I am very pleased to have been appointed dean of the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences. The college is a truly outstanding institution. It is home to nine academic departments, including the nation's number one Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice and numerous research centers and clinics. Based on degrees awarded, it is the largest of the 13 colleges and schools at the university and offers four of the five most popular majors on campus. About three in 10 undergraduate students receive their degree from the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences. Upon graduation they leave to help shape the world as researchers, policy makers and practitioners in a wide range of fields including government, business, law, health and others.
In recent years, the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences faculty have won a Nobel Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (also known as a "genius grant") and two National Academy of Science appointments. Because of the college's outstanding faculty, the University of Maryland is ranked 10th in the country in social sciences by the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index and 18th in the world by the Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University. Last year, our faculty brought in more than $57 million in research support from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and others.
Very few universities can be truly great without deep strength in the behavioral and social sciences. The following are what I believe are the keys for building the greatness of our college and with it that of the university:
• Build more cross-disciplinary cooperation and research. Strength within disciplines creates the foundation, but advances and opportunities often lie in interdisciplinary cooperation and research.
• Respond to major new research opportunities. The college must be able and willing to cooperate between departments and across campus to bid for major external research grants.
• Increase state support through the university. As dean, one of my most important roles is to ensure that the college gets substantial increases in state resources.
• An entrepreneurial focus on fund raising across the college is essential. Although the college should receive additional state resources in the coming years, the financial future of the college and its units also is in our own entrepreneurial hands.
• We must hire and strive to retain excellent faculty since they are vital to our advancement.
• Strategic partnerships need to be developed with government departments, laboratories, non-governmental organizations and the business community for the benefit of our research and academic programs.
• We need to enhance excellence in teaching and service through a reduction in undergraduate class sizes and through new outreach efforts to Maryland communities.
• We must work to increase diversity amongst faculty, staff and students, but especially amongst faculty where the issue is, I believe, most critical.
• I will strive to foster inclusiveness and intra-college cooperation. In the Department of Geography, where I was chair, our success has come in no small part from our shared governance, highly successful retreats, and efforts to empower and mentor different communities within the department. These communities include undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty research assistants and research scientists. As dean I intend to adopt a similar approach college wide.
John R.G. Townshend
Dean and Professor