By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Dr. Gregory Kordsmeier, associate professor of sociology, has been named Interim Dean of the School of Social Sciences for the 2020-2021 academic year.
He succeeds Dr. Kelly Ryan, now Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (EVCAA).
Dr. Kordsmeier has taught the Sociology of Health and Medicine, Social Problems, Social Theory, and Social Research Methods. He is a two-time winner of the Trustees Teaching Award that recognizes excellence in teaching on the IUS campus, and currently serves as the editor of TRAILS, the American Sociological Association’s Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology. His research has focused on social interaction in culture industries. Dr. Kordsmeier spoke with Academic Information Officer Steven Krolak.
What is your vision for the School of Social Sciences?
I want Social Sciences to continue to be the student-centered place that it has been. For my part, I have tried to live this commitment to students through my commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. Teaching and learning are not the only ways that we serve students in the School of Social Sciences–we also mentor, advise, and in general try to make people feel more welcome. A big focus will be on persistence and retention–how can we help students who start at Indiana University Southeast successfully complete their journeys with us? I also want to keep telling our story to the wider world. We have a lot to be proud of at IU Southeast generally, and the School of Social Sciences specifically. We serve as a key institution in this region and its important that we make that clear to the wider community.
What do you see as the priorities of the School of Social Sciences, in the current extraordinary situation?
First and foremost, our obligation has to be to the health and safety of our university community. I am proud of the work that the faculty and staff continue to put into prioritizing health and student learning. This fall will not look like many others at IU Southeast, yet faculty are leveraging their experience with a wide array of teaching styles and technologies to create a myriad number of ways for students to come together and learn safely. Staff are working hard to make sure that students who come to campus are safe and those who choose not to come to campus still have access to everything that they need. Beyond that, as we face increased uncertainty about what the future might hold for both the pandemic and the economy, we are working hard to create a caring and responsive community that is ready for whatever curve balls the world may throw at us.
What do you see as strengths of the School of Social Sciences that can be leveraged to the benefit of the institution as a whole?
The strengths of the School of Social Sciences have been its commitment to social justice coupled with its commitment to pragmatic problem-solving. In our research and teaching, that means that we have the expertise to speak to some of the most important issues of the day, from racial inequality to public health and from the upcoming election to policing. Beyond that, I think we combine these ideals in the ways that we design our curriculum. For instance, all of our programs offer a commitment to the idea that a liberal arts education is more than just job training. It seeks to develop the whole person while at the same time offering courses that help students translate what they are learning into a practical career. Our alumni are out there doing amazing things in both the public and private sector, and I think that comes from our values and how we live them.