As I begin the job of Chair, I would like to thank Kim Fortun for her many contributions to the department during her stewardship.

As I come online as Chair, the Department is stronger than ever. We have great faculty and graduate students, a committed staff, and a clear mission for undergraduate pedagogy. I will try to maintain our level of excellence through support of our personal and departmental goals.

But it is clear we will have some historic issues to confront. The covid-19 pandemic has transformed how we go about our jobs. When we will come out of this and return to face-to-face teaching and meetings remains uncertain.

The state’s economy has experienced a major hit. The university’s budget faces uncertainties, at least for the near future. What that means for the department’s operating budget and future hiring is unclear.

And since we do not live in an ivory tower, we all are experiencing the tremendous upheavals in society over race, police violence, and xenophobia. And covid-19 has laid bare the pervasive structural inequalities that limit the life chances of many in our communities. It is with a sense of optimism that we can all hope that positive change will come out of these momentous struggles for justice.

I look forward to working with faculty as we move forward. It will take us working together as a collective to ensure the Department’s continued success.

I wish you all a safe and productive summer!

Leo R. Chavez


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