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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Statement from Twin Cities Deans on FY 2018 Operating Budget

Submitted to the Board of Regents by Valery Forbes, Dean of the College of Biological Sciences, Chair of the Twin Cities Deans Council; and John Coleman, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Vice Chair of the Twin Cities Deans Council, June 13, 2017

On behalf of the Twin Cities Deans’ Council we would like to use this opportunity to support President Kaler’s recommended FY 2018 Annual Operating Budget that includes a 3% increase in resident undergraduate tuition and a 10% increase in undergraduate non-resident/non-reciprocity tuition rates for the Twin Cities Campus. The recommended tuition increases ensure that we will be able to maintain cutting-edge educational opportunities for our students and recruit and retain field-shaping faculty at the University of Minnesota. Our recruitment environments are highly competitive and national and international in scope, and we face increasing pressures to retain our faculty. When we lose faculty due to resources, we typically “lose at the top,” meaning it is the most prestigious faculty members that are most at risk of moving. All of our missions, from education to research to outreach and engagement, depend crucially on recruiting and maintaining world-class faculty.

We understand the concerns expressed by many about the cost of education, and in all of our colleges we continually reexamine our processes to improve our efficiency. We have also, in the interest of cost savings, had to make real cuts to mission support and in some cases mission. Although we aim to minimize the negative consequences of these cuts in delivering excellence in instruction, research, and public engagement, cumulatively they will have that effect. The TC Deans would welcome the opportunity to engage with President Kaler, the Board of Regents, and other University leadership to develop a strategy that supports long-term financial stability of the University without compromising on the excellence of our programs and activities.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Results of the FY 2018 Compact Process for CLA

I shared an overview of this year’s Compact process with you in March. Each college is required as part of the Compact process to put dollars on the table for reallocation -- some of these funds may return to a college for investment in areas identified by the college in the Compact, while others are moved to support University initiatives or address budget deficits across the system.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Adding new support for interdisciplinary research and creative collaboratives

Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Programs Steve Manson recently announced the establishment of a new initiative in CLA to create short-term workshops focused around particular topics, questions, or themes. I mentioned this program earlier this year in my State of the College address -- which I know you’ve memorized -- as one of our initiatives to further our Roadmap goal of the relentless pursuit of research and creative excellence. These efforts are intended to bring together scholars and creative artists from across disciplines in areas where the college has strength that has perhaps not been pulled together to its full potential. Our goal is to establish a small number of these each year to run for a short time. Two new workshops each year running for three years would be a modal expectation, with six multi-year workshops eventually in operation each year. Associate Dean Manson’s announcement also indicated that we will provide support for smaller, one-year projects. We are hopeful these single-year and multi-year groups will add additional dynamism to the college’s intellectual environment. You can read about this initiative here. I encourage you to submit a proposal. Our efforts this first year will be supported in large part by the Joan Aldous Innovation Fund, which has been used this year for a set of 25 pilot projects promoting our Roadmap goals of diversity and engagement.

Rethinking learning abroad

One of the recommendations of the CLA Task Force on Internationalization was to improve the learning abroad experience for CLA students. Faculty Director Michal Kobialka, Assistant Dean Nanette Hanks, and Education Abroad Program Director Tim Dohmen are leading this effort. They have been meeting with departments to discuss students’ current involvement in learning abroad, canvass interest in development of new opportunities that better align with the academic and experiential goals of the major, and explore how to prepare students academically so that they fully benefit from their learning abroad experience. In addition, they are seeking ways to incorporate research opportunities and projects between the exchanging institutions as part of the learning abroad experience, as well as increasing CLA faculty participation in learning abroad programs. The entire effort will be better publicized to students when CLA’s global portal -- another recommendation of the Task Force -- is online. The feedback from the Learning Abroad Center and the leadership of the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance has been highly supportive of these efforts, and the admittedly unscientific sample of students I have asked about these changes have indicated that these reforms will be welcomed and appreciated by students.

CLA’s pivotal role in the university’s diversity and inclusion objectives

In the CLA Roadmap, we as a college dedicated ourselves to the improvement of diversity, inclusion, and access among our students. The university is also committed to inclusive excellence in Driving Tomorrow, the university’s strategic plan. CLA will be an essential part of the university’s ability to meet this objective. To give you some sense of what I mean, CLA is 44.2% of the Twin Cities undergraduate degree-seeking population and we comprise the following proportions of Twin Cities undergraduates:

Initiatives in the arts & humanities and social sciences

Earlier this academic year, I asked Associate Dean for Arts & Humanities Ana Paula Ferreira and Associate Dean for Social Sciences Penny Edgell to pilot initiatives in their corridors to experiment and boost the research and creative environment in the college. (The budget was the same across the corridors.) To date, two initiatives have been introduced in each corridor. Please contact the respective Associate Dean if you have any questions.

Associate Dean Ferreira provided support for two initial projects. The Theoretical Humanities Collective is led by Professor Cesare Casarino of the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. Starting Spring 2017, the Collective sponsors a reading group, open to all interested graduate students, lecturers, and faculty, on the topic of "Political Ontology for the Present." The reading group will continue through Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 and will culminate in a two-day symposium with guest speakers in April 2018. The Environmental Humanities Initiative, led

How diverse is your syllabus?

In the fall, I reported in a Monthly Memo on a tool that allows you to determine the amount of possible gender bias in your letters of recommendation. I have since learned (h/t Professor Joanne Miller) of a tool created by Political Science Professor Jane Sumner that examines the degree of gender and racial diversity on a syllabus. Check it out.