Building College Community

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”   -Cesar Chavez

As scholars committed to a just society, many of us work collaboratively to address the issues facing our communities through engaged teaching and scholarship within our departments or schools. This and other common ground also creates opportunities for collaboration across departments. As we discover more about our shared commitments and interests as a college, together we weave threads that fortify us.

Our vision and goals include building a strong college community. I want to thank every one of you investing your creativity and energy in expression of this vision. It is a fact born of our interdependence that we are stronger when we move together. Thank you to all determined to create something through the College of Social Sciences and Communication that is bigger and more powerful than the sum of its parts. This is an exciting aspect of founding a new college together and is a privilege of our work.

Please join your colleagues in these opportunities to continue to find common ground, build relationship, show our pride, and thrive as a collective:

CSSC Common Read ProjectFar from the Tree  (ongoing)

(Contact Avinash Thombre, Joshua Thomsen, or Gerald Driskill)

CSSC Conversation Cafes (ongoing)

(Contact Julien Mirivel)

CSSC Night at Trojan Basketball (February 25)

(Contact Christina Smith)

CSSC Student and Faculty Showcase  (April 6)

(Contact Tusty tenBensel, Iveta Imre, Rachel Tennial, April Chatham-Carpenter, or Amy Barnes)

CSSC Career Day Featuring Alumni and Friends (April 21)

(Contact Julien Mirivel)

CSSC Awards Ceremony (May 2)

(Contact Molly Smith or Mariah Nehus)

With my warmest thoughts and continued appreciation, Lisa

CSSC Alumni and the Dean’s Community Advisory Committee

I have had the opportunity so far this year to meet many of our alumni and donors. We established an alumni listserv making it possible to connect more broadly. I enjoy hearing stories about their time at UALR. Clearly, our faculty are the heroines and heroes in their UALR stories. They tell of meaningful professor-student relationships, unconditional support, active learning, and high expectations. They describe the knowledge of our faculty members as grounded in experience and on the cutting edge of their fields. They convey UALR experiences of personal transformation and effective professional preparation. As you know, many of our alumni are serving in leadership roles in the public, non-profit, media, and business sectors of the city and state.

Our alumni are motivated not just by service to their larger communities and Arkansas. They truly desire to contribute to the continued success of UALR, the college, and our academic programs. This desire manifests in their contributing to existing scholarships, establishing new scholarships, lending expertise to the classroom, providing internship or service learning opportunities, serving on program advisory boards, and collaborating on grants and contracts. More recently, those asked have enthusiastically agreed to serve on the CSSC Dean’s Community Advisory Committee.

The alumni with whom I speak are excited about the new college. They think it makes sense. Their work experience underscores the value of everything that we do across CSSC. For example, many, in their leadership or other professional roles describe themselves using knowledge and skill in data collection, data analysis, motivation and persuasion, social change, strategic communication, grant writing, web-based communication, fund raising, report writing, public speaking, organizational communication, and legal and policy analysis. They express an understanding of the synergies and potential for collaboration across our CSSC student and faculty bodies because they experience this integration in their daily work.

I continue to work with the folks in Advancement to build the membership of the CSSC Dean’s Community Advisory Committee. I will share the names and affiliations of the members with you before we break for the academic year. I anticipate an introductory meeting in May and our first official Community Advisory Committee meeting as a group in the Fall. I look forward to working with you to showcase to the membership the latest work of our faculty, staff, and students. They are committed to showing their appreciation by helping us to promote the college, continue to build partnerships, and raise funds to support our initiatives. They believe in what we do as educators and scholars. That is the greatest reward.



Dean’s Update on CSSC Progress to Date – Provost’s Resource Realignment Recommendations

Hello CSSC Community.  I am hoping through this post to bring everyone up to date on the progress we are making together in the implementation of the Provost’s Resource Realignment Recommendations. There are some general, UALR recommendations in which we are directly involved. And there are recommendations specific to our college. If this update sparks ideas or questions for you, please let me know. I sincerely appreciate any and every one who is working to create a strong college and sustainable programs in our departments and schools. Lisa


  1. Lecturer budget reduction 46% across UALR, increase caps, and schedule based on student need (and use dashboards to improve)

Our lecturer budget was permanently reduced by 34.9% effective FY 16. We began preparing for this immediately in Summer, 2014 and collaborated with all departments to bring our allocations in line with our inevitable reduction (based on enrollment trends). We continue to partner with Chairs and Directors to balance student need with budget realities. We have made these changes without significant negative impact on our SSCH generation. We implemented student-driven course scheduling. We are challenged to work as a college community to find ways to increase our student to full-time faculty ratios, increase caps where possible, and use eLearning funds strategically.

  1. Streamline and integrate course offerings within and among colleges

We are working within the college on two fronts: a) the coordination of core course offerings across days and times to maximize enrollment and reduce duplication within a core focus area; and b) exploration of opportunities to offer student majors flexibility in their required undergraduate statistics course by coordinating across departments. We will also have representation on two university committees forming: the first to examine streamlining of courses with the law school; and the second to examine methods and statistics offerings across campus.

