Dean's Welcome: Fall 2020

photo of Chris MakaroffThis fall, Miami welcomes 4143 new students to our campus, including 1688 students in the College of Arts and Science (CAS). As Dean of the CAS, it is my honor and pleasure to welcome you as a member of the Class of 2024.

This past year so far has been one of uncertainty and extreme challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has infected millions and killed over 150,000 people here in the United States, disrupting lives and overwhelming medical resources. In addition to dealing with a severe economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus, we are deep in the midst of civil and racial tensions over police violence as we struggle to deal with the repercussions of institutional racism, bigotry, and xenophobia while trying to enact meaningful change.

Despite these problems, one thing that has not changed is our commitment to provide you the best undergraduate experience possible and prepare you for successful careers and rewarding lives. The start of our academic year will not be typical, as you and your classmates experience a phased-in fall semester, made up of a mixture of online, hybrid, and face-to-face courses to help us keep everyone's health and safety our top priority. However, regardless of how you embark on your new academic experiences this semester, I hope you find it to be an amazing journey of discovery and achievement that will help prepare you to navigate and interpret our vast and vibrant world.

The CAS is Miami University's largest division and academic centerpiece for the liberal arts. Among our 11 theme areas we offer 63 majors, 50 minors, and 11 co-majors, from American studies to zoology. This rich diversity of rigorous academic programs and experiences will provide you opportunities to build your critical thinking and communication skills, cultivate intellect and creativity, and help you develop empathy and the sense of working for the common good. All of these are key building blocks to a successful and rewarding career in our ever-changing, globally minded workforce.

In the CAS, you will study with nationally and internationally recognized scholars and researchers who are committed to academic excellence and to helping you achieve your academic and professional goals. Every student counts, and the personal interaction between faculty and students is a true hallmark of the Miami experience—elevating Miami to national recognition as one of the top 50 national public universities (U.S. News & World Report) and one of the "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" (Kiplinger's Personal Finance).

With all the uncertainty these days, a liberal arts education has never been more valuable than now. It provides you with broad perspectives and problem-solving skills in the context of a dynamic world—something you cannot get from a highly disciplined-focused course of study. Your liberal arts degree will not only provide you the foundation for a rich and rewarding life, but also help prepare you for a long and successful career.

The value of the liberal arts has long been showcased in various media outlets:

The CAS partners with Miami's Center for Career Exploration and Success to help guide students towards their chosen career paths via career clusters—groupings of common occupations that fall within broad career sectors. Your major does not dictate your career, but career clusters serve as helpful guides to pair your academic interests and strengths with your career interests to start you out on the path to success.

As you navigate your journey of discovery here at the CAS, I urge you to fully develop the cognitive toolkit your liberal arts education provides you by:

  • Challenging your thinking in new ways by taking a class or two outside your chosen major
  • Immersing yourself in another culture with Miami's popular study abroad and away programs
  • Applying and enhancing your analytical skills in undergraduate research with a faculty mentor
  • Gaining professional competencies through internships and other experiential types of learning
  • Taking on a leadership role in a student organization, residence hall, or fraternity/sorority

When you engage yourself in these rich academic and extracurricular experiences, your life will be impacted in positive and memorable ways.

Just get involved in new knowledge, new friendships, new personal discoveries, and whatever appeals to you—especially if it exists beyond your comfort zone. Avail yourself to everything that Miami provides. Doing so will enhance both your contributions to the global community and the ultimate value of your liberal arts education.

I wish you the best in your first of four great years at Miami.

With Love and Honor,

Chris Makaroff, PhD

Professor of Chemistry and Dean
College of Arts & Science
Miami University