of its importance in a university community. Research expands our understanding of the world, informs our teaching in the classroom and is the perfect venue for engaging students academically outside the classroom.

Recent issues have featured research studies on topics as varied as domestic terrorism, environmental psychology, a Croatian archeological dig, Mexican film, musicians recovering from breast cancer and the “New India.” In this issue, Dr. Wendy Wyatt looks at the role that news stories about blame play in our culture. Future issues might give you the chance to learn about Dr. Magdalena Stolarska’s mathematical models of cancerous tumor growth, or the ongoing investigation by Dr. Kris Wammer and her students into levels of prescription drug residue in Minnesota waterways, or an award-winning study by Dr. Roxanne Prichard on the sleep habits of college students, or Dr. Heather Shirey’s study of artwork associated with the little-known African-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. Or perhaps we will feature one of hundreds more research projects that the faculty are pursuing.

Unfortunately, you will never read about most of those research projects because magazine space is limited. In the Highlights section, we summarize dozens of books, book chapters and professional journal articles that CAS faculty members have published, not to mention the many other ways in which they continue to engage in the work of their disciplines.

Every day, our faculty are creating and extending knowledge into many realms. I hope that you enjoy reading about some of these research activities. All of the stories that you read, and so many more, are reasons that I am proud to be the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Following a national search, Dr. Terence Langan was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and holder of the Al and Mary Agnes McQuinn Distinguished Chair, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

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