Interim A&S College Dean is looking to make a positive impact Monday, Jan 13 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

After one week on the job, Arts & Sciences College interim Dean David Owen feels like he is already settled into his new position.

“I think she [Kempf-Leonard] left the college in solid shape,” said Owen. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t any work to be done. Owen shared his goals for his tenure Jan. 2, and one of them is keeping morale in a progressive state.

Kempf-Leonard focused on this during her five-year tenure. Owen said that although this area can be challenging, the place the College is in right now gives him a lot to work with and maintain this progress.

“They’re happy that we’re going to really do some intentional work on morale,” said Owen. “So I’m hearing feedback, positive feedback about that.”

He said he’s also fortunate that there hasn’t been any mention of budget cuts so far. “We don’t know yet exactly about [budget cuts], but everybody seems to be anticipating more or less a steady state budget, which is good news,” said Owen.

While keeping morale at a good place is a major priority, Owen wants to pass off the College to the next dean in a good place. “I need to be sure that I hand to the next dean a College that’s in as good shape as possible,” he said. “And that means having a good budget for next year.”

As the University of Louisville moves to a new budget model this year, Owen knows this is going to be a challenge he faces, but he is already praising his associate deans and staff for being helping hands along the way. “We have really great associate and assistant deans, [and] great senior staff over here,” he said. “They’ll make sure the college keeps running smoothly.”

Owen also wants to focus more on retention within the A&S College. One of the ways he plans on doing that is by becoming more visible to the students in the College. “My job is to make it so that students can flourish in their educational career,” he said.

Since he has already been serving as chair of philosophy, this won’t be as much of a challenge for him. “I do know a lot of students, and it’s nice to walk across campus and talk to students,” said Owen. “I think that’s helpful to know students, and I’m teaching this term, so getting to learn, getting to meet and get to know some newer students in my class [will help].”

Similar to Kempf-Leonard, one of the reasons he took on the role as interim dean was to help others. Along with teaching this semester, he said that he feels taking on this role will re-energize him while also making an impact on the College.

“I think we’re prepared to grow and move into the 2020s,” said Owen.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville 

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Interim Arts & Science College dean shares goals for 2020 Monday, Jan 6 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

After Arts & Science College Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard submitted her early retirement in December, the announcement came that David Owen would serve as the interim dean. Owen sent an email Jan. 2 to the college detailing his goals for his interim appointment.

“I am honored to have been appointed interim dean of A&S and I look forward to working together to fulfill the A&S mission,” said Owen. “The core of A&S is its people – from engaged students, to talented staff and brilliant faculty – and we must be sure that we recognize the valuable contributions each of us makes to the success of the college.”

Owen said that his main goal during his tenure as dean is to pass on a strong and vibrant college to the next dean. In the email, he listed what he wants to achieve:

  • Take positive steps towards improving morale amongst staff and faculty;
  • End the fiscal year in the black and with the college on sound financial footing;
  • Prepare a FY21 budget that maximizes our ability to fulfill the A&S mission and enables a strategic investment in college priorities;
  • Guide the transition to the new budget model and ensure that department chairs and Dean’s office staff have a comprehensive understanding of the new model;
  • Develop and implement a communication plan that promotes transparency;
  • Build on our on-going efforts to increase retention of A&S students.

“We have exceptional leadership already in place in the college—associate deans, assistant deans, department chairs, and others—who will ensure that A&S can continue to provide exceptional educational opportunities to students,” said Owen.

He is also the Chair of the Philosophy department in the A&S College. His interim term is set to last through the Spring 2020 semester, while the A&S College searches for a full-time replacement.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with you as we strive to achieve these goals,” said Owen. “And I am very appreciative of the contributions each of you make to our mission.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Dean Kempf-Leonard reflects on her time at U of L Saturday, Dec 14 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

One of the first words that came to mind for Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard when looking back on her time at the University of Louisville was “joy.” She said that her time at U of L was filled with it, but along with all the pleasantries came stress.

Coming from Southern Illinois University in 2014, Kempf-Leonard arrived at U of L during a tumultuous, yet hopeful time. “There was a lot of talk of all this new money that was coming in,” said Kempf-Leonard. “I was eager to come to a university that was growing and I could focus my energies on building and that’s what I really like to do.”

One of her first challenges as dean would be building a better sense of community between individual departments in the Arts & Sciences College. “I had a parade of people in here, each telling me about how great their department was or I went to their departments and each department told me how wonderful they were, but they didn’t know much about their colleagues in other departments as it seemed to me,” said Kempf-Leonard.

Kempf-Leonard felt the effects of building a closer community recently. “I in fact had a staff member retired recently who had worked here for well over 30 years, and she said that she thought I was the first dean who knew her name,” said Kempf-Leonard. “It made me cry that other people didn’t know her name.”

In addition to that, one of Kempf-Leonard’s proudest moments came earlier this year when U of L opened the new space for the Master of Fine Arts. “I think it’s very relevant to have an MFA in Fine Arts, but you can’t very well become accomplished artists if you don’t have a studio,” said Kempf-Leonard.

This moment felt especially impactful for her because she said that it addresses the issue of the Ninth Street divide in Louisville. She said that if U of L wants to keep its upward trajectory, they must get involved with city-wide issues as well. “I think that although the University of Louisville has had what we call a ‘signature partnership’ to work in trying to help the West End of Louisville for over 10 years now, I haven’t seen the needle move,” said Kempf-Leonard.

Although that area may be lacking, Kempf-Leonard feels good leaving U of L knowing it has some of the top teachers and researchers in America. She mentioned how special it is that U of L is a Carnegie R1. This allows for students to be involved and interact with professors whose work will be in the textbooks used in academia.

