We are proud. As this academic year draws to an end, concluding with the OU graduation ceremonies and our own A&GS Fall 2021 convocation this past Friday, we want to congratulate our graduating class and thank everyone who made this year a success. It was wonderful to be able to finally celebrate our students at an in-person convocation at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. We are very proud of the many accomplishments of our talented students and of the College’s faculty and staff, who have served as mentors, teachers, and guides over the past four years. We have and continue to navigate the many challenges posed by the pandemic and cautiously resumed in-person teaching and learning. The National Weather Center is still closed to the public but the College faculty, staff, and students are back in the building.
We are thriving and remain student-centric. We started the academic year with 346 students, the highest fall enrollment numbers ever. Our projections for Fall ‘22 enrollment look equally strong. In response to the outcomes of our A&GS Fall 2020 Climate Survey and in order to intentionally and thoughtfully provide support to our students, we launched the first phase of our A&GS Mentoring Ecosystem within the School of Meteorology. In addition to all non-freshmen meteorology students being professionally advised, each student was matched with a trained faculty mentor. We hope you are aware of our recent Outstanding Junior and Senior Joseph Rotondo and Hannah Gard, who were recognized at an awards reception in mid-November. In addition to the A&GS Express, our website is also a great way to stay informed about news and events in the college. We think you will enjoy reading about student success stories and learning about the impact your contributions to our College are making.
We are academically accomplished and are growing. Our faculty continues to be very successful in their teaching, research, and service. Despite being one of the smallest colleges on campus, several faculty members have received prestigious awards and recognitions this year. Research funding is at an all time high, and the College remains number one in federal research expenditures (grant supported). We are also successfully hiring new faculty. We are excited to report that we have 12 ongoing faculty searches in the college. We are very excited about the new talent in our College and their new ideas and energy.
We are committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We continue to work towards offering an inclusive and equitable environment for everyone in our college. We have revised our faculty hiring policies and have a commitment to increasing diversity among faculty, staff, and students. Our Assistant Dean for Student Services, Aisha Owusu, who is also an alumna of the College, currently leads a reorganization of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) council to broaden its impact. There is strong support for our DEI initiatives and 32 A&GS members from all ranks participated in a semester-long course called URGE – Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences. A&GS conclusions, recommendations and action plans from URGE were presented earlier this month at AGU and will be again at AMS in Jan 2022. We encourage you to frequent our A&GS DEI website, as we work towards publicizing our DEI Strategic Plan, demographic statistics, initiatives, cultural awareness campaigns, and events.
We are thankful and humble. We are continually impressed by the dedication of our staff who often go the extra mile behind the scenes. Without their contributions and creativity our successes would not be possible. Our staff continues to show great flexibility when adapting to new work arrangements caused by the pandemic and are simultaneously navigating major upgrades in OU’s suite of business software systems. We have also integrated new staff onto our teams and we owe a big Thank You to all our amazing staff members. Teamwork makes the dream work!
We are adapting - but look forward to more safe, in-person exchanges. Although the National Weather Center has been closed to the public, we have remained vibrant and adaptive. For the second consecutive year, our signature National Weather Festival (NWF) was held virtually. Over the course of one-week, more than 155,000 local and international online users engaged in real-time or previously recorded weather-related demonstrations, training, and activities. This year, our NWF concluded with an in-person double feature movie night (Coco and Twister) on the lawn of the NWC. We look forward to more in-person interactions this Spring with our students, faculty, staff, and you, our alumni. If you are planning to come to the AMS Annual Meeting, which will take place from 23 to 27 January, 2022 in Houston, TX, we would love to see you at booth 505 or at our reception on Tuesday evening. You may RSVP for the Ou reception tickets here. Please stay tuned for information about events. We hope you will join our A&GS Friends Society. The Friends Society Funds allow us to support students in need and to support new initiatives such as the A&GS Mentoring Ecosystem. We need your support as loyal alumni to maintain the quality of our programs and to assist the students who will join us this upcoming academic year.
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On behalf of the faculty and staff of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences and once again, we send our heartiest congratulations to our graduating students!
Berrien Moore, Petra Klein, and Aisha Owusu