  1. Consolidate student service resources at college level and explore collaboration across colleges

We are focused on the consolidation of student serving resources at the college level. We were granted two unfunded student-serving positions in CSSC last fiscal year. We are hopeful that permanent funding for these positions is forthcoming this fiscal year. We are also developing a student peer mentor program for drop-in students in the Link. Our student service efforts are focused on our greatest needs: a) increasing the number of students in our academic programs; b) supporting academic advisors in our departments; and c) retaining our students.

  1. Expand online and hybrid programs/courses

We have been working for just over a year to increase online course offerings across our departments in order to increase flexibility in academic scheduling and toward degree completion. Our online course offerings continue to grow. The Rhetoric and Writing Department is active in moving undergraduate and graduate degrees to full availability online (pending approvals). Other departments will submit Letters of Notification this year to offer academic programs online.

  1. Combine and share teaching labs

It is clear that the creation of the new college and the division of instructional labs created an opportunity for us to streamline, combine, and more fully support the number of instructional labs we need. We now have full information about our facilities, capabilities, and needs. We are taking one small teaching lab offline this spring (SH 403) by moving courses to RH 410. The Psychology Department faculty opened their statistics tutoring lab to all CSSC majors. We upgraded teaching labs in the School of Mass Communication and Rhetoric and Writing. We will continue to explore opportunities to share space and increase efficiency.

  1. Expand collaborations with 2 year institutions

The Bachelor of Applied Science moved to CSSC effective Fall, 2015. It is primarily a degree completion program for students graduating with an AS degree. We are growing our BAS 2+2 partnerships across the state and are working with Lisa Davis on conversations with four institutions this month and next. We will be convening a faculty committee to explore further integration of our CSSC major curricula with the BAS. We continue to offer courses at UALR Benton and are exploring offerings at UALR Texarkana. We will begin the process of meeting with counterparts in our feeder institutions on strategies to assist their students to best prepare for their desired major at UALR. We will also discuss 2+2+2 agreements with our programs with both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

  1. Create advisory board for each unit

Annie Wright is assisting our Chairs/Directors to reinvigorate the advisory committees already in existence for a few of our programs. Other departments are discussing the formation of an advisory committee. We are forming the Dean’s Community Advisory Committee this year (spring). Toward this end I have been visiting with alumni, donors, and other friends of the college.

  1. Increase noncredit course offerings

A group of our staff and faculty is working to coordinate a collaborative proposal with interested parties across UALR for non-credit bearing workforce development program funding through the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

  1. Encourage academic administrators to teach

I am a contributing co-instructor in our FYE course as part of our CSSC Interdisciplinary Experiential Cohort (IEC) this semester. I am grateful for all interactions with our students and we are slowly forming the structure of a student ambassador program for the college.


  1. Create new school and rethink the MPA

The planning for the new school and the reimagining of our public service unit(s) is underway. Joe Giammo is leading two planning committees (governance and curriculum; operations and structure) and Sarah Beth Estes is leading the planning committee for public service. The involved primary units have also begun the process of holding informal and formal meetings together. Under the leadership of Jerry Stevenson, the Masters in Public Administration was recently re-accredited and is experiencing an uptick in enrollment. It is clear that one of our greatest strengths and most exciting functions of the new school is preparation of students interested in public service or non-profit sector leadership.

  1. Re-imagine School of Mass Communication and opportunities for collaboration across communication

The School of Mass Communication completed a successful Academic Program Review process last year. The faculty members within the School are working to implement the recommendations that emerged from the report. The undergraduate program is experiencing a growth trend and the department is recruiting a new faculty member in multi/new media. The department is implementing strategies for reinvigorating the graduate program. In the spring I will meet with the three chairs/directors or their designees in our communication programs to discuss increased opportunities for collaboration.

  1. Strengthen Criminal Justice undergraduate program

The Criminal Justice Department Faculty held a retreat early in fall to discuss department mission as an important first step in strengthening the undergraduate major. Curricular review is following work on mission and desired learning outcomes. I am meeting with those coordinating the undergraduate program to discuss ways the Dean’s office may be of further support in recruitment of majors. Julien Mirivel, Interim Chair is working in partnership with the Link staff and the Dean’s office to develop and implement a student major retention and success strategy.

  1. Explore integration of University Writing Center and Communication Skill Center

I am coordinating with a committee of faculty and student interns on analysis of the possibilities for collaboration and/or integration of service delivery across these two centers. Committee members are visiting each other’s centers, examining collaborative models at other institutions, and exploring important synergies and differences. I will send a summary report with recommendations to the Provost at the close of this semester.

  1. Reduce CSSC permanent budget by $175,000

The budget reduction for CSSC was tied to the reorganization of IOG and the creation of the new school. Working with Christy Drale, we have accounted for $140,900 of the required reduction by not filling vacant positions within IOG.

