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Sunday, November 5, 2017

CLA campaign kickoff remarks

(Remarks delivered at public launch of Shattering Expectations: The Campaign for the College of Liberal Arts, November 4, 2017)

Thank you all!

Tonight has been extraordinary.

Let’s have another round of applause for our performers as well as our guests who have shared their powerful stories.

I hope tonight has indeed shattered your expectations about our college and campaign.

Earlier tonight you heard that through this campaign we seek to become a destination college. And that’s true. But this vision is not just about CLA.
As the home of the humanities, arts, and social sciences we are uniquely suited to tackling the most pressing problems facing individuals and societies today. As you’ve heard tonight, from opportunity gaps to helping individuals thrive, CLA is facing these challenges head on.

So, yes, we aim to be a destination college, but a destination college with a very defined purpose: to do the most good we can for others. The better we are at our work, the better our research, the more ready our graduates, the greater good we can do.

At the beginning of the night, President Kaler said he couldn’t imagine a world without the liberal arts.

But for a moment, let’s do just that.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

CLA’s leading role in the U's doctoral diversity and inclusion objectives

Back in the spring I reported on how CLA leads the way on diversity and inclusion of the Twin Cities campus undergraduate student population.

The same leadership holds for doctoral education.

The college accounts for 22.3% of the Twin Cities doctoral population and we comprise:
  • 22.6% of Black students
  • 23.9% of Twin Cities female doctoral students
  • 26.8% of students of color
  • 29.2% of American Indian students
  • 30.7% of multi-racial students
  • 36.5% of Hispanic students
Campus efforts toward inclusive excellence involve all colleges. CLA is proud to play a leading role in the efforts to diversify the Twin Cities doctoral population.

State of the College 2017

On September 19, 2017, I delivered my annual State of the College remarks. In those remarks I stated:

We operate from the simple premise that the knowledge, perspective, and skills honed in a liberal arts education are a pathway to a fulfilled and engaged life. Every day, we explore questions that matter. We study the questions that drive people’s lives. That are fundamental to their individual and collective values. 

There’s not a day that goes by in the news when the questions asked by the liberal arts are not all over the front page, or homepage, of the newspaper. Through the arts, humanities, and social sciences we explore these front page issues, directly or indirectly, in a variety of ways and through a variety of methodologies and traditions. 

Our scholars—all of you in this room—explore what it means to be successful, caring, productive—what it means to be a contributing member of a community.

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, September 8, 2017

My welcome back message to undergraduates

(This message was sent to all undergraduate students on September 5, 2017.) 

Dear CLA Students,

Welcome to the 2017-18 academic year! Whether it's your first time on campus or you're a few credits shy of graduating, I hope this semester brings you new opportunities to learn, grow, and enrich yourself and the people around you.

You're in college at a very dynamic time historically, politically, economically, and socially. There are many challenges facing your generation. At CLA we know your education will put you ahead of the curve and give you advantages in every aspect of your life: from the workplace, to your personal life, to the communities you join and create.

This “Shattering Expectations” animated video explains the liberal arts advantage and our goals for your education: that you graduate from CLA with a profound sense of possibility, inclusivity, and innovation. We are a campus that welcomes diversity of beliefs, backgrounds, and viewpoints. This embrace of diverse views and backgrounds will be the source of the solutions to today's greatest challenges, is the foundation of a great university, and is the right thing to do.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The land grant mission, rightly understood

In public discourse, and even sometimes in higher education discourse, the land grant mission of universities is rhetorically reduced to the teaching of mechanical or technical skills. And no doubt, these skills are important and were an important focus of the land grant mission. But this interpretation is a thin understanding of the land grant purpose. The full vision of the land grant system was to empower the individual in the interest of building their futures and building their communities. This vision was about conveying the knowledge that would lead to both economic development and political development. The land grant mission also aimed to extend the learning of liberal education to a larger population in a growing country. It was profoundly democratizing at its core, sharing what we in CLA would call “the liberal arts advantage” with larger segments of the population. It was a profound boost to individual growth and community development, spreading beyond the elite strata of society the skills and knowledge that encourage civic engagement. Individuals would be transformed, but so would families, peer groups, and future generations.

At their deepest, the values of the land grant gave a growing number of individuals the ability to shape their own destiny and the destiny of their communities and states. One way of thinking about all this is that, with an eye toward national political and economic development, the core of the land grant mission was to help citizens, careers, and communities thrive. In CLA we are dedicated to doing all three. The 1862 Morrill Act creating the land grant system called for colleges and curriculum “that will promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes.” An 1871 report from the founding agricultural college at one of our Big Ten peers notes that in addition to the sciences in its curriculum, “other studies are taken from the course in the College of Arts, making it parallel with that course and in all respects equal to it in the training and discipline which it will confer.” The meaning is plain: the land grant mission is not pursued at the expense of liberal education and must not neglect it. Indeed, it is built upon a foundation of the liberal arts and it fails without that foundation being strong. The land grant mission and the liberal arts missions in research, teaching, and engagement are inseparable. I am immensely proud of the role CLA and all of our faculty and staff play in defending and advancing these vital values. We should be bold, loud, and proud about letting everyone know.

The University Compact process for CLA and CLA budgeting

Previously I shared the results of the U’s Compact Process for CLA. In case you missed that at the busy start of summer, you can review the results at the link above. I mention in that post that “the options we put forward [for reallocation] relied heavily on reductions in CLA college-level offices and included multiple positions eliminated as well as reduced Supplies, Equipment, and Other Expenses (aka SEE) funding
across our administrative units.”

Our overall budgeting is consistent with that premise and priority. Looking across CLA academic and administrative units -- i.e., setting to the side the roughly $87 million we have paid annually into campus-wide “cost pools” -- since the beginning of the decade spending on academic units has increased about 12% in nominal dollars (unadjusted for inflation) while spending on administrative units has held steady. This 12% has had to cover a lot, including everything from faculty and staff hiring to equipment, salary increases, increased cost of benefits, graduate support, and beyond. Of the nearly $150 million spent on CLA academic and administrative units in fiscal year 2017, 89% was spent in academic units. Looking at total CLA spending, including the large amount paid into the cost pools, about 6.5-6.8% is spent in the college’s administrative units overall.

If you’d like a primer on the University’s budget that takes less than 180 seconds of your time, check out this short video released by University Relations to explain how the U’s budget works.

CLA initiatives across the college, arts and humanities, social sciences

Earlier I reported on initiatives and calls for proposals funded by Penny Edgell and Ana Paula Ferreira, Associate Dean for Social Sciences and then-Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities, respectively. Further results are now in, and the investments do a wonderful job advancing CLA Roadmap goals of research and creative excellence and diversity and inclusion, in particular.