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Thursday, March 16, 2017

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
research missions can contribute to healthy civic discourse and interaction across the political spectrum and to strengthening the social compact, while acknowledging there is much we also don’t know about how to build this dialogue. By no means is the university the only institution that can help in these efforts, but through the work of our faculty and staff and the education of our students, we have an opportunity to contribute significantly.

Shortly after my arrival to CLA in fall 2014, I said in The Road Ahead that:

At its core, most every question in the liberal arts wrestles with community. 
CLA scholars study how communities are defined, how they change, how they prosper, weaken, conflict, and unite. 
We study how plural communities may be embedded within a larger community, and whether this happens by choice or coercion. 
We aim to understand how being embedded in multiple communities affects the individual. 
We examine how institutions build and bolster, or diminish and demolish, community.
We explore through the arts the multiple meanings of community, and we give life to communities through artistic and creative performance. 
We interpret how the spread of social media has revolutionized concepts of community around the world. 
We analyze where community allows individuals to flourish, but also where it hampers individual freedom. 
The identity and interaction of communities, and the relationship of the individual to the community, is one of the central, most persistent issues and themes of the early 21st century. 
And put simply, that is what we do. We, in CLA, study community. 
A major land grant research university needs a strong study of community at its heart.
I believed in the importance of our work strongly when I spoke those words in 2014, and the passage of time has only reinforced that belief. Thank you, our faculty and staff, for the critical work you do in analyzing, understanding, and serving communities.