Over the course of my career, I have held multiple leadership roles but none so close to my heart as being the dean of Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the heart and soul of Chapman University.
The phrase “heart and soul of Chapman University” has several meanings for me. First, Wilkinson College is the historic liberal arts core of the university from which all subsequent growth originated. Second, Wilkinson College plays a unique role in the educational journey of every Chapman student due to the centrality of the college in the General Education curriculum. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the phrase evokes the vital importance and ongoing relevance of the arts, humanities, and social sciences to understanding our world – how we got here, who we are, and where we are going as a society.
To this end, Wilkinson College has initiated the “Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation” series to promote mindful reflection and thoughtful dialogue around critical social issues of our times. Our first year focused on the significance of race, and next year we will move onto environmental justice. Besides actively demonstrating the present-day applicability of the arts, humanities, and social sciences, these conversations brought to campus (virtually!) individuals who have a passionate commitment to making the world a better place. These conversations underscored the importance of empathy, emotional intelligence – and listening. The insights and reflections of our students and faculty during these conversations never fail to impress – making me thankful for a job that allows me to interact with so many exceptional people.