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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Workgroup on Curricular Opportunities

(This charge letter was sent to the members of the workgroup on October 15, 2020.) 

Thank you for agreeing to serve on the CLA Workgroup on Curricular Opportunities (WCO). 

The workgroup's charge is to think through curricular and programmatic opportunities for CLA. This list could include:

  • Opportunities that could provide inventive programs (e.g., minors or certificates) that span across departments or colleges that would be attractive for undergraduates in CLA or might be targeted outside CLA.
  • Post-baccalaureate possibilities (e.g., professional certificates around DEI or racial equity or analytics or health given the growing demand and interest in these areas).
  • Maintaining this year’s momentum of summer programming and enrollment. 
  • Making more complete use of our academic calendar through increased use of shorter courses. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Budget pop quiz

Over the past six months, you’ve been hearing frequently from me and from President Gabel about college and University finances, respectively. Those communications have focused on the pandemic’s fiscal impact. 

Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article by Allison Vaillancourt that took a step back from pandemic-influenced finances for a more general examination. The article is titled “What if Everyone on Campus Understood the Money?” 

Ms. Vaillancourt reports that, “Whenever I give talks on this subject to higher-ed audiences, I often ask them to take a pop quiz about their own institutions. . . . Most faculty and staff members — and a significant percentage of academic and administrative leaders — struggle to provide correct responses to all or even most of those questions.”

CLA Budget Facts 1001

Over the past six months, you’ve been hearing frequently from me and from President Gabel about college and University finances, respectively. Those communications have focused on the pandemic’s fiscal impact. 

Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article by Allison Vaillancourt that took a step back from pandemic-influenced finances for a more general examination. The article is titled “What if Everyone on Campus Understood the Money?

Ms. Vaillancourt reports that, “Whenever I give talks on this subject to higher-ed audiences, I often ask them to take a pop quiz about their own institutions. . . . Most faculty and staff members — and a significant percentage of academic and administrative leaders — struggle to provide correct responses to all or even most of those questions.”

Monday, September 28, 2020

DEI summit, actions, and focus areas

On August 26, over 80 CLA staff and faculty members gathered virtually for our first annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Summit. The event, originally scheduled for March, was a coming together of departmental DEI committee members and representatives from every department and unit at CLA. The summit aimed to help connect resources and colleagues, discuss what has been successful in departmental DEI work, what challenges departments face in this space, and what the college could do to assist departmental DEI efforts. A similar summit will be held for CLA administrative units in October. 

Thirteen small groups discussed these questions and reported back to the larger group. A document collating the group conversations is now online, and I encourage you to take a look in whichever way and to whatever depth you’d like. There is a lot of lived experience and creative thinking to explore in the document. Let me know what resonates and what strikes you as action steps that CLA should consider. CLA’s leadership team will be reading through all of the group reports to identify some key themes for action.

Friday, September 18, 2020

First glance at fall enrollment numbers and welcoming new faculty

I hope that your transition into the fall semester has gone reasonably smoothly. Many of the issues we’ve wrestled with over the late spring and summer to get ready for the fall have now settled into the routine of the fall semester, if one can label anything “routine” these days. Students moved into the residence halls this week and previously scheduled in-person classes that were moved to online or remote status for the first two weeks of the semester will begin to meet in person on Monday. 

Over the course of the summer, concerns about student enrollment in the fall were elevated around the country given the unusual nature of instruction and the college experience during the pandemic. This concern was true for us in CLA as well. Although we won’t have the official University reporting until after the 10th day of instruction, here’s how things are looking at the moment. Currently, first-year enrollment is at about 2400, which is 150 below the target we were aiming for. (A little history: CLA’s target had been 2450 prior to this year but based on our solid recruiting over the past five years we advocated successfully in summer 2019 to increase the target to 2550 for the incoming fall 2020 class. I don’t recall “but what about the pandemic” being on our agenda for that meeting, alas.) For transfer students, the college is currently at about 1125 new students, which is 125 lower than our target. The college also granted around 130 requests for a delayed start by one semester or one year. Those 130 students are in addition to the 3525 first-year and transfer students mentioned above. I will report on graduate student recruitment and enrollment in a future message.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Budget contingency plans and update

 Over the past several weeks I’ve shared with you an update on how the college closed out fiscal year 2020 as well as our initial fiscal steps in response to the pandemic

The “initial fiscal steps” post provides information on what we submitted to central for “Contingency Plan 1” in response to the fiscal effects of the pandemic. That post also provides more general information and background on the process and the targets we needed to meet. 

In late July, we submitted a list of items for “Contingency Plan 2.” As with Contingency 1, these items needed to total $7.4 million. The items submitted for Contingency 2 included:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

"Back to school" unlike any year before

(Message sent to CLA alumni, August 12, 2020.)

Many in our alumni community have reached out with questions about what campus will look like this fall, what safety measures will be in place, what students can expect, and more. While we don’t have all the answers amid what is an inherently dynamic situation, below is an idea of what we anticipate. 

First, the University is asking all students, faculty, and staff to do their part by following the protocols of the "Stop the Spread of COVID-19” campaign. This includes social distancing, hand washing, taking temperatures, and more. All University of Minnesota students, faculty, staff, and visitors will also be required to use a face covering when in any enclosed or indoor space on University campuses and properties with face shields available for instructors.

And all academic spaces—University and departmentally administered—that are scheduled for in-person classes this fall will be stocked with sanitizing wipes for instructor and student use, as well as disposable masks for students who forget their face covering. 

Read at CLA site