SAS In Focus, April 2021

It’s April 14.

Commencement is 30 days away.

And this is what’s In Focus.

Spotlight: State of the School

We’ve now been living under the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year, making it a great time to check-in on how things have been going. And that’s what Dean Gloria Culver did on April 1, when she delivered a state of the school address.

Her talk acknowledged the community-wide efforts that allowed learning, teaching, and research to continue, despite unprecedented challenges. She also touched on how the school continues to actively work toward goals, evolve—through the development of programs and facilities—and receive recognition from private and federal institutions.

“It was my pleasure to discuss our efforts to continue our work, while trying to keep everyone safe and healthy, and to thank all of our community members who have helped with these efforts,” said Dean Culver of her address. “I also was thrilled to highlight our work on academic and research programs, especially those involving faculty, staff and students.”

Overall, in just a few words, the state of the school is grateful, evolving, and undeterred.

If you’d like you know how and why, you can view a recording of the address, which includes an introduction from University Trustee Lizette Perez-Deisboeck ʼ87 and a brief Q&A at the end.

View State of the School address.

[Photo by Adam Fenster: Kerfala (Fana) Bangoura leads his West African dance class in person and via Zoom in a tent on Wilson Quad.]

Zooming In

On architecture. Many people see it as the intersection of science and art. In a new project, Peter Christensen, associate professor of art history, argues it’s also a marriage between artistic invention and intellectual property. And that relationship has changed the ways buildings are designed, engineered, and constructed. Basically, patents transformed architecture. Cool, right? The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation thought so. They awarded Christensen a fellowship to explore this understudied shift. Read more.

On universal wages. There’s no better time than now. That’s Rochester student Kevin Sapere’s argument. A PhD student in the Department of History, Sapere points out that the pandemic has put a spotlight on housework—such as child-care, cooking, and cleaning. While it’s become more visible and more necessary because of shelter-in-place practices, it hasn’t become any more valued, despite driving houseworkers to their breaking points. In a Washington Post essay, Sapere suggests, in this case, maybe we don’t return to “normal.” Read more.

Quick View

There’s a lot happening. There’s a lot of news and information being sent your way. Here are some stories you might have missed that are worth a look.

Fellows. The Frederick Douglass Institute selected two 2021 postodoctoral fellows, Mia Alafireet and Ricardo Milhouse

Biotechnology. A grant from the U.S. Air Force is supporting Rochester student-developed biotech that combats traumatic brain injuries

Climate. Work chronicling Himalayan climate change has made Rochester historians recipients of the 2021 Public Outreach Project Award

Politics. Bright Line Watch, a nonpartisan University initiative, finds Republican and Democrat voters agree on COVID-19 relief

Remembered. Mary Young, a Rochester professor emeritus with razor-sharp wit and insight, was a trailblazer in the study of indigenous Americans

On the Horizon

Looking for something to do? Consider attending one of the upcoming events below. For all other School of Arts and Sciences events, check the University Calendar.

4/16…Humanities Center: Reach Beyond the Academy

4/19…Art and Art History: The Architecture of Destruction in Kurdistan

4/22…Modern Languages and Cultures: On Resonance

4/28…Ferrari Humanities Symposia: The Shape of Pre-Modern Lives

5/4…..Biology: Aging Research Day



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