On the Earth, in the Environment

On the Earth, in the Environment

Update from the desk of Associate Dean Guerra

The end of the spring semester is always a time of celebration at Rowan University.  Having watched the School of Earth and Environment Commencement Ceremony remotely due to unforeseen, necessary travel, I experienced joy in once again being a part of the educational processes that improved so many people’s lives.  The student speaker at this year’s commencement, Aarushi Gupta, who completed her studies in the Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability (GPS), prompted me to think about the importance of community within the School and the Department, as well as the importance of recognizing the many achievements to which we have all contributed.

Aarushi spoke of the strong community within GPS that supported and encouraged her through her time at Rowan.  Aarushi’s experience reflects the long history within the Department of supporting students, and it provides a signpost towards the community building I’d like to accomplish for the School as well.  To that end, over the past year the Dean’s Office has initiated several activities in the hopes of fostering cross-department and program interaction, including monthly pizza parties, gatherings of faculty and staff on reading day and around the holidays, and preliminary steps towards a community calendar where we can all keep abreast of what’s going on in the other departments and in the Dean’s Office.  These activities are supported by our amazing Dean’s Office staff, especially Jen Totora and Andrea Siwek.  I am also planning to hold a charette with our community to generate ideas for events during the fall semester that will include outdoor activities, possible at Robinson Circle and Time Sweeps.  We will also be building a community bulletin board in Discovery Hall.  Stay tuned for more information on all of these initiatives in the lead up to the fall semester.

The Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability’s strong focus on excellence in teaching and mentoring is a significant, though not singular, reason behind the many successes of students such as Aarushi.  GPS faculty have excellent, innovative pedagogical approaches and offer a well-thought-out curriculum.  I have been able to observe those features of the department up-close this past year, as I worked with several faculty on important curricula initiatives for the School.  This focus is shared throughout the School of Earth and Environment amongst all of its faculty and departments.  I have also had the privilege of encountering several GPS students in Discovery Hall, and I have always been impressed with their strong intellect and community engagement.  I am quite confident in these students representing the School of Earth and Environment and all that it stands for.

As our faculty enter the summer months, I encourage each of you to head into the season with a plan of what you wish to accomplish.  Summer is a great time to get caught up on research, as well as the innovative teaching strategies that are a hallmark of the Department.  Please also include in that plan time for rest and refreshment, as fall will be here before you know it!  As always, please keep in touch and let me know how I might assist you!