From the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Dean John C. Allen

Dean John C. Allen addresses students at the college’s annual A Light on the Hill event in September. The twilight ceremony is an opportunity for students to meet their peers and be welcomed into a community of scholars.

A Message from the Dean John C. Allen

Greetings from Old Main and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

This has been a spectacular fall semester for our students and faculty. We began the year with our annual A Light on the Hill ceremony where students and faculty meet at the amphitheater on Old Main Hill to welcome new students into our community of scholars. Walking by tables staffed by the college’s various club members I heard French, Spanish, and philosophical discussions concerning political and social issues. Elder Grant Bulltail, a visiting scholar from the Crow Nation, provided us with a short tale focusing on the need to share our knowledge. I couldn’t agree more.

In this issue of Liberalis we are focusing on the impact our faculty, students, and graduates have at home and abroad. In today’s interconnected world, our students need opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they are gaining while also building a sense of responsibility for their community and beyond. Our feature story “Beyond Utah” highlights how journalism is changing, but remains as important as ever. Read about Kerry Bringhurst, ’88, who provides on air news for Utah Public Radio and plays a key role in supporting and training interns in broadcasting.

Abdulkafi Albirini, assistant professor of Arabic, keeps his eye on Syria and the revolution taking place there. His investigations into the language of the revolution are of both personal and professional interest to the native-born Syrian. Dr. Albirini was hired to fill the need for teaching Arabic language and culture to our students. He recently helped establish the university’s first study abroad trip to the Middle East. Our students are better served because of his efforts.

Our faculty members have local focuses as well. Associate professor Maria Luisa Spicer-Escalante is often recruited to visit area middle schools to encourage Latino students and their families to consider seeking higher education opportunities. She has helped document the experience of Hispanics in Cache Valley as part of the award-winning Latino Voices Project. The work she does will help Utah State become a destination for all students.

Political science professors Huiyun Feng and Kai He are conducting important work in East Asia, where they focus on understanding the relationships between the super powers of the United States and China. Their new book analyzes the sometimes erratic political behavior of Asian countries and provides an optimistic view of the future.

You will read a sensitive account of senior Audrey Merrill’s trip to Rwanda with assistant professors Maggie Zraly and Rebecca Walton. Their work helping Rwandans reimagine their world in the decades after the 1994 genocide is captured in the story “Building Something New.”

We hope these stories encourage you to play a role in supporting the ambitious efforts of our students and faculty. This year our Student Opportunity Fund, with a focus on creating student scholarships, has been a great success. With pledges from alumni and faculty we have now identified more than 20 scholarships to support our students. We are continuing to raise funds to help students have opportunities overseas and in domestic settings. We welcome any support you might be able to provide.

Have an exemplary New Year and stop by when you are in town.


John C. Allen