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Friday, June 15, 2018

The Northeast Middle School Class of 2026

Watching the students receive their certificates at Northrop.

Last week I watched 175 middle school students cross the Northrop stage. They were the 8th-grade class of Northeast Middle School (NEMS) in Minneapolis, receiving their completion certificates. Over the course of the semester these students had worked with Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies (GWSS) Professor Jigna Desai and GWSS Research Associate Kari Smalkoski and their undergraduate students on a unique project: The Minnesota Youth Story Squad.

Meeting once a week, the undergraduate mentors and Dr. Jigna and Dr. Kari (as they are known to the students) would lead the 8th graders in discussions ranging from social justice to bullying and ultimately led the students in the creation of their own personal digital stories.

During the ceremony at Northrop the students debuted their stories in front of their friends and families. The images ranged from silly memes to carefully hand-drawn illustrations. The videos covered topics from immigration to stereotypes. All were poignant and dynamic.

It was a powerful reminder of the necessity to engage with not only with K-12 partners, but specifically those working in middle school. When universities work with K-12 entities, it is often on either end of the spectrum: before the 3rd grade and during high school. But those middle years are filled with innumerable changes -- physical, emotional, and social -- and are crucial to a student’s ultimate academic and personal success.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Results of the fiscal year 2019 Compact Process for CLA

Earlier this academic year I provided a preview of the annual Budget/Compact process, followed by a a midyear report when we had more details, and an update after our meeting with Central.

We now have our results from this year's process. Overall, CLA came out well. The college was required to put $1.9 million on the table for potential reallocation, reinvestment, and budget balancing around the U of M System. We were told this year that we should only make investment requests that qualified as emergency situations. We submitted one request for assistance with coordinating our diversity and inclusion efforts. Although not an emergency per se, it was of sufficiently high priority that we submitted a request.

On reallocation, Central accepted $900,000 and left the other $1 million in the college. That is not a new $1 million, but funds already being spent. On investment, our request was not specifically funded.

The Budget/Compact process also projects the college's new revenues (for example, from increases in tuition) and new expenses (for example, from compensation increases). Projected new revenues exceed projected expenses by a little over $3 million. Of that amount, $2 million was deployed to close budget gaps in other colleges and at System campuses. The resulting net $1 million remains available to the college.

Those are the basics with regard to our reallocations and investments. If you'd like more detail of how the process works, read on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Commencement remarks to the CLA Class of 2018

Remarks delivered Sunday, May 13, 2018, at Mariucci Arena. After a general welcome and introduction, the speech began with 20 seconds of silence.

Isn't it funny? 20 seconds of silence and no doubt you started to wonder, “What’s wrong?” “Did the microphone turn off?” “Did he forget the rest of his speech?”

It’s indicative of the world we live in today. Where every waking moment we have information coming at us. Calls and social media. Emails demanding attention. A huge list of saved posts and articles that you know you’ll never get a chance to read.

It’s no wonder then that quiet is sometimes the best way to get people’s attention. That the absence of something is what makes you sit down and take notice.

So now that I’ve got your attention for the next few seconds, let me ask you to do something:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Outcomes of the 2017 UMN Employee Engagement survey in CLA

The University conducted its employee engagement survey originally in 2014. The survey was offered again in 2015. After a one-year hiatus to allow some time for units to respond to the results of the 2015 survey, another iteration of the survey was administered in 2017. Survey results are available and the college level and, where there were at least 5 faculty or staff respondents, at the unit level as well.  I understand and appreciate the problems identified by faculty and staff with the survey instrument. Still, the survey can be used to glean some insights for follow-up action.

Update on the Compact process for fiscal year 2019

As I reported in an earlier post, the Compact process this year presented CLA with the task of finding $1.9 million dollars to put on the table for reallocation. These dollars are used to resolve budget imbalances within the University of Minnesota System.

In previous years, the process also allowed colleges to request investments. For example, CLA has received support for its Career Readiness Initiative, for improvements in graduate student stipends, and for faculty cluster hires, among other items, in prior rounds of the Compact process. For this coming year, however, colleges were not asked to provide investment requests given the need to resolve budget issues around the System.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Compact process for fiscal year 2019

The early part of the year brings with it certain timeless routines. Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Spring training baseball in Florida and Arizona. And, of course, the annual Budget/Compact Process here at the U.

Say the words "the Compact" around campus and clouds roll in, eyes look to the ground, solemn vows are taken, small animals start scurrying. Some say it is mere legend and myth, akin to mere mortals attempting to grasp misty vapor.

But indeed, I can confirm that the Compact exists. In an effort to demystify the mysterious process, I have explained in detail in previous years how the Compact process works. I won't go into that detail again here. For those of you new to the college, or who may have drifted off while reading my previous prose on the matter, I would point you to the detailed description of the process here (some of the details of the process have changed since then, but on the whole the essence of the process is the same) and here (for last year's outcomes). Those of you who would like an overall look at CLA finances should check out the primer written by Brent Gustafson, CLA’s Chief Financial Officer.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

CLA Shattering Expectations campaign update

The Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch and the Center for German and European Studies received a combined $5 million gift from the estate of Hella Mears (read about the gift and about Hella Mears). Hella was a delightful and funny person who was passionate about her interests in German and European studies. I was saddened by her passing but am pleased that her legacy will have such transformative impact. A salute to former Dean Jim Parente, Department Chairs Rick McCormick and Charlotte Melin, and CLA Principal Gifts Officer Mary Hicks for building a wonderful relationship with Hella that led to earlier gifts and to this estate commitment.