The month of April, according to the Bard, “Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing.” Texas is a far cry from the English countryside, but following last year’s record drought, abundant rains have restored a bit of youthful green to our campus. It is a fitting backdrop for the new College of Liberal Arts building, unfolding like a fresh bloom as it nears completion on the East Mall.
It will be a place of great energy, an exciting destination for students, faculty, alumni and visitors, a veritable marketplace of ideas that will inspire interaction and collaboration in new and exciting ways.
Our new building also demonstrates a youthful boldness in its innovative approaches to funding and design. In our regular building update in this issue of Life & Letters, we examine how the project represents much more than a new home for the College of Liberal Arts. Indeed, we are rewriting the book on how colleges build for the future.
Our faculty rewrite the book every day when it comes to innovative teaching and research that bring tremendous benefits to our students and to our society. This issue looks at the work of Sandra Black, a professor in our Department of Economics, who is examining a topic that is important to many parents: What is the best age for a child to start school? Professor Black’s innovative research looks at long-term outcomes ranging from academic performance to income inequalities.
Our cover story also demonstrates the depth of our research in the humanities with an examination of the changes in Texas dialects. Lars Hinrichs, an associate professor of language and linguistics and director of the Texas English Project, shows us how shifting dialects reveal much about our history, our changing culture and ourselves.
Our students share our faculty’s passion for discovery and the pursuit of the highest standards of academic achievement and public service. One of our doctoral students in English, Rachel Mazique, shows us in the Q&A section how the tireless pursuit of knowledge extends far beyond the classroom in her advocacy work on behalf of the deaf.
Spring is indeed an appropriate time to remember that the spirit of youth is available to anyone at any age when they participate in the life and learning of a world-class university.
Randy L. Diehl,
Dean, College of Liberal Arts