Famous for the acronym ‘CLASS,’ the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences recently welcomed Kathaleen Amende, Ph.D., as its new dean.
Though new to the title, Amende is certainly not unfamiliar with the responsibilities of being a college dean. She previously served as the interim dean of CLASS, where she held the position for almost two years.
Reflecting on her previous role, Amende believes that she now has “the time to bring about new initiatives and to see them through to fruition. While I have always given my full attention to the college and the university, there is more room to grow and more room to try new things.”
Amende was a military brat born in Germany and lived there for a time, but she calls San Antonio, Texas, her home.
Attending Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Amende received her bachelor’s degree in English. Furthering her academic career in English, she obtained her doctorate from Tulane University in New Orleans, La. With so much knowledge about southern cultures and pieces of literature, Amende knew that she would, sooner or later, secure a job teaching somewhere in the South.
“I wrote numerous papers and gave talks on the history of the Civil Rights Movement and on the history of women in the South,” Amende said. “I always knew that I would end up in the South as part of my career. Alabama State was a perfect place to be both for historical and cultural reasons. I feel that at ASU, I have a chance to make a real difference and to impact not only a student body, but an entire community, and I’m lucky to have found and been accepted into this great institution.”
With many inspirations and individual heroes, Amende considers the students, faculty, and staff members at ASU to be some of hers.
“I know that people are counting on me, and I don’t want to let them down,” Amende said. “As well, I see how hard everyone works to make this an amazing place, and I see how difficult it can be, especially during a pandemic, to just get through the day, much less create and engage in active and lively educational sessions. I could not be more proud of our students, or of the people who provide those opportunities for our students, from the faculty to the staff to the families that support the students, and I certainly expect at least as much out of myself.”
As the ongoing pandemic continues to affect the previous learning environments held at the university, Amende believes that the new methods she plans to put in place as the new dean will allow students who remained home to be enveloped in their learning experience.
“We have done our best to make sure that those students are not getting any less of an education than they were prior to the pandemic. If anything, our faculty is putting in more hours, more work, and more effort into making sure that students have access to both video and live lectures, to engaging and immersive online sessions, and to pedagogically sound educational work and assignments,” Amende said.
She also plans to have an open mind and listen to any critiques, comments or concerns that students may recommend to make those necessary adjustments to the curriculum.
With the positive changes that Amende wants to make due to COVID-19, there are some difficult drawbacks.
“In all honesty, this pandemic has been the most difficult challenge,” Amende said. “To come into this office in the middle of a pandemic is to hit the ground running and not let up. I have a lot of dreams for the college, but some of those have been placed on hold simply to manage putting out the day-to-day ‘fires’ that pop up unexpectedly while trying to keep things moving … forward.”
To make CLASS more well known to the students, Amende’s objective is to reopen their social media accounts to inform students about the ongoing opportunities and events they plan on having.
On top of making CLASS more familiar, Amende wishes to create a student-centered CLASS conference and a leadership institute for faculty. She is also in the process of putting together “two centers of excellence – one in Social Justice and one in Humanities.”
Among the many obstacles and boundaries comes the opportunity to flourish and develop into a new and improved self. Amende hopes the legacy she leaves at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences will be, “[a] strong identity, not just to its faculty and students, but to everyone.”
She wants CLASS to ring in the minds of citizens of Montgomery, Ala., and students enrolled at the university.
“I would be very pleased to know that I have left the college stronger than it was when I came into it, through the creation of new centers of excellence, new programs, and increased student engagement,” Amende explained. “Ultimately, if the students love CLASS, it will be a better and stronger place than it could ever otherwise be.”