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Dean's note: A very full fall semester

September 20, 2023

We are one month into fall semester, and I suspect many of you are feeling like you’ve been back in Case Hall far longer. I write to you today to share some important updates.

For those who may not know me, I am a professor and the associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in James Madison College. This semester I will be filling in for Dean Cameron Thies, who is on a medical leave. We look forward to his return during the spring semester.

 Linda Racioppi

If your summer was anything like mine, it was busy! Professor Sejuti Das Gupta and I led the JMC education abroad course Global Development in South Asia. Professors Robert Brathwaite and Matthew Zierler also ran our long-standing program on international relations in Brussels. 

Back on campus, our terrific faculty taught classes, and an intrepid group of colleagues served on a committee to explore curricular changes to better serve our students.

I am pleased to share the college has launched the Equitable Development Collaboratory. Led by Professors Das Gupta, Amanda Flaim and me, and operating along the lines of the Human Rights Lab that is directed by Professor Robert Brathwaite, the Collaboratory seeks to provide applied skills and co-curricular enrichment activities to aid those interested in pursuing careers in international or local development, with an aim to serve the community. 

In addition to new program initiatives, we have a few new faces. Nearly one month ago to the day, we welcomed Lauren Michalak, our new field experience coordinator to the academic staff. And just a week or two earlier, we welcomed Professor Myunghee Lee, a new assistant professor of international relations. I look forward to getting to know more about their expertise in the coming months.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to congratulate our faculty members who earned promotions, please seek them out. I know they’d love to hear from you. On a sadder note, two exceptional teachers will be retiring this year: For those who have had the fortune of learning from Professors Connie Hunt and Colleen Tremonte, please extend your thanks and warm wishes. Information will be forthcoming about retirement celebrations.

There are so many interesting events these next few weeks; I hope you will take advantage and attend as many as possible. Tomorrow, we welcome featured speakers Hyrum Lewis and Verlan Lewis for our annual Constitution Day lecture.

On Oct. 5, we will welcome our third Stephen O. Murray Scholar-in-Residence to the college. Canton Winer, assistant professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University, will deliver his first public talk of the year “Does Everyone Have a Gender? Examining the Intersection of Asexuality and Gender.” Having these in-person opportunities to further develop ideas and conversations we have in the classroom, is so important. I encourage you to visit the events calendar on the website to learn about other events the college will be hosting.

Don’t miss our next Breakfast and Lunch Chat in the JMC Library at noon on Oct. 12. I hope to meet you at one or more of these events.


Linda Racioppi
Professor / Associate Dean of Faculty Research and Academic Affairs
James Madison College