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Arts and Sciences Magazine

Letter from the Dean

Dear Friends and Alumni,

It has been an exciting and energizing fall semester on campus, especially with the opening of our new Student Center. The $99M facility has been positively packed with students enjoying the comfortable seating, many food options, game room, meeting rooms and, of course, Starbucks coffee. We are getting very close to the completion of another major project on campus – the $43M renovation of Dunbar Hall. In addition to active learning classrooms, Dunbar will feature a Dance Studio; an academic advising suite; three HyFlex classrooms allowing remote students to participate in classes held in person; a School of Communication Media Suite; and inviting informal study areas throughout the building.
This fall we are also celebrating the launch of our new School of Environment, Geography, and Sustainability, as well as the launch of our new Tribal Governance Graduate Certificate program, housed in the School of Public Affairs and Administration. The State of Michigan has been a tremendous supporter and partner this year, recognizing and investing in excellence across the college. Our Autism Center of Excellence will receive a $4M grant, allowing us to greatly expand services provided by the Kalamazoo Autism Center (KAC) to children in our community with autism spectrum disorder. The Michigan Geological Survey (MGS) will receive nearly $6M to build a new facility, a $5M grant for aggregate mapping and ongoing operational funding of $3M per year. The KAC and the MGS engage our faculty and students in cutting-edge scholarship, provide training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students and have an enormously positive impact on the broader community. I am truly grateful to our state legislature for making this critical work possible.
This edition of our college magazine highlights just a few of the incredible accomplishments of our outstanding faculty, students, staff and alumni. As you will see, the College of Arts and Sciences continues to transform lives and communities through our commitment to academic excellence; diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; outstanding research and creative activities; and strong community partnerships. Enjoy! 
 — Dr. Carla Koretsky, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences 


New in Arts and Sciences

Rendering of Dunbar Hall

Preserving History, Embracing the Future

A wave of excitement is building as the highly anticipated renovation of Dunbar Hall, an academic landmark that has served tens of thousands of students over the decades, nears completion.

  • Dr. Benjamin Ofori-Amoah

    School of Environment, Geography, and Sustainability

    Dr. Benjamin Ofori-Amoah, founding director of the new School of Environment, Geography, and Sustainability, would like to make WMU the first-choice school for students interested in the environment, geography and sustainability.

    Read about the new school

  • Tribal Governance Graduate Certificate

    A milestone was reached in March 2023 with the approval of a groundbreaking new program—the region's only graduate certificate in tribal governance, offered by the School of Public Affairs and Administration.

    Read about the program

  • Michigan Geological Survey

    A new chapter begins for the Michigan Geological Survey (MGS) as it secured a substantial funding surge of $14 million from the state of Michigan that promises to bolster the survey's efforts and lead to advancements in geological research and resource management.

    Read about MGS

Alumni News

LZ Granderson

Inspiring the next generation of journalists

Life has come full circle for LZ Granderson: graduating from Western Michigan University, achieving an award-winning career as a journalist and then returning this fall as a visiting scholar in the School of Communication.

Melinda Moustakis

From childhood poems to literary Alaska: Dr. Melinda Moustakis’ journey to authorship

Emotional short stories and melodramatic poems provided the childhood building blocks for Western Michigan University alumna and author Dr. Melinda Moustakis’s exceptional career. Her work has attracted numerous accolades including the Flannery O’ Connor Award, the O. Henry Prize, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 selection, and it has been positively reviewed by numerous media outlets, including NPR and the Sunday New York Times.

Department of Mathematics receives $7 million endowment for student scholarships

The David P. Burns Endowment, which constitutes the single largest donation in the history of the Department of Mathematics, will be used to support scholarships for undergraduate and graduate mathematics students.

Alumna’s HBO documentary shines light on medical errors

In the aftermath of a harrowing family medical crisis, Margo (Towe) Burrows, an alumna of Western Michigan University's School of Communication, unexpectedly found herself on a new career trajectory. When her mother-in-law fell into a coma following what was supposed to be a routine partial hip replacement surgery, Burrows embarked on a fervent ten-year-long quest to uncover critical medical errors in pursuit of justice.

Faculty News

Mohamed Sultan

The world is his lab

Where passion meets excellence, you find Dr. Mohamed Sultan. An award-winning, internationally-recognized professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Sultan balances his roles as a devoted family man, inspiring educator and relentless researcher. But at his core lies an enduring love for geosciences and remote sensing.

  • Dr. Andrew Thompson

    WMU biologist helps settle 50-year-old fish evolution debate

    Growing up surrounded by fish tanks and nearby creeks, Dr. Andrew Thompson's passion for aquatic life ignited at an early age. His curiosity led him to spend time learning about different fish species, which eventually paved the way for his career in fish genome research.

    Read about Dr. Thompson

  • Dr. Sally Hadden

    WMU historian awarded National Humanities Center fellowship

    Dr. Sally Hadden, a professor in the Department of History, earned a prestigious one-year fellowship from the National Humanities Center—the first time a Western faculty member has received the fellowship.

    Read about Hadden's work

  • More Faculty News

    Economics instructor honored for supporting, empowering students with disabilities

    This year’s winner of the Disability Services for Students Faculty Advocate Award, Dr. Jean Kimmel of the Department of Economics, went above and beyond to accommodate and advocate for her students.

    Physics professor honored with Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award

    Western Michigan University’s Dr. Charles Henderson was recognized for his exceptional work to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning for undergraduates.

    Dr. Chansheng He receives third Fulbright award

    Western Michigan University's Dr. Chansheng He was awarded his third Fulbright Specialist Program award in February 2023, cementing his status as a world-leading scholar in hydrology and water resource management.

Student News

Dale Brown in Lakeland Correctional Facility

Doctoral student launches WMU Higher Education for the Justice-Involved program

Brown's commitment to the transformative power of higher education has driven the establishment, in August 2023, of a program that will provide incarcerated individuals the opportunity to pursue and obtain a Bachelor's degree from Western. Entitled Higher Education for the Justice-Involved (HEJI), the program spearheaded by Brown will require its students to complete at least 122 credits within five years in order to earn a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences through the Student Planned Major program.

Byron Miller in Mongolian family home

How Mongolia's herding culture shaped a doctoral candidate's journey

Nestled amidst a tapestry of contrasting terrains, from mountains and plains to deserts and forests, Mongolia and its herding population have captured the academic imagination of Western Michigan University Department of Sociology doctoral candidate Byron Miller.

  • More Student News

    Undergraduate, faculty research published in Biochemistry

    Six undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Chemistry recently published their research findings in Biochemistry, a prestigious journal of the American Chemical Society. Their project, led by Dr. Frederick Stull, expands on the Stull research group’s prior work, which focused on investigating fundamental chemistry that may lead to novel nicotine cessation therapies.

    From childhood microscopes to cutting-edge research

    When faced with a scientific mystery, Western Michigan University doctoral candidate Samantha Hack cannot help but try to solve it. A detective in the biological sciences currently interested in adult stem cells and tissue regeneration in flatworms, Hack has dedicated herself to pursuing research in Western’s biological studies programs since her undergraduate studies.

    WMU student takes passion for activism to Washington D.C.

    Having secured a coveted Victory Congressional Internship (VCI), Western Michigan University student Raymond Falkiewicz journeyed to the nation's capital last summer determined to knock down barriers and champion the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Cover of 2023 CAS magazine

This year we celebrate new and exciting programs and offerings — from stories about new certificates and buildings to scientific exploration and impactful internships.