Dean's Messages

Spring 2021: Now More Than Ever

January 25, 2021

As we ready ourselves to start a new semester, I’d like to welcome everyone back!

After an extended winter break, the sights and sounds of students walking across campus, preparing for classes, and assembling on Zoom is an inspiring reminder that—despite all of the adjustments we must continue to make—our shared commitment to education and to the betterment of ourselves and our world remains as strong as ever.

To our students: thank you for making your Cornhusker Commitment, downloading the Safer Community app, participating in the saliva testing program, and doing your part to protect your health and the health of our university community.

To the faculty and staff of the college who continue to advance our educational, research, and outreach missions under personally and professionally trying circumstances: thank you! You set a powerful example every day of dedicated, talented, and caring professionals who are committed to extending the reach and impact of the transformative power of higher education.

When we asked for four volunteers to help the university expand its capacity for contact tracing, nine people quickly stepped up to offer their help. This is just one example—of many that I see every day—of people throughout the college who embody the principle and spirit of service to others.

The great response that we witnessed from across the college to our first CAS Day of Service—focused on addressing food insecurity in our community—is another example of what I cherish about the people in this college.

As we begin our spring semester in 2021 amid the ongoing challenges brought upon by the pandemic, I have been reflecting upon the origins and founding mission of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the context of the unique times in which we live.

Now more than ever, our society needs people who appreciate, champion, and perpetuate the life-saving importance of deep and thorough learning, critical and imaginative thinking in pursuit of truth, and the free exchange of ideas anchored by respect for the dignity of all people and cultures. These are the qualities of mind and character that we have turned to, and must rely upon, when confronted with new and unprecedented challenges. These traits do not guarantee or even lead to agreement, but without these qualities, we lack a common basis with which to navigate or reap the blessings of our interconnected lives.

As we prepare for the distribution of vaccines, take action to reverse global climate change, combat the persistence of racial inequalities and ethnic and gender disparities throughout our society, and assume responsibility for the health of our democracy—higher education and every field of inquiry within the liberal arts will play a critical role.

For these reasons, among many others, I believe the College of Arts and Sciences is as vital to the future of the state of Nebraska and to our shared world as it was when it first opened its doors as the founding college here in 1871.

To help us chart the course for the next five years, the college will complete its comprehensive strategic plan this spring. I invite you to participate in this important process and help us realize our ambitious vision to be a leading liberal arts college dedicated to transforming lives and improving our world.

I look forward to continuing our work together and seeing what the ingenuity and creativity of the people of CAS will make possible in 2021 and beyond.


Fall 2020 Welcome Back to Campus:
Where We Are Now and Where We're Going

August 18, 2020

Welcome to the start of the fall 2020 academic semester. To all of our new and returning students: we are so excited that you are members of our CAS community. 

The dedicated faculty and staff of the college have been busy over the summer preparing for your arrival on campus – taking new and unprecedented steps to help keep you safe and healthy while advancing our college’s core commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate education across all of the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. As members of our Husker community, I hope you will join me in making the Cornhusker Commitment to take the necessary steps to stay well and protect each other.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created some disruptions to the ways in which we must conduct our day-to-day operations this fall, our passion for scientific discovery and creative activity remains undiminished. Through imagination, innovation, and collaboration we will transform lives and improve our world – that is the guiding vision of “CAS 2025 and Beyond.” Through your intellectual curiosity, creative imagination, and dedication to improving the conditions of our shared natural and social world, you can help us realize this vision during your time on our campus.  

Students in the College and Arts and Sciences are prepared to be life-long learners, leaders, and innovators through their active participation in a comprehensive liberal arts education with a focus on experiential learning. With a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences our graduates have the knowledge, skills, and cultural awareness necessary to flourish in a rapidly changing global economy because they are prepared to think critically, communicate clearly, live ethically, and work effectively with diverse groups of people to address complex real-world problems.

