Today, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences has much to be proud of, from a nearly century-long history of training students in the liberal arts, to a talented and productive faculty, to an important place at the heart of a rising global city. Our ambitions are high, and so is our potential. There are substantial challenges, to be sure, but they are far outweighed by the opportunities ahead.
In an institution the caliber of Dedman College, excellence can and should be expected of all departments, programs, centers and institutes. Ultimately, the College can attain its potential only if all of its constituent parts are strong, focused and energized. At the same time, we should recognize that investments must be targeted to have the greatest impact and that priorities must be established to achieve our collective goals. Toward this end, over the next five years Dedman College should continue to support its longstanding strengths in the humanities, build the foundations for long-term growth in the natural sciences and prioritize new investments in the social sciences. We also must work to define and strengthen our points of distinction, those degree programs, areas of research specialization and community partnerships that will set Dedman College apart in the highly competitive environment of American higher education today. By moving deliberately in these directions – allocating resources where the promise of immediate returns is the greatest, cultivating a more distinctive institutional identity and laying the broad foundations for future development – we will position Dedman College for leadership within SMU and on the national level.
Realizing the vision of a Dedman College that combines the best of the modern research university with the best of the liberal arts tradition will require commitment and flexibility from faculty and staff, consistency and transparency from College leadership, support and good counsel from students, alumni and the community. It also will demand creative stewardship of the College's existing resources and the development of new sources of financial support for the growth to come. Energizing and mobilizing the Dedman College Executive Board and Campaign Steering Committee will be essential to our success. And, not least, striving for such high goals will take the kind of bold, optimistic audacity that has fired the growth of Dallas and the rise of SMU.
The University's Centennial Strategic Plan affirmed that "the academic stature of SMU will be influenced largely by the overall quality of the departments within the liberal arts and sciences" and concluded that "the University should be able to enhance its quality and stature if, during the Centennial Decade, significant resources are targeted for transformative improvement ... within Dedman College." There can be no doubt that the time for this transformation is now.