Messages from Dean Dillon

December 22, 2021

Dear UNH Colleagues,

The COLA newsletter notes that our new Global Racial and Social Inequality Lab (GRSIL) has gotten off to a great start! I’m writing to provide you additional details about our DEI activities.

I am delighted to report that through GRSIL we awarded funding to 8 of 17 proposals submitted in response to our call for Small Grant Applications, and to 12 of 13 students eager to participate in our inaugural January Research Opportunity Program (JROP). The small grant projects include a student-faculty collaboration on a choral music composition piece for gender-inclusive voices; faculty/student collaborative research on: anti-Asian media representations, gender inequality in the U.S. military, and comic storytelling in Indonesian communities in New Hampshire; a faculty-facilitated professional learning community for teachers on critical social justice issues in the classroom; faculty training in the Inside/Out prison teaching program; faculty engagement with the Seacoast African American Cultural Center on an Afrofuturism art exhibition; and a student-coordinated book club on Black literature.

The student JROP activities are equally broad and interesting and encompass students majoring across 11 different COLA programs and 2 inter-college double majors (one in Earth Sciences and one in Business Administration). They include projects on critical race theory; race and land forfeiture; fast fashion and pollution; bio-forensic lab analysis of missing persons; the history of Asian transracial adoption; Italian-Jewish food practices; Islamophobia in the media; a creative nonfiction writing project; and two art projects on the subjective experience of marginality.

Among other activities, the Lab team also held open conversation events separately with students and faculty on inclusive pedagogy and have two more planned for Spring. Our College’s Committee on Equity, Inclusion and Justice continues to meet regularly, and its members are working closely with the Faculty Senate on exploring the feasibility of requiring all UNH students to complete a course on diversity before graduation. While these discussions proceed, COLA faculty continue to integrate analytical perspectives on DEI matters in new and existing courses, in co-curricular opportunities, and in their research and artistry. Indeed, 4 of the 6 articles in our Fall Newsletter showcased different ways in which DEI is part and parcel of everyday activity in COLA.

I wish you all the best for a wonderful Holiday break and a happy and healthy 2022!


Michele Dillon

Michele Dillon
Dean, College of Liberal Arts

I am excited to announce that, effective September 1, 2021, the College is establishing a hub for curriculum, research, and community-engaged activities relating to global racial and social inequality. This interdisciplinary venture, the Global Racial and Social Inequality Lab (GRSIL), is intended to bring students, faculty, and staff together in collaborative learning and research around the varied forms of racial and social inequality. The GRSIL will build on our College’s extensive curriculum offerings, internship and co-curricular opportunities, faculty expertise and scholarship, and student research on racial and social inequality. Its activities will be funded by our current Mellon Foundation grant and from the COLA Dean’s unrestricted gift fund.

The GRISL is envisioned as a dynamic site of (1) research, (2) pedagogical, and (3) community engaged activity. (1) Faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate) already working on or interested in projects that variously engage with racial and social inequality are invited and encouraged to participate in the GRSIL. Additionally, we will broaden faculty and student engagement on these thematic areas by incentivizing new and continuing research on such topics and with the intention to apply for external funding to support this research. (2) The Lab will provide pedagogical workshops on evolving best practices in creating inclusive syllabi and inclusive classrooms, as well as providing a venue for open discussion of complex issues. Additionally, the GRSIL will serve as the administrative home of our many interdisciplinary minors focused on inequality. (3) The Lab will also use its analytical expertise to facilitate community partnerships, develop internships, and expand our collaborative relationships with community colleges and non-profit community organizations in the region.

The Lab’s activities will be steered by a faculty and staff team (who will report to me):

Research leader: Professor Delia Konzett, English
Curriculum leader: Professor Mauricio Pulecio, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Community partnerships leader: Professor Alynna Lyon, Political Science
Mellon Grant Project Manager: Professor Paul Robertson, Classics, Humanities, and Italian Studies
Administrative Coordinator (part-time): Avary Thorne, Women’s and Gender Studies

I am deeply grateful to these colleagues for their commitment to the GRISL and its goals. The Lab will also have a journalism student intern and a student office assistant, and its own administrative and team-meeting office space: Murkland G14. I am also grateful to the College’s Committee on Equity, Inclusion, and Justice—Professors Islam Karkour, David Kaye, Alecia Magnifico, Adam Schoene, Jason Sokol, Anna Wainwright, and Lin Zhang—for their energetic work and I look forward to the Committee’s continuation as well as to its collaboration with the GRISL.

Based on feedback I’ve received over the past couple of months, I believe that this team-based approach will help drive ownership of diversity, equity, and inclusion goals across the entire College. Further, given the expectation that the Lab personnel will energetically advance the College’s DEI activities and goals, I will not be appointing a faculty fellow for equity and inclusion.


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.