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Message from the Dean – March 2022


I grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania. Upon going away to college, I was very excited to explore the world – and to change the world. I spent my first summer in Haiti at the home of a dear friend, and was truly stunned by the stark differences, from dire poverty to opulent wealth, and not much in between.

At the same time, I was trying to decide: Should I become a doctor or social worker? Ultimately, Economics pulled me toward a career dedicated to real systemic change. We could lift people out of poverty by breaking down the barriers that were keeping wages so low.

2022 marks my tenth year as dean of the College of Social Sciences, and I am grateful every day for this honor and privilege. To understand why, just look at this issue of the CSS newsletter – led by the announcement that the College is launching the Health Policy Initiative to facilitate research into health analytics with a $10 million multi-year commitment from the state’s Med-QUEST Division.

We also share a profile on alumnus Justin Nguyen, who is among the first graduates of a just-launched mentoring program in the career field of Intelligence, and stories on outstanding CSS faculty members Philip Garboden, who won a highly competitive, year-long fellowship to research and write a book about those who rent to low-income tenants, and Camilo Mora, who is leading the effort to literally plant a million trees in Hawai‘i through the Carbon Neutrality Challenge.

All are shining examples of why the social sciences are changing lives. They remind me that, in order to make a positive difference, I truly chose the right path.

Denise Eby Konan
Dean, College of Social Sciences