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A Message From the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Welcome to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. With more than 20 disciplines in which students can major, and an additional six free-standing minors, we are the largest school in the University. Our faculty teach a significant portion of the undergraduate core curriculum as well. There is so much for us to be proud of in our school, starting with our faculty.

Most of our faculty members have a terminal degree and are active researchers in their disciplines. We are fortunate to have several Fulbright scholars, numerous faculty members with recent peer-reviewed book and journal publications, and professors who serve as valued officers in professional organizations at the regional and national level. We believe in having our finest faculty in the classroom, engaging and inspiring students to become as enthralled with the disciplines as their professors are.

Our students often comment on the fun they have making choices on how to spend their co-curricular time. These choices include activities in the arts, civic engagement, service to society, spiritual development, research with professors outside the classroom, internships, study abroad, student government, and so much more. And, of course, our students find time for a social life, too! Many of our alumni note that their best life-long friendships began at St. Mary’s because they worked together on things that were mutually meaningful. And, some of our most beloved professors are St. Mary’s alumni.

Civic engagement and service are integral parts of the St. Mary’s experience, not exclusive to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, but certainly central to our identity. Two events early in the semester that many of our students and faculty will participate in are Continuing the Heritage and U.S. Constitution Day. During Continuing the Heritage, we will go to various sites to paint, tutor, learn, clean, or in other ways share our gifts and discover the roles we can play in our community. On U.S. Constitution Day, we will celebrate by learning about our rights and responsibilities that are articulated in our nation’s constitution. In past years, we’ve had games, door prizes, food, American jazz, and other lively events.

Of course, such co-curricular activities are optional, but many students find that these moments are exceptional at developing just the right balance of engaging one’s intellect, heart, spiritual self and physical being. They contribute to St. Mary’s unique character, and I think help explain why so many of our students do well academically. When students are fully engaged outside the classroom, they are more likely to persist in class even if faced with serious challenges.

The arts offer many opportunities for engagement on campus. Our Drama department has just set its performance schedule for the season, and it promises to be an exciting one. There will be three varied, thought-provoking productions: Unexpected Tenderness, Copenhagen, and Into the Woods. The first will be directed by one of our own undergraduates, the second is an exploration of the interplay of art, science and emotion, and the last is a collaborative work with our music department. It has become our tradition to end the theater season with a series of student one-act plays. Last year’s productions were delightful, moving, and left the audiences wanting more. The calendar of art exhibitions for the year has been set, and we encourage all to enjoy these spectacular events. Our Music department will have a full and lively year of performances, and all are always welcome to attend.

Most departments have special activities planned for their majors and other students who might be interested in the discipline. For example, the Psychology department hosts an off-campus, two-day retreat for its majors. This retreat has become a tradition that students look forward to, because it builds a community of psychology scholars, helping students solidify their decision to become psychology majors. The Philosophy department has a team competition called Ethics Bowl, which emphasizes the development of sound reasoning and ethical foundations in conducting one’s life. The same department also hosts the Meeting of the Minds, a very fun event where faculty, staff, and sometime students take on the personae of historical characters and have a conversation in character. Imagine witnessing a discussion between Aristotle and Sigmund Freud! The impressive Pecan Grove Review, under the guidance of the English and Communication Studies department, publishes works of creative writing from students, faculty, and staff.

I have given you only a taste of the many opportunities and events that occur each year in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Every department and each program can list several special ways in which students and faculty members make their disciplines come alive. We are a home for hands-on intellectual engagement.

Whether you are a student, parent, faculty member, friend or first-time visitor, welcome!