By Published: June 11, 2024

When I see the humans who make up the college, I witness a unifying theme of connection—to ideas, people, communities and the world. From classrooms to the quad, I find incredible humans making connections across concepts and within themselves, and when talking with prospective students and their families, I hear their excitement about all the things


Erika Randall

“I want to study psychology, and I’m also really into technical theatre and community outreach.” 

“I’m going to be a philosophy major, and I write poetry, and I want to minor in geography.”

“I’m committed to social justice and plan to double-major in Spanish and integrative physiology with a minor in women and gender studies.”

The array of combinations and curiosities is dazzling. It is also exactly who we are—a community of folks who, effectively, use “AND” as a verb. 

What I call the alchemy of ANDing was born by witnessing the world around me over 16 years as an A&S faculty member, and it was fostered in partnership with poet, producer and A&S director of marketing, Tim Grassley. 

The AND neologism highlights the dimensions of who we are, individually and collectively. I am stirred by the amazing work and wondering done by our students, faculty, staff and alums. I see how we are thinking in new ways, AND we are taking action with those ideas to find our now and our next.

Although ANDing as a verb seemed so obvious to me and Tim, it needed an introduction, and thus, The Ampersand podcast was born. An ampersand is the typographical symbol of connection and the “shift 7” character between Arts & Sciences. 

On our podcast, producer Tim and I welcome ANDers of all flavors—humans who study bugs, question Russian politics, investigate gut micro-biomes, reimagine film, recover the stories of Filipino rough riders and swan dive at Casa Bonita. 

We talk with folks who are sparked by the need to understand how the seven or 17 things they care about can come together to change their lives and, quite possibly, the world. 

Our guests from A&S find ways to connect, overlap and recuperate through ANDing. The Ampersand revels in and reveals the myriad ways that we show up as a complex community of scholars, makers and humans. 

Never have I so discretely seen the differences and the resounding alignments of the people from our college. Our humans are incredible.

The secret wish for the podcast is one I have for all of us—that we pause to look at the seemingly disparate aspects of who we are inside ourselves and in the world, and we make connection. It is through these connections that we will become our better selves, a stronger college AND a healthier community. In these pages, we tell some of these stories.

Erika Randall is associate dean for student success and a professor of dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance. She strives to create a learning environment in which all students can fulfill their potentials and achieve their goals.