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End of the Year Message from Dean Hollis Robbins

April 2024

Dean Hollis wearing a red dress in front of flowers

Dean Hollis Robbins

Congratulations to all of us – our new graduates especially – as we come to the end of an exciting year in the College of Humanities! It has been a busy and successful time for the college, and I would like to highlight just a few of our achievements, awards, and accomplishments.

The Tanner Humanities Center is reaching the end of an overwhelmingly successful year – every main event has been sold out! Carmen Maria MachadoDavid Wallace-WellsLaToya Ruby FrazierMin Jin Lee, and Robin Wall Kimmerer with Kyle Whyte.  Congratulations to the Tanner Team: Director Jeremy Rosen, Beth James, and Missy Weeks.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the opening of the Edna Anderson-Taylor Communication Institute! Since the opening, we’ve hosted important events exploring topics such as the role journalism plays in keeping political figures accountable, how Millennials are changing the religious landscape, and colonial apologies in the U.S. We’ve also hosted significant workshops for faculty and graduate students.

Congratulations to Karen Marsh, Cameron Vakilian and the student success team for the planning and opening of the Student Success Hubin CTIHB. It’s been very exciting to watch students gather in the Hub to take advantage of the services and the many events we now offer there, such as Tabling Tuesdays, networking opportunities, advising and career coaching. It has become a space where students can learn, thrive, study, and get the support they need for their academic journey.

Thank you to Isabel Moreira and John Boyack for organizing our exciting Lightning Talks series featuring research by our new faculty and postdocs, and book conversations with members of the University of Utah Press. 

It was impressive to see faculty turnout and engagement with Christopher Thornton, Director of Research for the National Endowment for the Humanities, who visited campus in November, and with Sherry Lowe, Chair of the NEH, who visited campus in January. In March, we welcomed to campus Niko Pfund, President of Oxford University Press, who met with students and faculty about careers in publishing and publication projects.

A big thank you to Jenna Taylor for supporting several big AI initiatives, which will further our collaboration across campus and establish the humanities as necessary contributors to the field.


 There are so many awards and I would like highlight a few: Congratulations to Robin Jensen for winning the National Communication Association’s Golden Anniversary Monograph Award; Paisley Rekdalfor winning the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Jill Landes-Lee, nominated for USA Today’s Woman of the Year award.

Congratulations to Lindsey Drager, just awarded the 2024 Ramona Cannon Award for Teaching Excellence and Vince Cheng, awarded the 2024 Calvin S. and JeNeal N. Hatch Prize in Teaching.

I know I’m missing many awards, but please know I’m so proud of the important scholarship our faculty continue to engage in, not only in their research but in the classroom, as well.

New Academic Initiatives

Congratulations to all faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students who made our inaugural Great Books/Great Science Books sequence such a success! Once again thanks to Associate Dean Mike Middleton for all his work developing the course and structure and for helping guide the next iteration: Great Books fall 2024.

Last May, we were thrilled to announce that Eric Hutton won a prestigious national grant to support a new Buddhist studies scholar, who will join the Department of World Languages and Cultures next year. This will be the first tenure-line position focused on teaching and research in Buddhist Studies in our college.

Our journalism students continue to thrive thanks to new partnerships with the Great Salt Lake Collaborative and the Utah College Media Collaborative. These opportunities allow our students to learn the practical side of journalism and adapt to the ever-changing field.

We are excited to offer a Master of Communication at the U Asia Campus beginning Fall 2024. This new degree is a great fit for our students seeking hands-on learning and international experience. I had the opportunity to visit the vibrant Asia Campus in March to meet many of the faculty and students. This is truly an exciting campus for our students that helps prepare them for wide variety of global careers.

Our college – in partnership with the School for Cultural and Social Transformation – recently announced a new certificate in Environmental Humanities and Transformative Justicethat provides an interdisciplinary and justice-oriented focus on environmental issues. This certificate will support the next generation of environmental leaders.

Last October, faculty from our college provided valuable insight about the crisis in Israel and Gazato campus leaders and created an environment for them to participate in a moderated discussion and ask questions in a non-politicized space. This forum proved – once again – just how necessary it is to rely on the humanities in critical times.

Our goals remain the same: increase our majors, support and launch our graduate students, create new research opportunities, increase funding for students, staff, and faculty, raise our national and international profile, and distinguish ourselves as doing cutting edge humanities research.

I know that students who choose humanities majors have chosen the very best path to fulfillment, leadership, and a lifetime of engagement with the fundamental questions of our experience on this planet. I have been impressed with the powerful student energy I’ve seen this semester – students exploring history, the stories we tell, our ways of communicating, our deep thoughts, and ways of knowing. Humanities students are our future leaders, chroniclers, and knowledge-makers. We trust in them and will provide them with the tools they need to succeed.


- Dean Hollis Robbins

Jana Cunningham, University of Utah College of Humanities | 801-213-0866

Published April 17, 2024


Last Updated: 4/17/24