Dean’s Message to the Faculty

Dean Astrida Tantillo

Dear Colleagues,

My very best wishes to you for the 2020 New Year!  I hope that you had a restful and wonderful holiday season.

The current academic year is off to such a strong start! As you may recall, we began in August with the largest number of undergraduate students in our history. UIC once again made the Wall Street Journal’s top-ten list of high-value universities: last year we were ranked higher than Stanford; this year we outranked UCLA and Princeton. In addition, according to US News and World Report’s social mobility index, we are the fourth-best university in the country in terms of how well we serve our low-income students.

As we start the new semester, I am excited to share some excellent, more recent news with you:

One of our recent alums, Sami Alahmadi (BS 2018 in biological sciences/minor in Spanish), was selected as a Rhodes Scholar! This is the College’s second Rhodes Scholar in our history, and we could not be prouder of Sami’s selection and wish him the best when he begins his Oxford studies in September!

We all can take significant pride in recent faculty accomplishments. In 2019, we garnered over $50 million in new grant commitments. These grants include Prof. Nick Huggett’s second Templeton Foundation award and Prof. Mary Ashley’s $2.5 million NSF award to increase Latino student participation in biology and chemistry.

Please join me in congratulating Prof. Nasser Mufti, who was awarded the 2019 Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities for his book, Civilizing War: Imperial Politics and the Poetics of National Rupture (Northwestern UP, 2017) and Prof. Christina Pugh, who was awarded the 2019 Juniper Prize in Poetry for her collection Stardust Media (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020).

Congratulations as well to Prof. Susan Goldman, who was named Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and to Prof. Thom Park, who was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Yichao Wu as the inaugural TransUnion Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science. The formal investiture for this endowed professorship will be on April 27 at 4 pm in the Illinois Rooms, Student Center East.

We are fortunate to be welcoming three new executive officers to the College. Please join me in welcoming José Camacho (Director of the School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics); Michael Emerson (Head of Sociology); and Young Kim (Head of Classics and Mediterranean Studies).

We have received a number of generous gifts to support our students and College. Most significantly, the Davee Foundation has given $3.4M to endow a scholarship, the Adeline Barry Davee and Ruth Dunbar Davee Scholarship Fund, to support undergraduate majors in History and English. This is the largest endowed scholarship in the College. This is also the second scholarship that the Davee Foundation has established: the first, The Davee Scholarship Fund which is endowed at $3M, is open to any major.

Thanks to the efforts of Associate Dean Rosie Hernández, the College has launched a program to support first-generation college students: “First at LAS.” I encourage you to visit the website as it contains a wealth of useful information about how you can best support the success of our first-generation students.  I also hope that the “Tell Me Your Story” posters and prompt cards (delivered at the end of the Fall semester) help open new pathways for communication and engagement with all students, but especially with those who are first-generation.  In a related effort, I would like to encourage you to rename “office hours” to “Student Drop-In Hours” on your syllabi and invite you to explore some of the strategies and tips outlined for this initiative in the accompanying E-book.

Please know that we wish to hear about and celebrate your accolades and accomplishments. You may contact me directly when you have a good piece of news to share, or you may fill out the LAS News Tips form so that we can share your success with others!

Finally, if you have not yet done so, I encourage you to download (and to encourage your students to download) the UIC Safe App.

I hope that 2020 will be a great year, and I extend to you my best wishes for the beginning of the semester,

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.