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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.