The University of
Delaware’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) encompasses some 10,000
individuals — students, faculty and staff — each with a particular dream
or passion that motivates them, John A. Pelesko told the UD Association
of Retired Faculty at the group’s Oct. 15 luncheon meeting.
And, Pelesko said, since being appointed dean in July 2019, he has
spent a lot of time learning about those passions and thinking about
what those thousands of individuals share. His talk to the association
was titled, “What I Learned in My First Year as Dean.”
From faculty who teach and advise students to staff members who
handle such tasks as information technology or communication, there are
key areas of overlapping goals and interests, he said.
“I think that whenever you undertake any kind of service role at our
University, your job — your responsibility — is to help make the dreams
of other people come true,” Pelesko said. “Our faculty and staff, our
students and our alumni all bring their incredible dreams and passions
to the table.”
He identified a key focus throughout CAS as a dedication to helping students realize their dreams.
“There is a universal commitment across the college to student
success,” he said. “And we have a unique role, different from the other
colleges, because we touch every single student at the University.”
Regardless of major, UD undergraduates learn foundational skills such
as reading, writing and critical thinking in CAS classes. The college
also exposes students across the University to such broader topics as
arts, culture and ethical thinking.
In other core values of the college, identified as commitments to
inclusive excellence, scholarship and community engagement, “Again, the
College of Arts and Sciences has a special role to play” in its impact
across disciplines, Pelesko said.
“We set the tone for the whole University,” he said, calling it “an awesome responsibility.”
He told the audience that he also concentrates on addressing
challenges, often involving time, space and money. As the college and UD
have grown, the processes of operating and managing a larger
institution need to be constantly assessed and improved, he said.
As dean, he said, his challenge is to learn about and help implement
the best ideas for improvement, which often come from faculty, staff,
students and alumni.
“The good ideas do not reside in the dean’s office,” he said.
More about John Pelesko and CAS
Pelesko, a professor of mathematical sciences, served as interim dean
of the College of Arts and Sciences from September 2018 until his
permanent appointment as dean in July 2019.
He was previously the college’s associate dean for the natural
sciences from 2016-18 and was chairperson of the Department of
Mathematical Sciences from 2011-15.
His University-wide service includes work with the Data Science
Initiative, the Honors Program Task Force and the General Education Task
The College of Arts and Sciences
is UD’s largest college, with more than 7,000 undergraduate students,
1,100 graduate students, and over 50 academic departments, research
institutes, interdisciplinary centers and programs.
Article by Ann Manser; photo by Kathy F. Atkinson
Published Oct. 18, 2019