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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.