New Dean Takes Over, LARP Joins SBS
July 1, 2009 marked some notable changes in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Robert Feldman, associate dean since 2006, became SBS's new dean, the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) joined SBS, and the Department of Psychology moved to the new College of Natural Sciences.
Robert Feldman succeeds Janet Rifkin who was dean since 2002. Rifkin says, "Bob has broad and intimate knowledge about all facets of SBS and he will be a committed, strong and engaged leader of the College." Feldman has actively supported faculty teaching and mentoring activities that strengthen classroom and service efforts, and he has developed programs for undergraduates and graduate students. Since 2001, he has directed the Power Up for Student Success program for entering first-year students.
Says Feldman, "Janet strengthened the College in innumerable ways, and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her many, many contributions. Under Janet's leadership, the College today is healthy and strong, despite facing several important issues that we'll be addressing in the upcoming year."
Feldman notes two significant changes due to campus reorganization that have already had a direct effect on SBS. One is the addition of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) to the College. "I am very pleased to welcome them," he says while noting the departure of Psychology from SBS to the new College of Natural Sciences. "As a member of that department since 1977, I'm both personally and professionally sorry to see them leave, but I'm committed to minimizing any effects on the College and to finding new opportunities for growth and the advancement of our mission."
LARP offers eight academic programs, ranging from a two-year degree in landscape contracting to a PhD in regional planning. "Our mission," says department chair Elizabeth Brabec, "is to educate planners and landscape architects about planning and design policies, concepts and practices that meet human, social and economic needs while respecting the ecological integrity of the environment. Through an integrated program of teaching, research, and outreach, we use the New England landscape as a laboratory for inquiry and instruction. We serve the strategic growth and management interests of the larger region, the Commonwealth, and its local cities and towns."
Feldman is very cognizant of budgetary issues that SBS faces. "Although we have temporarily delayed serious budget cuts for the upcoming year due to a one-time infusion of stimulus monies," he notes, "we will have to do some serious planning for the following year. The good news is that the Chancellor has explicitly committed research support to the social sciences, and we are already planning ways to operationalize his commitment. Ultimately, I'm optimistic about the future of SBS. I am confident that we have the opportunity to build on our strengths and continue our tradition of excellence in research, teaching, and service."
July 1, 2009