College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.
CLAS Website and Beyond
FROM THE DEAN'S DESK
Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Spring and summer terms used to be pretty quiet on campus, but in the last few years, the activities have ramped up which means we are making new uses of our facilities and acknowledging the year-round nature of our enterprise.
This month we will hold our second CLAS on the Green golf outing on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 19 at the Meadows. Whether you are pretty impressive on the links or just a sometimes golfer, this is quite a fun event and benefits CLAS Scholarships.
Grandparents, Grandkids, Grand Valley (G3 camp) will have its second running June 25-27. I’d like to thank all of the faculty and staff who have volunteered to provide fascinating offerings that appeal to young and old. The Regional Math and Science Center staff are doing a great service in the form of reputation raising and very early recruiting.
As you’ll recall, I’ve urged you all to think about conferences to bring here because experience tells us that once someone has visited here, they tend to become ambassadors helping to build our national reputation. This month, our Communication Studies colleagues have answered that call and will host the Media Ecology Association’s 14th annual convention .
With great anticipation, we look forward to the opening of our new library this month (June 24) and the new opportunities that will mean for all of us.
Before you get back to closing out the fiscal year and working on your spring and summer projects, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss some good news that came in as the winter term was ending. Jim Krikke won the AP Commitment to Students Award. Glad his good work was recognized and congratulations to those who nominated him. Recent alumna Aubrey McMahan claimed a prestigious nationally competitive scholarship offered through the State Department. This International Relations alumna will spend summer 2013 in Oman studying Arabic through the Critical Language Scholarship. And the films of our School of Communications continue to snag awards. The Eclipse Award presented by WKTV with the West Michigan Film Video Alliance to honor the best regional works in film, video, sound and television production was bestowed on two of our films, Horizontal Accidents and Message Sent. Congratulations to the teams who worked on those projects.
We finish out the ninth year of the college just as we should—with a brand new hole in the ground and lots of temporary fences that we have come to love as a sure sign that some of our space needs are in the process of being met. At the recent AP Forum with the Senior Management Team, when asked what comes next, Tom Haas told the assembled that we do desperately need a black box theatre and space for other communications disciplines. It can be very hard to wait for such things, but the inevitable march up the priority list continues each year.
Recent news includes
Do you have summer or fall events coming up? Let us know so we can add them to the CLAS web calendar (it is never too early): email@example.com
What the Deans are Doing in June
Dean Antczak notes, “June is simpler to talk about, if not less work. Of course it brings a flurry of activity in closing the fiscal year down. Also, the last preparations for the CLAS scholarship golf benefit, CLAS on the Green, will take place. I’ll give parent talks at orientation sessions and meet with the Hauenstein Advisory Cabinet. I’ll meet with Gayle to finalize my goals for the coming academic year, and I’ll begin meeting with unit heads to talk evaluation of 2012-13 and to look ahead to their goals for 2013-14. In between, there’s also a scatter of meetings with individuals about a variety of issues.”
The timely reporting of final grades is the focus at the end of the month for AD Mary Schutten. She will be supporting student success by continuing to work with Records to create efficiencies, most notably the change in the degree cognate for BS degrees and mathematics placement processes. She will be busy with many data gathering projects due this month including the review of courses for transfer credit, the Presidential Honor Roll, and the student success collaborative. She continues to work on student issues, support the work of the CLAS Academic Advising Center and registration and orientation activities, the transfer research group, and will continue work related to curriculum proposals.
In addition to the normal summer activities related to office allocations for new faculty and staff, review of self-study and assessment reports, and planning for events in 2013-14, AD Shaily Menon will attend several meetings and conferences in June. She will attend and make a presentation at the American Society for Quality (ASQ) conference on Advancing the STEM agenda held at GVSU. She will also attend a Michigan deans conference at the University of Michigan, Dearborn and a Pierce Foundation event in Hastings, Michigan. At GVSU she will attend a meeting to brainstorm ideas for supporting part-time faculty, a meeting of the Community Engagement Advisory Committee, and will volunteer at the CLAS scholarship fundraising golf event.