Even during the struggling times of her tenure she talked about how the faculty and staff really stood behind U of L, which she said was special. “I think it’s quite telling that our faculty, who are high achievers, and could go anywhere; our staff who are also very excellent, [and] mostly local, want to stay,” said Kempf-Leonard. “During our worst times we didn’t have the attrition that I had thought we would. And they stayed cause they like working with each other.”

Something that Kempf-Leonard wishes she would have done more during her time is empower others. She said she tried to delegate work when necessary so everyone would have the information they needed.

Her favorite part of the dean’s job was the problem solving she did. She always enjoyed when people would come to her with new ideas or initiatives to help solve problems within their department of the university. “That’s been the most rewarding,” said Kempf-Leonard.

But her time as dean didn’t come without any regrets. One of the things she wishes she could have done is to raise salaries throughout the college. “The salaries that people are paid here are not competitive, and I would have very much liked to have been able to help both out faculty and staff [in that regard],” said Kempf-Leonard.

As she leaves she said that the biggest challenge for the new dean will be practicing what they preach. “That’s one of the hallmarks is to be adaptable; be innovative; be accepting of change; be a promoter of change,” said Kempf-Leonard. “But there’s a wealth of resources among the faculty and staff and students here.”

She had one word of advice for the new dean: Listen. “My first semester I was invited to many departments, department meetings, to meet people and tour their facilities. And without exception, each one asked me what my vision was for the College,” said Kemp-Leonard. She used these meetings to help her build the vision for Arts and Sciences. “I knew I just wanted to be helpful and I was eager to get on that upward trajectory,” she said.

She said she has been busy in her last month making sure everyone has the right information they need and things are in the right place. Even though her departure came sooner than expected, she said she feels good about leaving things where they are.

Kempf-Leonard has been at U of L for 10 years and has been the A&S College dean since 2014. Her tenure was set to end at the end of the Spring 2020 semester, but she submitted an early resignation citing personal issues in early December.

Dec. 31 will be her last day as A&S dean. The search for a new dean of the College has been ongoing since August. David Owen was announced as the interim Dean Dec. 13.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Dean addresses faculty and staff for the last time Friday, Sep 20 2019 

By Maggie Vancampen —

Arts & Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard highlighted successes from the last academic year in her last “State of the College” address in the Humanities building Sept. 13. Those included tenured physics professors publishing in nine journals and departments receiving large grants and awards.

Regarding the grants, she said, “We tell our students that persuasive writing is important in all careers and we certainly are demonstrating that with our work.”

The dean said growing collaboration is foremost in the college’s teaching mission too. There are new majors crossing disciplines like Neuroscience, Sustainability, LGTBQ Health Certificate and the 3+3 Program with Brandeis Law School.

She said that the administration recognizes the college’s willingness to collaborate. “I hope that the momentum in this area can continue to grow,” she said.

Kempf-Leonard places a premium on the community outreach Arts & Sciences does. “We are engaged with the world too,” she said. “And all though many universities purport to help their local communities, the devotion, especially of Arts and Sciences faculty, staff and students, I believe distinguish the University of Louisville from many universities.”

The dean said Professors at the Ville, the Leadership Lunch Series, Poetry Derby and Museums Professionals Network created programs, lectures, internships and research within the community.

She talked about the success of some of the community conferences including the Congress for New Urbanism, hosted by the Urban and Public Affairs faculty and staff, and the 20th Century Literature Conference.

“I would like to highlight ways in which the College of Arts and Sciences is on the move, action-oriented and dynamic,” she said. She talked about how Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies changed it’s name and how the Anthropology department created the Center for Archeology and Cultural Heritage.

The dean created new funding for undergraduate research targeting sophomores to make them more interested in research partnerships.

She said more midsummer classes made it easier for students to drop and add classes in the middle of the semester so their financial aid wasn’t affected.

She said faculty from five different departments participated in syllabus review training, peer-to-peer teaching evaluations and sessions on teaching portfolios to improve. “I believe we are well on our way in the Arts and Sciences to being able to showcase our teaching prowess,” she said.

“Although we didn’t handle it as well as we should have, and budge cuts and changes from Grawemeyer and HR made our tasks harder, we do finally have staffing in compliance with mandated fiscal cross checks and are able to provide appropriate support for our academic missions,” she said.

The dean said declining enrollment and retention within the university are troublesome, especially because U of L gets most of its money from tuition-paying students. But all faculty and staff are slated to get a two-percent raise beginning in January, per the budget passed in June.

“I don’t believe the institutional changes we have made have affected our mission-directed work, but I do know it has affected morale, and a great many progressive ideas that we have had, and didn’t get to pursue,” she said. “I believe that now is a brighter time, though, I really do.”

“We are ready, I think, to put our skills and innovation to good use in ways we haven’t before maybe, to help higher education in Kentucky,” Kempf-Leonard said. “I’m happy to report that the majority of our internal corrections last year, through that vigorous review process, were successful.” She also wants to increase the number of full-time tenure-track faculty who primarily teach.

She asked that all faculty be nimble despite possibly being weary of change. She said, “It isn’t the strongest who succeed, but rather it is those who are most adaptable, work collaboratively, and live within their means.”

Kempf-Leonard said that biochemistry professor Michael Nantz is representing the college well while they look for a permanent vice president of research.

She said Associate Dean for Research Robert Buchanan is working behind the scenes so the college can have more grant opportunities. “He’s also launching several new outreach efforts into departments this year, for faculty who are new, for those who haven’t written grants before and for multidisciplinary experts who might come together as innovative, collaborative teams.”

Photo by Maggie Vancampen // The Louisville Cardinal

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