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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Interim dean delivers State of the College of Arts and Sciences

Discussions+happening+at+multiple+roundtables+at+the+MSC+2401+on+Monday%2C+April+4%2C+2023.
Photos by: A Nguyen

Discussions happening at multiple roundtables at the MSC 2401 on Monday, April 4, 2023.

With the College of Arts and Sciences nearing a full academic year since its establishment, the Arts and Sciences Interim Dean hosted an event at the Memorial Student Center, or MSC, Bethancourt Ballroom on April 6 to discuss the state of the college. 

The College of Arts and Sciences was officially launched by President M. Katherine Banks at the start of the fall 2022 semester. The new college brought  together the former Colleges of Geosciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, featuring a range of majors from mathematics to journalism. 

English senior Lilia Elizondo opened the event by providing the student perspective on the new College of Arts and Sciences. Elizondo recounted reservations she had early on with the new college.

Change is scary, change is new and change is necessary,” Elizondo said. 

Elizondo said as an English major, she was worried about the liberal arts majors being swept under the rug with a focus on STEM. However, as the founder of the new Council of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities, or CASH, Elizondo said she has been able to see firsthand the bridge between the arts and sciences rather than divide, with cross-disciplinary interests showing what everyone has to offer.

“[CASH] included the majors that were in the new college … everyone gets along so well … there was no disconnect at all, and it turns out that everyone wanted to learn a little about what the other was learning,” Elizondo said in an interview with The Battalion.

The Arts and Sciences Interim Dean José Luis Bermúdez, Ph.D., went on to articulate the importance of the college at the heart of the largest public university in the country, serving as the foundation for every degree plan. 

In an interview with The Battalion, Bermúdez said with dust being settled from the transition, everything is coming more clearly into view, and things have fallen into place in a way that will allow for further commitments for the future. 

“There’s been a lot of transition, a lot of operational things that had to be done to create a new college…now we’re at a position to start to look ahead and develop a vision for the future,”  Bermúdez said. 

According to Bermúdez, one of the priorities going forward will be a continued push for transformational education. One of the ways that Bermúdez has been discussing this change has been through a transformational staff who he says has been hired, with more on the way. 

Additionally, Bermúdez said there has been discussion and initiatives focused on lowering costs and making sure the College of Arts and Sciences is affordable for all students with more studentships and scholarships in addition to support for study abroad and research opportunities. 

“Arts and Sciences is taking the lead in lowering costs for students through Open Educational Resources, or OER,” Bermúdez said. “68% of all the courses at [A&M] that use OER are in Arts and Sciences, and we estimate that our students have saved nearly $2M in the eight months that we have been a single college, with the departments of English and Biology taking the lead,” Bermúdez said.

With the extraordinary speed and scope of the growth and potential of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bermúdez said growth will go hand in hand with academic innovation, research and development of new degree programs and partnerships that will allow the elevation of the whole university.  

“In 10 years’ time, [A&M] will be recognized as the preeminent university in Texas and a worthy equal to the very best universities in the nation and in the world,” Bermúdez said. “The College of Arts and Sciences will be leading the charge to take us there.”
Editor’s note: Lilia Elizondo is an opinion writer for The Battalion, but was not involved in the writing, editing or publication of this article.

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