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Friday, August 19, 2016

Budget Advisory Committee report on center reviews

I reported previously that in fall 2015 I asked the Budget Advisory Committee to put individual center reviews on pause and, instead, to engage in a broader conversation about the review process and to provide us with an overview of center support, review, and administrative arrangements, along with any recommendations the BAC might have. Centers provide a key intellectual and interdisciplinary role in the college and the time was right was a comprehensive overview. The BAC report is now available (click on the BAC Documents link). I thank the committee for its hard work and I encourage you to read it and provide feedback to cladean@umn.edu.

Faculty recruitment 2016-17

2015-16 was an exceptionally busy year of recruitment activity in the college. The college added 32 tenured and tenure track faculty across 18 departments. This is an unusually high level of recruitment and we look forward to the surge of new intellectual energy these colleagues will bring to our college. 

Adding world-class faculty to our roster drives our success. They will significantly accelerate our research and creative excellence with a diverse faculty, provide inspirational instruction and life-shaping opportunity for our undergraduate and graduate students, and serve our communities through outreach and engagement. Through advancing our Roadmap goals of student readiness for their lives after campus, a relentless focus on research and creative excellence, diversity and inclusion as central values of the college, and deepening a culture of engagement, our new faculty will join our current faculty in demonstrating the continued vitality and critical importance of the liberal arts and moving us toward fulfilling our vision of CLA as a destination college. Thanks to all of you who were part of the recruitment efforts and departmental visits and to Associate Deans Ana Paula Ferreira (Arts and Humanities) and Penny Edgell (Social Sciences) for their work on successfully recruiting these outstanding scholars to CLA. 

In the 2016-17 academic year, CLA will conduct searches for regular faculty positions across a number of units. Searches authorized include departments involved in three-year planning as well as departments submitting requests as part of the annual budget process. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Internationalization task force follow up

The CLA Task Force on Internationalization issued its report in the spring. Based on your feedback on the report, we will be following up on three areas of recommendation in the report as first steps:

  • Enhancing visibility: The Task Force agreed that there is a great deal of international activity around teaching and research already underway in CLA, but that we have not yet done enough to pull this together to demonstrate the scale and scope of our efforts. 
  • Improving the quality of learning abroad: The Task Force was eager to improve the quality of learning abroad opportunities for our students.  It was agreed that the Learning Abroad Center (LAC) offers a plethora of options, but students do not receive the guidance necessary to select the best opportunity or to prepare adequately for that opportunity, and that programs are uneven in how well they intersect with the academic goals of our majors. To address these shortcomings, CLA’s Office of Undergraduate Education will hire a staff member in a position shared with LAC as well as appoint a faculty member to lead initiatives in this area.
  • Going “glocal": CLA should take fuller advantage of the diverse and global community in which our campus is situated, creating opportunities for students to connect the global and the local. The Institute for Global Studies and the Office of Undergraduate Education will begin discussing next steps in this area. 

The Task Force report also included a number of other recommendations that may warrant future action. Some of the recommendations, as noted in your feedback, intersect with more general issues and are not limited to the international arena itself. Support for research and travel would be one example in that category. Thanks again to the Task Force for its dedicated work and to all of you who provided feedback.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Departmental career services and student readiness

The CLA Roadmap commits the college to a goal of student readiness: making students with CLA degrees the most desirable graduates for their career pursuits and for engagement in their communities. This past year, as one of our Roadmap initiatives we rolled out a new model of providing career services assistance for all departments across the college. The results to date have been encouraging and in some respects dramatic. For example, our career advisors visited 5 classes in fall 2014, and 74 in fall 2015. Read more in this analysis by Maggie Heier and Katy Hinz.

What do first-year students think?

Kat Albrecht and Rebecca Xiao, two students serving as First Year Experience Team Leaders in 2015-16, set out to examine six "myths" about first-year students, including their optimism about college, their interest in careers, and their social media habits. Well worth reading.

CLA Transfer Student Initiative

Every year, CLA welcomes 1800+ transfer students to the CLA community. I’m proud that CLA provides opportunity for so many students who started at other institutions. We can rightly say that we are Minnesota's opportunity college. Transfer students are a vital part of CLA and we have been working to improve the transfer student experience.

Our CLA Transfer Student Initiative has several components. Prior to launching TSI, we had about 1 FTE devoted to transfer advising. Now we expect to have about 3-3.5 FTE. This fall we will also be piloting a Transfer Semester Experience course for new transfer students, much like the First Year Experience course for new freshmen. And our new Transfer Coordinator will be working with our departments and advisors at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities institutions to prepare transfer guides which will help students succeed in their transfer to CLA.

The college and campus environment for transfer students was an area of focus for our CLA Student Board in 2015-16. They found a number of ways in which the experience could be improved, including relatively small changes beginning with orientation at the campus level. There is work being done at the university level as well as in CLA to enhance the transfer student experience, and this is all to the good.