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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.

Talle associate professor research funds awarded

One of our Roadmap goals is the relentless pursuit of research and creative excellence. For the past two years, the Talle Faculty Research Award has funded projects of associate professors who are within four years of their promotion. Fifteen associate professors across 11 departments have been funded in the program’s first two years. Applications for this year’s competition are due September 29, 2017.

Career Readiness Guide a new resource for our students

During the spring semester, the Office of Undergraduate Education released the first edition of the CLA Career Readiness Guide. Former Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Gary Oehlert and current Associate Dean Ascan Koerner shared the document with you via email at that time. It’s a terrific product that has been well received by our students and by our alums and friends outside the college. For more information about the Career Readiness Initiative and the Core Career Competencies, please consult the Career Readiness pages in the CLA Neighborhood. See also this Star-Tribune report on our efforts.

CLA’s growing presence at the State Fair

In the CLA Roadmap we set a goal of deepening the culture of engagement in the college and extending our reach and our reciprocal engagement with various communities. One particularly public example of that commitment coming to life is our visibility at the Minnesota State Fair. CLA will have a large presence at this year’s Fair and I encourage you to check out the list of participating units and projects and to visit our colleagues while you are at the Fair.

New website communicates CLA’s international and global efforts

One of the recommendations of the CLA Internationalization Task Force was to use the Web as one avenue to enhance the visibility of the work happening across the college on our international and global efforts. CLA Global Gateway has now launched. The site is a work in progress, so please take a look around and send your feedback on possible additions and improvements to Evelyn Davidheiser and Scott Meyer.

CLA’s incoming freshman class largest since 2009, and a look at trends

You may have read that the University is on track to have one of its largest incoming freshman classes in decades. CLA is part of that enrollment boost. The current estimate is that we will add about 2650 first-year students, which is 200 over our target of 2450 and our highest total since 2009. More of these students are “CLA first choice” students than in previous years, at about 75%. The inspired work of faculty and staff around curricular innovation, instructional excellence, career readiness, and advising and student services has been key to this strong CLA performance.

Tracking our progress on the CLA Roadmap

We’re accelerating, we’re shifting into high gear, we’re . . . okay, I’ll spare you from further roadway metaphors. At the end of the spring semester, we brought together the chairs of the CLA Roadmap Goal Teams to share updates on the work that has been done to achieve the goals of the Roadmap. In 2014-15 the Goal Teams developed plans and strategies to guide the College’s collective work on advancing our goals and realize our vision of being a destination college. The hard work of faculty and staff across the College has produced a strong record of accomplishment over the past two-plus years of Roadmap implementation. There is more work to be done, as the saying goes, but I encourage you to review the Roadmap Report on Progress to get a sense of the work that’s been done throughout the college.

Faculty hiring results in academic year 2016-17

Departments across the college were actively engaged in tenured and tenure track hiring during the past academic year. The year concluded with 16 hires, of which 14 will begin during academic year 2017-18. The hires spanned 15 departments -- 9 in our arts and humanities corridor and 6 in our social sciences corridor -- and included authorized searches and targets of opportunity (or exceptional hires in university lingo, which can be external hires, conversions of non-tenure-track appointments, and spousal and partner hiring). Thanks to all of you who were part of the recruitment efforts and thanks to Associate Deans Ana Paula Ferreira (Arts and Humanities) and Penny Edgell (Social Sciences) for their work on recruiting these first-rate scholars to CLA. We also had 7 unsuccessful searches that resulted either in no offers being extended or offers that were declined.

We will be holding our second annual Dean’s Fall Reception on September 14 from 4:30-6 pm in the McNamara Alumni Center to welcome our newly arrived faculty (including faculty hired in earlier years but just joining the U now) and to recognize our newly promoted faculty. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend to meet our new faculty and reconnect with others.

Our new faculty and our newly promoted faculty push forward our research and creative excellence and they advance our goals of diversity and inclusion, providing transformative opportunity for our students, and engaging reciprocally with our communities. Our new and newly promoted faculty demonstrate the deep importance of the liberal arts and will provide a boost to our energy as we work to fulfill our vision of CLA as a destination college.

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.

Examine and review CLA data

Last year I reported to you on one of our transparency initiatives in the college: CLA Reporting and Analytics (CLARA). CLARA is a tool that allows users to examine data from across the college. The data can be fine-tuned in many ways through drop-down menus, and it is also possible to download, export, and print data and reports. Most of the site currently focuses on items around curriculum and instruction as well as personnel and student headcount and FTE. We have additional datasets planned for the site as well and these will be added to this tool over time. All current CLA faculty and staff have access to CLARA at clara.umn.edu. When you get to the site you can simply explore by clicking around. A help guide is available at the Help link. The indefatigable Colin DeLong, CLA’s Director of Enrollment Analytics in the Office of Undergraduate Education, deserves special recognition for his leadership in the development and improvement of CLARA.

The university compact process, FY 2018

As the calendar turns to spring, the university turns to budget and planning season. At the campus level, the college is engaged in the annual Compact process. If you are new to the college, or would like a refresher, you can review my previous explanations of this process here (some of the details of the process have changed since that explanation was written, but the gist of the process is the same) and here (for the outcomes of the process last year). 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.

For this year’s process, CLA needs to identify a total of $1.6 million of expenditures we put on the

CLA and community

CLA is a place for everyone. From the students admitted to and enrolled in our college to the staff and faculty employed here--all belong. We in CLA are unified with university leadership in its efforts to provide support for those concerned about and affected by changes in government policy. Recently, a webpage was launched at the Campus Climate website to provide the latest information on immigration and related matters. I encourage you to review the page and revisit from time to time as updates will likely be frequent.

In mid-November, I participated in a forum organized by the Provost, titled “Reaffirming Our Values, Rebuilding the Social Compact.” In my brief remarks, I discussed how the university’s education and

Thoughts about liberal education from Associate Dean Oehlert

As the discussion about the possible reform of the university’s liberal education requirements gets underway, I wanted to draw your attention to some thoughtful pieces from Gary Oehlert, CLA’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education. Associate Dean Oehlert attended all of the Provost’s forums on liberal education and provides a great foundation for thinking about the issues through his extensive analysis.