In this historic moment of national reckoning about systemic racism and racial injustice, CAS is committed to cultivating the necessary institutional and cultural conditions for racial justice and equity on our campus and beyond. CAS will be a leader in expanding opportunities and reducing barriers to higher education, advancing diversity, and promoting inclusion because we know that these actions are integral to achieving excellence in education, research, and public engagement. Starting this academic year, we have taken several additional steps to advance inclusive excellence on our campus and promote racial and ethnic justice in our world, including:

  • Welcoming one of our most diverse undergraduate student cohorts in CAS history
  • Implementing a new college distribution requirement: Human Diversity in U.S. Communities
  • Launching the CAS Cares fund to support college degree completion for students at risk of leaving college without a degree
  • Establishing CAS Connects to ensure that, within the college, every new student has access to upper-level students to start building connections

We know that we have more work to do to ensure that we are creating a climate at UNL that emphasizes, prioritizes, and expands inclusive excellence and diversity. The college invites your ideas and active participation in this vital work.

Across the college and the entire university, faculty, staff, and students have stepped up in extraordinary ways to help us respond to the manifold challenges of this moment. If we maintain our focus on the core missions of the college and continue to exercise empathy and compassion with each other, I am confident that we will come out of this period proud of what we have achieved together and equally proud of the manner in which we have conducted ourselves in the face of these challenges. Now more than ever, we must show through our daily actions that “every person and every interaction matters.”


Commitment to Inclusion and Anti-Racist Action

June 5, 2020

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in police custody, I know that many of our Black students and students of color are hurting. On behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences, we share your grief and anger.

The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to an interdisciplinary, liberal arts approach in promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and throughout our society. We condemn racism, bigotry, and injustice and stand in solidarity with all those using nonviolent means to demand justice and dignity for all people. The discrimination and fear that Blacks and other minorities experience today remains a barrier to equal justice and human dignity.

I believe as scholars, teachers, and engaged citizens, we have a shared responsibility to identify and uproot systemic racism within our primary institutions and advance social justice and equality. The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to the land grant mission of UNL and as the dean of the college, I am prepared to support our state leaders in their efforts to reform the criminal justice system and ensure justice and equal freedom for all people.

I expect our college to continue to listen to, respect, and offer support to our Black and underrepresented students, staff, and faculty as we strive to create and maintain a welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment for everyone.


Inspiring Scientific and Cultural Discovery
to Improve the Human Condition.

August, 2019

Welcome to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the academic heart of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In this college you will find a rich diversity of immensely talented faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to pursuing excellence in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. CAS embodies the foundational charter of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by "affording all the inhabitants of the state the means of acquiring a thorough knowledge of the various branches of literature, science, and the arts."

We are a large, diverse, and collaborative community of scholars who are united in advancing our knowledge of the human, social, and physical worlds and exploring the complex interactions between these domains of inquiry. CAS faculty are also united by our shared sense of responsibility to contribute through our scholarship, teaching, and service to the good of the people of Nebraska, the country, and the world. In doing so, we are committed to valuing multiple perspectives, embracing excellence through diversity of all kinds, and honoring and defending academic freedom and the spirit of open and endless critical inquiry.

The College of Arts and Sciences at Nebraska offers opportunities to let your curiosity and passion find new realms of exploration and discovery. As dean of the college, my aspiration for every student in CAS is that you will have at least one transformative learning experience during your time on our campus – whether that is in the lab, in the field, through an internship, or a study-abroad opportunity.

A degree in any one of the college's 33 majors (along with 57 minors) is a life-long investment in the endless cultivation of one's mind, scientific awareness, and cultural and ethical sensibilities. A degree from CAS will also prepare you for success in the world because today's employers are looking for individuals who can think critically, communicate clearly, and work effectively with diverse groups of people to address complex real-world problems.

CAS is dedicated to providing a rigorous liberal arts education that will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective, responsible, and ethical citizens of the world. At home and throughout our interconnected world, we face a wide range of significant environmental, social, and moral challenges. The College of Arts and Sciences is where tomorrow's leaders can begin their own journey toward making a positive difference in the world today.

I encourage you to explore the college's website and reach out and connect with our dedicated faculty, staff, and students about how you can begin to co-create your own educational experience at Nebraska. I am confident that you will find that CAS personifies the motto of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

Literis dedicata et omnibus artibus – "Dedicated to letters and all the arts."

Mark E. Button

Mark E. Button
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Professor, Department of Political Science

Anti-Racism Commitment

Cornhusker Commitment