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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Grand Challenges Leadership and the CLA Roadmap

When the University chose “grand challenges” as the organizing theme for the strategic plan, it called on all collegiate units to draw on their strengths in order to engage society’s most pressing issues in more meaningful ways. For CLA, this presented a great opportunity not only to showcase our existing areas of excellence, but also to consider new and creative ways to apply our unique talents for the greater good of our state, our nation, and our world.

The depth and breadth of our research and curricular strength make CLA particularly well-positioned to respond to the University’s call, most notably around the challenge of building vibrant communities that enhance human potential and collective well-being in a diverse and changing society.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Research and Creative Excellence and the CLA Roadmap

The CLA Roadmap promises a relentless focus on research and creative excellence. This focus fits our position as a land grant institution, a liberal arts college, and is critically important in our quest to achieve our vision of becoming a destination college.

The essentials of a land grant public research university are world-class research, outstanding instruction, and service and outreach to the state. But these are not only essential elements of a land grant research institution. They are essential elements of the liberal arts as well. I have been emphasizing repeatedly that whether on campus or off campus, we will be on offense—and not defense—when talking about the College and the liberal arts. We will advocate, not apologize.

Student Readiness and the Liberal Arts

The CLA Roadmap calls for CLA alumni to be superbly prepared for the next stage of life after campus. In addition to educating our students to be well prepared to engage in civic life, we must also give them the confidence that their liberal arts training has left them well prepared embark on their career path. Students—and prospective students—who know we are deeply committed to their readiness will consider CLA a prime destination. We need to attract large numbers of high-achieving, CLA-first-choice students by offering them something different and better.

When we think about the liberal arts we quite rightly often emphasize their value in teaching students to think critically, to excel in communication, to develop problem-solving skills, to ask new questions, and to gather and evaluate evidence from multiple sources, among other skills.

But the liberal arts do more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Roadmap Goal Teams

In my Road Ahead address on October 22, I shared my vision for CLA to become a destination college, and outlined five goals for the College that will enable us to achieve this vision. On October 28, we released the CLA Roadmap, which serves as the canvas upon which we begin to detail how we reach these goals.

Each goal has a Roadmap Goal Team composed primarily of faculty, staff, and students, who will deliberate and share their thoughts and guidance around the goal, and begin to shape our path toward it through a series of specific recommendations. We aimed to build teams that were representative of our major intellectual traditions, without becoming unwieldy in size, so that we gain in our deliberations from a variety of insights and perspectives. At the same time, the Goal Teams were built with a sense that this is a collegiate process, and not a process to lobby or advocate or represent any particular narrow interest.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reorganizing CLA

Many thanks to you all for the interest you’ve shown in the CLA Roadmap and the five goals that will motivate our action over the coming years. As I mentioned in The Road Ahead address and have discussed with many of you, I am proposing a reorganization of CLA along three intellectual groupings representing the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Each corridor would have an academic associate dean from within that intellectual tradition who would have the responsibility and authority—in consultation with me—to work with departments on their hiring, planning, and other issues, and to advance the five goals identified in the Roadmap.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Road Ahead: A Call to Action


  • Being the first choice of a prospective student.
  • Attracting and retaining field shaping researchers and teachers.
  • Pursuing research that is vital to the community.
  • Graduating students that organizations are eager to recruit.

These are just some of the qualities of a destination college.

Our vision is to transform the College of Liberal Arts into a destination college.

We will do that by re-energizing our commitment to the community by graduating the best prepared students.

By re-imagining how we best position CLA research to advance the study, understanding, and improvement of community from the local to the international level.

And by re-engaging CLA with the community.

Today we set our course toward that destination.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

State of the College 2014

Part 1: Looking Back

Welcome! It’s great to be here with you, as we celebrate the past, present, and future of the College of Liberal Arts.

In considering what I would say today, it occurred to me that this event is in many ways symbolic of the College at this moment in time.

The first meeting of the CLA Assembly each fall is rich with tradition. Each September, we gather to celebrate the successes of the past year and set our course for the new one. New faculty are introduced and welcomed into our community.

Just as this meeting itself represents the fusion of tradition and new beginnings, I hope that by discussing these themes and considering what brought us to where we are now, we can begin to determine where we wish to go.