Go to the U of M home page

Friday, September 8, 2017

My welcome back message to undergraduates

(This message was sent to all undergraduate students on September 5, 2017.) 

Dear CLA Students,

Welcome to the 2017-18 academic year! Whether it's your first time on campus or you're a few credits shy of graduating, I hope this semester brings you new opportunities to learn, grow, and enrich yourself and the people around you.

You're in college at a very dynamic time historically, politically, economically, and socially. There are many challenges facing your generation. At CLA we know your education will put you ahead of the curve and give you advantages in every aspect of your life: from the workplace, to your personal life, to the communities you join and create.

This “Shattering Expectations” animated video explains the liberal arts advantage and our goals for your education: that you graduate from CLA with a profound sense of possibility, inclusivity, and innovation. We are a campus that welcomes diversity of beliefs, backgrounds, and viewpoints. This embrace of diverse views and backgrounds will be the source of the solutions to today's greatest challenges, is the foundation of a great university, and is the right thing to do.

Speak freely and listen carefully. You won’t always agree with what you hear. This is a university campus and the exchange of ideas and the pursuit of knowledge is our absolute foundation. We all have to protect that foundation. Hear people out. Debate and challenge ideas that you find wrongheaded. Listen to what others are saying. Avoid assuming you know other people’s motivations when you don’t really know. Treat others as you’d like to be treated.

I want you to know, that whatever your political views; the presence or absence of religious beliefs; your ethnicity, race, disability status, gender identification, veteran status, sexual orientation, age, parental status, or country of origin; introvert or extrovert; whether your family income is low, middle, or high; and whether you hail from the city or the country or from inside or outside Minnesota … you have a place here, you earned your way here, and you belong here.

From your ability to debate respectfully and thoughtfully, to your capacity to pursue new paths of knowledge and discover new modes of thinking and problem-solving, you are tomorrow’s leaders.

Get ready. CLA is here to prepare you for whatever life—or the world—throws your way. We’re here to help you succeed and thrive.

Keep in touch! You can follow my words of wisdom (or words, anyway) on Twitter (@cla_coleman) and you can always reach me by email. And follow CLA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to know what’s happening around the college. Most of our majors, departments, and student groups are also on social media, so I encourage you to check those out also.

Have a great semester!


John Coleman, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts