Arts & Sciences is the largest school on the Danforth campus and is often called the heart of the University. Over the years, it has undergone multiple transitions and transformations, stemming in spirit from the early core academic unit named the Collegiate Department to the full-fledged College of Liberal Arts to the College of Arts and Sciences*. An overview of the history of the deanship (below) exemplifies the complex origins and historically close relationship of this unit with the central administration, with deans at times concurrently serving as provost or executive vice chancellor. Today, Arts & Sciences comprises the core disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and includes departments ranging from English and Mathematics, to Political Science and Anthropology. In more recent years, the school has created new academic pathways for faculty and students to collaborate across the traditional academic subject areas in popular interdisciplinary initiatives such as Environmental Studies and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology.
In terms of governance, the school has a Dean of Arts & Sciences who oversees 23 departments, 10 programs and 11 centers, as well as the educational divisions of The College (undergraduate studies) and The Graduate School (graduate studies). The senior leadership team of Arts & Sciences includes the deans of the College and the Graduate School as well as appointed members of the faculty to oversee academic planning, faculty development and research. The Dean also has senior staff to oversee the main functional areas of operation, from budget and finance to personnel policies to computing, facilities and communications. The Dean is responsible for the appointment, promotion, recommendation for tenure, and salary of all faculty members; as well as the appointments of the Deans of the College, the Graduate School, and the appointment of departmental chairs as well as program and center directors. The Dean oversees all academic, financial, and administrative aspects of Arts & Sciences, which is home to over 600 tenure-track and instructional faculty, approximately 600 staff, and 6,000 students with an annual operating budget of over $300 million.
University College, the evening and continuing education branch of the University, was a part of Arts & Sciences for a long time. It was moved into Arts & Sciences in the 1980s as part of a larger institutional reorganization, along with the successful new interdisciplinary graduate program, the Master of Liberal Arts. In 2019, as a part of Chancellor Martin's new initiatives to invigorate educational offerings to the St. Louis community, University College began a transition out of Arts & Sciences and into a new status as a university-wide unit.
*In 1966, the College of Liberal Arts was renamed the College of Arts & Sciences.