A Word From Our Dean

Dr. Carmen Burkhalter

Dear readers,

As you know, one of the cornerstones of the College of Arts and Sciences is experiential learning. We believe students need hands-on experience. We also believe they need to travel. Positive academic travel can take students to international places such as Tanzania, Costa Rica, Italy, Germany, or England. However, the domestic trips are just as important. For example, the education students receive at professional conferences are essential to future success. Consider also the value of the education Geography students receive in Wyoming, or theater students in New York, or Entertainment Industry students in Nashville. All of these experiences are priceless. If we believe, which we do, that our students are recognized and valued because they learn that collaboration as a required competency for the 21st century, then these travel experiences are necessary.

Earlier this year, when I first discussed encouraging students to travel and get out of their comfort zone, I had an alumnus send me a wonderful response. With his permission, I am adding it to this month’s newsletter because his enthusiasm is infectious and we need to continue to talk about the experiential needs of our students.

“When I left the Shoals in 1976, right after graduation, I took a job in Houston that led me to travel to all 50 states and overseas. Therefore, I can relate to being apprehensive about new places, since Houston is so huge. But so are Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago and everything in between when you drive it. Then there was Buenos Aires, Santiago, Lagos (soon to be the biggest city in the world); plus, Seattle, Honolulu, Montevideo, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro . . . and many others. I could go on for a long time about Great Falls, Montana, but that is another story. There are many other stories. You would like Ketchikan, Alaska.

I've met many people along the way who had never been but a few miles from their birthplace in all their lives. One old guy in NYC sticks in my mind as he told me he had lived in Manhattan all his life and had been to New Jersey but once. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to see all these places and more are on the way. So, I would encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and go see the world. “

John S. Halbert, Katy TX (Website:

UNA 1976

If any other alumni or students have passions they want to share with me, please send them to I love hearing how UNA changes lives.

Thank you, all, for the support over the past year and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season.