In June, Associate Dean Gary Stark will be monitoring enrollments for 2nd summer session and Fall & Winter semesters, assisting the Dean with prioritizing position/search requests for 2013/14, implementing suggested improvements to Digital Measures, attending meeting of the Michigan Deans at the University of Michigan Dearborn on June 11, assisting units with hiring of visitors for 2013/14, and dealing with various faculty and staff personnel issues.
Fall Arts Celebration Schedule
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 5-7 p.m.
Art Opening Reception
An Artist’s Journey”
ART GALLERY, PAC
Exhibition runs: Aug. 23-Nov. 1
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
“Music from La Belle
Époque: Chamber Music
for Winds from Turn-of the-Century Paris”
LOUIS ARMSTRONG THEATRE, PAC
MONDAY, OCTOBER 7
“I Heard the Sirens Scream”
2ND FL L.V. EBERHARD CENTER, ROBERT C. PEW GRAND RAPIDS CAMPUS
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25
“An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Christian Wiman and Pattiann Rogers”
2ND FL L.V. EBERHARD CENTER, ROBERT C. PEWGRAND RAPIDS CAMPUS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4
Dance--“Memories of Summer —The American Identity in Dance”
LOUIS ARMSTRONG THEATRE, PAC
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9
“A Very English Christmas: Music of the Season from the British Isles”
FOUNTAIN STREET CHURCH
Dwayne Tunstall and the Philosophy of Personal Commitments
This year saw the publication of Assistant Professor Dwayne Tunstall’s second book, Doing Philosophy Personally: Thinking about Metaphysics, Theism, and Antiblack Racism (Fordham University Press, 2013). This philosopher’s reading of French philosopher Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973) has been called “uniquely insightful” and “extremely lucid” by scholars such as Terrance MacMullan of Eastern Washington University for its account of Marcel’s philosophy in a way that appreciates its strengths and also exposes its blind spots.
Professor Tunstall is the first to admit that we all have what he calls extra-philosophical commitments, our biases that we may want to overcome or to question, but which will tend to be the lens through which our thinking occurs. In the case of Gabriel Marcel, there is a commitment to exposing dehumanization in late Western modernity, but also a failure to look at one of its most ubiquitous forms, anti-black racism. This is the intellectual dissonance that interests Professor Tunstall.
Tunstall saw extra philosophical commitments with which he agreed in philosophers such as Marcel and Louis R. Gordon (b. 1962) and decided to consider them together. This is probably the first pairing of these two thinkers and in Tunstall’s treatment, that comparison is quite productive. If what makes life worth living is our relationships to others and being spiritually available to them, as Marcel argues, then how must we act if we also believe that the threat of depersonalization (as Gordon posits) when people are faced with racism? Are we not compelled to combat racism in all its forms?
For Tunstall, what is key is not a god separated from us, but instead our encounters with other people that make us better. In this way God is real as an ideal we can embody through our interactions. “That seems, phenomenologically speaking, to be a better way of talking about God,” Tunstall says.
Tunstall makes use of African American philosophy to correct the omissions of European philosophy. Placing African American philosophers in direct conversation with European and Euro-American philosophers widens the existing field. This approach allows us to keep what is best in Marcel without succumbing to its blind sides.
The book also exposes Professor Tunstall’s own extra-philosophical commitments such as his belief that a god worth considering would not tolerate depersonalization, a view inspired by William R. Jones’ influential 1973 book Is God A White Racist?: A Preamble to Black Theology.
For Tunstall, history is a rich vein of evidence, but we must not cherry pick. Our theological conceptions are well tested by their handling of oppressed peoples. He hopes his work will be useful not only for those interested in European philosophy, but also those interested in religious studies, American philosophy and scholars of African American Studies. He would also like readers outside of academe interested in thinking about anti-black racism and extra-philosophical commitments. As he explains, “First, I want readers to think about how anti-black racism has depersonalized people of African descent in the past and continues to do so today. Second, I want people to realize how philosophers interpret the world via their ‘extra-philosophical commitments,’ or the set of biases, prejudices, and commitments that motivates them to philosophize in the first place.”
CLAS Faculty Governance Chairs for 2013-2014
CLAS Faculty Council--George Lundskow
CLAS Personnel Committee--Melissa Morison
CLAS Faculty Development Committee--Heather Van Wormer
CLAS Curriculum Committee--Regina Smith
Page last modified April 28, 2016