From Jon Wells, the outgoing RC Director

When I came back to UM in 2014, I often wondered why our 6,000 or so alumni were so loyal to the RC and its faculty. I soon realized that there is a lot to love about the RC! The RC provides a small and close-knit community for students and faculty within the vastness that is the University of Michigan. As universities across the country –even elite ones—move farther away from the original intentions of a college education and toward a more corporate view of higher education, the RC remains proudly and steadfastly loyal to the central goals that in my opinion should always remain at the heart of a liberal arts college degree: a commitment to the pursuit of truth as our political leaders seek to blur the lines between opinion and evidence; an appreciation for the arts; a recognition of the vital necessity of tolerance and of a skeptical stance toward dogma and comfortable clichés; and adherence to democratic processes driven by the grass roots. With that appreciation for the RC and its history firmly in place, I am stepping down as director but will continue to serve the RC as a faculty member as a teacher and researcher.

Thank you, 

Jon Wells
Professor of History in the Residential College, DAAS, and History

Catherine speaking at Fast Food for Thought, Oct 2018

From the RC Director, Catherine Badgley

Greetings, RC Alumni(ae), and the whole RC community!  

I am delighted to serve as the new director of the Residential College, starting July 1, 2019. 

I have been teaching at the RC since 1987, first as a Lecturer and Research Scientist in the Museum of Paleontology, later as a tenured Professor in the RC and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  I value the RC as a community of people deeply committed to teaching, learning, and social transformation.

At the RC, I have taught a number of first-year seminars about environmental science (e.g., Paradoxes in the Global Food System, Apocalyptic Planet: The Science and Politics of Global Change), natural-science courses (History of life) and interdisciplinary courses about the food system (Food, land, and society).  Kate Mendeloff and I collaborated in producing my play about Charles Darwin (Struggle for Existence: Darwin’s Dreams) in the Museum of Natural History. I value the opportunity to develop courses that cross disciplinary boundaries and provoke new ways of evaluating the subject matter. In my RC classes, I appreciate that I have learned as much from my students as they learned from me.  They (you!) give me hope for the future.  

Catherine working in her field area in the Mojave Desert

In the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental science and biogeography.  My research concerns the fossil record of mammals, particularly how mammals respond to environmental changes in deep time. My research group consists of a postdoctoral associate, graduate students, and undergraduate research assistants. We all do field research each year in the Mojave Desert.  As part of a different collaborative team, I have also done field work in Pakistan on the fossil record of ecosystems along the precursor of the Indus and Ganges rivers and am currently co-editing a book that synthesizes findings from four decades of research there.

As incoming director, my main goals are to support the continuing strengths and unique character of the RC in our academic and community-engagement programs and to foster innovations in these areas as well.  I wish to rebuild the faculty and courses in “Science and Society,” including topics of daily relevance to our personal and political lives. I look forward to conversations with faculty, staff, students, and many of you about your accomplishments and new directions in the second half century of the Residential College!

"Me working in my garden at home; my favorite photo of myself, since it puts everything in proper scale."

Meet the Incoming LSA Dean, Professor Anne Curzan

Anne Curzan, associate dean for the humanities and a recognized expert in language and linguistics, has been appointed dean of the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Her appointment, approved Thursday, June 20, by the Board of Regents, is effective Sept. 1 and runs through June 30, 2024. 

Curzan is an Arthur F. Thurnau professor, Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature, associate dean for humanities, professor of English language and literature, professor of linguistics in LSA and professor of education.

She follows Andrew Martin, the former LSA dean who was named chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis. Elizabeth Cole has served as interim dean since July 2018.

“The liberal arts are at the core of the university’s mission to contribute to the common good and foster an educated citizenry,” said Curzan. “I am excited and deeply honored to have this opportunity to lead LSA, my alma mater and faculty home for the past 17 years, as we continue to model what a world-class liberal arts college can achieve in research and education. I am surrounded by remarkable faculty colleagues, staff, and students, and I am committed to working to ensure that each individual is valued for the perspectives and identities they bring and can thrive as they pursue meaningful work and lives.”