Dear Krieger School Faculty and Staff,
I am writing you with mixed emotions as I share some bittersweet news and some good news. The bittersweet part is that Joel Schildbach, the Krieger School’s vice dean for undergraduate education has accepted a position as program director for the Division of Graduate Education at the National Science Foundation. This is a great opportunity for Joel, and fortunately he will remain a member of our faculty while working at NSF. The good news is that Erin Rowe, associate professor in the Department of History, has agreed to take on the duties of vice dean for undergraduate education, effective July 1, 2021.
I want to recognize Joel for the impact he has had on the Krieger School broadly and specifically on the undergraduate experience here. Joel arrived at Hopkins in 1996, and it wasn’t long before he became a widely admired biology professor, perhaps best known for his course Phage Hunters, which inspired undergraduates to engage in scientific research and participate in a nationwide program in collaboration with undergrads at other colleges.
Once he joined the Dean’s Office in 2014, Joel’s dedication to the undergraduate experience became even more obvious. He has been a tireless advocate for undergraduates, helping to reimagine how gateway science classes are taught and playing a critical role in the creation of SOUL courses: Special Opportunities for Undergraduate Learning. Joel has also been integral to implementation of the CUE2 initiative, oversight of our Excellence in Teaching Awards, and management of the Dean’s Teaching Fellowships for graduate students and Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowships. His scope of responsibilities has been broad but Joel approached them all with one goal in mind: to continuously enhance the undergraduate experience at Johns Hopkins.
More recently, Joel was instrumental in the success of our unexpected pivot from in-person to online course instruction when the pandemic hit. He was thoughtful, creative, and methodical about how to make that switch, and the resulting success is a testament to his expertise.
I also heard about Joel’s quick action and decision-making in 2017 when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Before most of our peer institutions took action, Joel worked to bring some of our former visiting students fromPuerto Rico back to our campus so they could continue their studies without disruption. That kind of dedication is virtually unmatched.
I asked Joel what the most rewarding part of his job has been and, without hesitation, he said “watching the creativity and hard work of my colleagues evolve into programs and efforts that genuinely benefit undergraduates.” Those efforts include expansion of PILOT, curricular enhancements in Public Health Studies and other majors, and creation of the Humanities Collaboratory and the Classics Lab. In addition, Joel’s leadership in the Excellence in Academic Advising initiative will have a positive impact on our students for years to come.
It’s impossible to tell how many undergraduates at Johns Hopkins have benefitted from Joel’s steadfast commitment to providing quality academic experiences, but I would venture to say that it numbers in the thousands. Please join me in thanking Joel for all of his efforts.
And please also join me in welcoming Erin Rowe to the Dean’s Office. Erin has been teaching at Johns Hopkins since 2012 and is a graduate of the Krieger School, receiving her doctoral degree in 2005. She is currently director of undergraduate studies for the Department of History.
When I spoke with Erin and heard about her pedagogical interests in undergraduate education, I knew she would be the right person for the position. She has a keen interest in expanding opportunities for undergraduates to robustly engage with the digital humanities and experiential learning. Erin is dedicated to helping the university’s initiatives to support our new and growing cohort of first-generation, limited income students as well as our students of color.
Erin’s scholarly research examines the religious culture of the early modern Iberian world, with an emphasis on theology, race, gender, and visual culture. She most recently authored a study called Black Saints in Early Modern Global Catholicism, which reveals the untold story of how Black saints—and the slaves who prayed to them—transformed the early modern church and even spurred two efforts that reshaped the world. This work earned Erin the Roland H. Bainton Prize from Sixteenth Century Studies Society and the Albert C. Outler Prize from the American Society of Church History.
As vice dean for undergraduate education, Erin will oversee the offices of Academic Advising; Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity; Study Abroad; Preprofessional Advising; Postbac Premed; and Public Health Studies. She will also lend her expertise to numerous university- and school-wide committees and initiatives such as CUE2 and the Center for teaching and Innovation. I have no doubt that Erin has the capability to take Joel’s myriad accomplishments to their next level of excellence.
As you can see, lots of changes are taking place in the Dean’s Office. I am grateful for all of your efforts, and I look forward to working with you as we navigate the future together.
Christopher S. Celenza
James B. Knapp Dean