Messages from Dean Dillon

August 18, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff in the College of Liberal Arts,

I hope everyone is keeping well.  
I am very pleased to announce that Professor Kabria Baumgartner has agreed to serve as the inaugural Faculty Fellow for Equity and Inclusion in our college for a four-year term, starting this fall. As many of you know, Professor Baumgartner, Associate Professor of English and American Studies, is a terrific scholar, teacher, mentor, and colleague. Among the many accolades her research has garnered are The Mary Kelley Book Prize from The Society for Historians of the Early American Republic for In Pursuit of Knowledge: Black Women’s Educational Activism in Antebellum America, and being named a Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Emerging Scholar for 2020. She is the recipient of grants from the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Peabody Essex Museum, the National Park Service, the Organization of American Historians, and the Spencer Foundation. 
I greatly appreciate Professor Baumgartner’s willingness to take on this important role. As Dean, I reiterate COLA’s commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable college. While the achievement of this goal will require the engagement and support of the entire COLA community, Professor Baumgartner will be especially critical in moving us forward. 
Among the initiatives I have asked Professor Baumgartner to lead are drafting a proposal for a COLA mandatory social justice requirement; the establishment of a Center for Race and Culture; coordinating faculty workshops on teaching race and decolonizing syllabi; organizing COLA student cohorts to study race-based topics; and scheduling programming that showcases the work of Black, Indigenous and other people of color. 
As we move forward, I want to acknowledge in particular the diligence and commitment of our ongoing Working Group on Social Justice: Professors Anna Wainwright (chair), David Kaye, Jason Sokol, and Lin Zhang.  
Best wishes,
Michele Dillon
Dean, College of Liberal Arts

June 2, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff in the College of Liberal Arts,

As Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, I want to reiterate the views expressed yesterday by President Dean and Provost Jones prompted by the killing of George Floyd and the many other incidences of the dehumanization of Black people. I also want to use this moment to renew our College’s commitment to working to ensure that African-American students, faculty, and staff are fully assured of equality and of a safe and inclusive learning, working, and living environment at UNH. I will work with you to expand the teaching of race across our curriculum, to further amplify our faculty’s research findings on the many dimensions and wide-ranging impacts of racial inequality, and to create new ways of being on campus, in the classroom and beyond, that nurture a common good built on recognizing the humanity of all of us in and amid our rich diversity.

As a first and immediate step, I will soon host a virtual open forum that will provide all of us with an opportunity to learn how we can do better to recognize, understand, and ameliorate everyday racism and its lived experience. I will send details about this forum in the coming days. 


Michele Dillon

Michele Dillon, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Class of 1944 Professor of Sociology
University of New Hampshire

June 29, 2020

Update: The College forum on racism was held June 23, 2020. The agenda included a discussion of structural/institutional racism with a presentation from Kabria Baumgartner, assistant professor of English and American studies, followed by Q&A. Discussion began on the idea of a mandatory diversity requirement for all COLA students and the idea of offering a Cognate in Diversity.

This is the third in a series of open fora on diversity in the College of Liberal Arts. Previous fora were held on April 1, 2019: What Can COLA Do to Make UNH More Inclusive? and a "Difficult Conversations" meeting on the topic of diversity on September 25, 2019.