This is an article from the fall 2018 issue of 
LSA MagazineRead more stories from the magazine.

On September 1, Professor Elizabeth Cole began work as the interim dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. An alumna herself — Cole received her Ph.D. from LSA’s Department of Psychology in 1993 — Interim Dean Cole had been serving as LSA’s associate dean for the social sciences before becoming interim dean. She is a professor in the Departments of Women’s Studies, Psychology, and Afroamerican and African Studies and has won some of U-M’s most prestigious faculty awards, including the John Dewey Teaching Award and the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award. She is also one of the main drivers and architects of LSA’s ambitious, multi-year Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan.

We sat down with Interim Dean Cole to talk about her experience as a professor and her hopes for the coming year.


LSA: What are you excited about working on as you start your term as interim dean?

Interim Dean Cole: Most importantly, I’m excited about continuing a lot of the great work that has already been happening at LSA. I want our recent focus and progress on key strategic priorities including the LSA Opportunity Hub, our DEI initiatives, and greater student support to remain strong. I’ve worked hand in hand with outgoing dean Andrew Martin and my colleagues in the dean’s office to implement these efforts, and our momentum on these priorities will continue.

I also intend to champion the value of true dialogue: the ability to speak authentically about what you think and feel while at the same time being able to hear, understand, and respect different perspectives and ideas. LSA has always been committed to this value, and we are doing even more now to develop it in our students, faculty, and staff by augmenting the academic curriculum with outside-the-classroom opportunities.


LSA: What is one important thing that you want students to know about LSA?

Interim Dean Cole: The scope of what you can learn and get involved in at LSA is breathtaking — from research in sparkling new science labs, to courses on film and video production, to performing Shakespeare in the Arboretum. Some students come to LSA with a clear course of study in mind, and some may be undecided. In either case, I want to encourage all students to get out there and take advantage of these amazing opportunities.


LSA: What is the best thing about teaching?

Interim Dean Cole: I love the way you can see the students increase in the depth and sophistication of their knowledge over time. I teach about gender and race and prejudice, so of course these are subjects that everyone comes to class with some knowledge of and opinions about. Over the course of a semester, I love seeing the ways students acquire more complex frameworks for thinking about these topics.  


Photo by Levi Stroud