Dean’s Message to the Faculty

Dean Astrida Tantillo

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the 2019-2020 academic year. I very much hope that your summers were restorative and productive. I have many reasons to believe that this will be a great year for LAS.

We are welcoming 23 fantastic new faculty members to our ranks. This is the largest new cohort in quite some time and includes several prominent senior colleagues across the disciplines. To see the biographies of our impressive new faculty members, please visit here: Bios.

2019 has been a banner year for us in terms of our research accomplishments. Just since the beginning of the year, we have garnered close to $45 million in grant commitments, and some of our colleagues have been recognized with the highest honors in their fields. I would especially like to congratulate Professor Mark Schlossman (Physics) for his $14.1 million NSF grant to upgrade a major Argonne detector facility and Professor Alison Castro Superfine (MSCS and LSRI) for her $4.7 million NSF grant to improve K-8 mathematics instruction.

Our faculty members are improving our communities: Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appointed Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Todd-Breland to the Chicago Board of Education, Professor of Political Science Dick Simpson served as a Co-Chair of the Good Governance Committee on the Mayor’s Transition team, and Beth Richie, Head and Professor of Criminology Law and Justice, and Barbara Ransby, Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History/Director of the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative were featured in the New York Times, for “getting things done” in Chicago. Please see:

UIC and LAS continue the forward momentum of growing our student population at a time in which many universities in Illinois and across the nation struggle to attract students. This fall, we are welcoming our third largest cohort ever of incoming students. It is clear that this is a result of our growing reputation for excellence and access.

We are increasing our support for our diverse student body: we are expanding the resources of our free tutoring centers, and I am proud to announce that we are launching a program geared to support our first-generation college students. Since about 40% of our first-year students are the first in their families to attend college, this program promises to improve the college experiences and successes of many of our students. If you would like to get involved in this program, please contact Associate Dean Rosie Hernandez (

Finally, I am delighted to call your attention to the fantastic achievements of some of our alumni. Bing Lui’s (BA 2011 English) documentary, Minding the Gap was nominated this year for an academy award. Ivelisse Rodriguez’s (PhD 2006 English) book, Love War Stories, was a finalist in this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Best-selling science fiction and Marvel Comics author Nnedi Okorafor (MA 2002, PhD 2007 English) was extensively featured in the Chicago Tribune as the “Next Big Thing.” Please see: I would add that it is not surprising that we have such successful alumni writers to celebrate: our English Department’s Creative Writing Program has been ranked sixth in the country.

So, I welcome you to what promises to be an outstanding academic year, and I thank you for all of your excellence, hard work, and commitment that have brought us to where we are today.

Best wishes,


Astrida Orle Tantillo


In addition to serving as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Astrida Orle Tantillo is a professor of Germanic studies and history, and she previously served as the director of the College’s School of Literatures, Cultural Studies, and Linguistics. Dean Tantillo is an internationally renowned Goethe scholar and former president of the Goethe Society of North America.