Building ‘culture of opportunity’ in Arts & Sciences

This year there is not just a new freshman class of students, but also a new dean at the University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Michael R. Halleran joined the school as dean in July of this year, after the University interviewed a number of strong applicants for the position. Since then, Halleran has been meeting with faculty and students to find ways to improve the College of Arts and Sciences and encourage more opportunities for intellectual thought on campus.

“[My job is] building a culture of opportunities that challenges and is exciting for students,” Halleran said.

Currently, he is coordinating working with departments and students to figure out what changes need to be made. Some of the plans he has to improve the College include improving the writing program and increasing student participation in UM’s study abroad programs.

According to Halleran, only 10 to 11 percent of students take part in a study abroad experience. Although the University of Miami has a large international student body, he said, students should also take advantage of the study abroad program as an opportunity to broaden their horizons.

In addition to study abroad programs, Halleran plans to work with residence halls for greater integration between academics and the intellectual side of student life. For example, this year, as Toni Morrison visited the campus, incoming freshmen were given a copy of one of her books and some dorms had screenings of the film Beloved, based on Morrison’s award-winning book.

Halleran said that these changes are in line with movements the University of Miami is making, and he hopes the changes will help give students the opportunity for exciting academic experiences that will help them be successful in life.

To Halleran, success is not necessarily measured by the first job a student gets out of college-it can be seen five or ten years later, as a product of learning, he said. He believes that it is important for students to learn as much as they can.

“A student’s four years of university offers a special chance to focus on a buffet of intellectual activities and enjoy the etymology of education,” he said.

Halleran’s philosophy for pursuing an education can be summarized as the three E’s: “Explore new courses, engage in them, and enjoy them,” he said. “[So students can] make a difference in the world, because that’s what it’s all about.”

Previously, Halleran worked as Divisional Dean of Arts and Humanities and taught as a professor of the classics at the University of Washington in Seattle. He graduated with a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is an expert in Greek literature and intellectual history. During his time at University of Washington, Halleran worked on revising the foundational courses of the school’s College of Arts and Sciences, assisted with the recreation of the humanities center and helped with the integration of technology in areas such as language courses.

Candice Castaneda can be contacted at