Academic Advising

The UALR Academic Advising Taskforce Report recognizes the significance of faculty advising for student success, the need for centralized advising support, and the inevitability of college-specific approaches given great variations in resources across colleges. The Taskforce Report also underscores the best practice of connecting students with their majors and major faculty as soon as possible. It is in this context that we have been working collaboratively with Chairs/Directors and our student serving staff to develop and articulate a CSSC approach to the organization of academic advising. Andrew Drummond, who served on the faculty Taskforce has been leading this work in the Dean’s office.

Without an infusion of additional resource to the college, all Chairs/Directors agree that we will continue to rely on the UALR Advising Center to provide the admission advising to admitted students expressing an interest in our major programs. Each Chair and Director will work closely with Andrew and Kim Tran to guide the information provided to these new students (whether they be first-time, first-year students or transfer students). Transfer students will also be referred upon admission to Joshua Thomsen in The LINK for declaration of the major, welcome to the college, and transition to the department. We are facilitating this transition to inform students about the college, make them aware of resources and services in The LINK, and to ensure that no students are lost in the shuffle.

Simultaneously, Andrew is collecting regular data through Argos on all admitted students indicating an intent to major in one of our programs. Joshua is contacting each of these students to invite them to The Link to declare their major(s), learn about The LINK, and assist with the transition to the Department. We are also working with Kim Tran to encourage students receiving admission advising to visit with our staff.

Declared majors become the advising responsibility of their major departments. We are maintaining some staff support for advising in the two largest majors in the college (Criminal Justice and Psychology). We are also committed to providing advising support (primarily the responsibility of Rachel Jones) for all undergraduate majors in The LINK through:

  1. Faculty advisor training and professional development
  2. Peer mentor/student staff who can assist students with basic registration functions
  3. Computer access for students
  4. Assistance with advising of students at academic risk
  5. Support for faculty with advising questions or concerns

Our students are best served when faculty advisors feel confident and have all of the information they need. We understand that the advising context at UALR is complex. We want to hear from you about your advising challenges and needs. We want to continue to consider how best to use the student-serving resources we have and your feedback is welcomed. We want to be effective advocates at the university level for continuing to improve the admission, registration, and records processes that impact our students. We want to continue to be data-informed in our ongoing work.

I am confident that with the likely addition of DegreeWorks and proposed changes in admission that allow students to declare majors up front, and improved data management and access, UALR is headed in a direction that will well serve students and advisors alike.

Thank you for your patience as we ramp up services and capacity in The LINK. Please join us for our LINK Grand Opening on October 30 at 3:00p (RH 114). We look forward to the year ahead of working together.


Shared Governance

Hello CSSC. Our shared governance processes and people are almost all in place for 2015-16. I have yet to form our new ad hoc staff advisory committee and the committee to examine the merger of the Writing and Communication Skills Centers. I will turn to these next. I want to thank everyone who responded so willingly to the call to serve. Thanks also to Laura Beck and Tusty ten Bensel for their organizing work. You may find information on standing and ad hoc committee membership on our website at:

As you know, we are also beginning the process of planning for two new degree programs. These are interdisciplinary programs across colleges for which we are taking the lead. Thank you to Mike, Tim, Joanne, and Mary for taking on the responsibility of coordinating with the committee members (see below) to move these curricular proposals forward. I will be sending these co-chairs additional information for the first committee meetings.

Bachelor of Science in Community Development and Planning

Mike Craw –co-chair
Tim Brown-co-chair
Ryan Fuller
Bruce Mitchell (CALS)
Jim Youngquist (COB)
Dirk Reiners (CEIT)
Sarah Beth Estes (ex-officio)
Ron Copeland (ex-officio)
Jolie Busby (ex-officio)

Pre-Law/Law and Society Dependent Major

Joanne Matson – co-chair
Mary Parker – co-chair
Bruce Moore                                                                                                                      Daryl Rice
Erik Malmberg (BLS)
Michael Norton (CALS)                                                                                                      Eric Weibelhaus-Braham (ex-officio)
Andrew Drummond (ex-officio)
Jay Taylor (ex-officio)

Lastly, as we head into another academic year together, thank you in advance for grounding your work in our mission, core values, and vision. Please let me know if you are ever in need of any information that will assist with your processes. I am confident that your work will yield excellent outcomes for our college.


The ideals of shared governance correlate with the foundations of a free, democratic and principled society. Shared governance does not liberate us from either civility or reality; it requires all of us to contribute to the common welfare of the university above our individual agendas and personal interests.

Glen Cummings, President, University of Southern Maine

New CSSC Faculty

As little over a week ago, I had the pleasure of dinner with our new faculty members and a chance to introduce them to other new colleagues across UALR. (Each of our new faculty members is featured at and Much of the focus of the introductions that evening was on academic background and achievement. The experience, knowledge, and perspective they bring to our academic community is exciting and we will be stronger for it.

What also struck me about this group, and the new faculty we welcomed last year is their apparent commitment to respectful and collegial interaction. This aspect of their addition to our community is equally important to the fulfillment of the mission of our college and to the professional development work (Trojan Touchstones) happening campus wide.

Welcome Melvin, Tammy, Greg, Brian, Neveen, April, Scott, and Susan. Congratulations to everyone who had a role in enticing you to join us. We are glad you are here and look forward to your contributions.