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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Improvements in graduate education support

Chairs, administrators, and directors of graduate studies recently heard from Steve Manson, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, about initiatives in that office to provide more efficiency, flexibility, and funding for departments in graduate education. An example of efficiency would be eliminating certain reporting requirements. An example of flexibility is moving away from the application and competition-based CLA Graduate Fellowship system toward one where departments are given funds to manage and allowing these funds to be carried forward when not spent. As for increased funding, that will show up in more funding for summer fellowships, some additional fellowship dollars overall, collegiate absorption of the departmental portion of ICGC fellowships, and more. CLA is also investing in career support for graduate students, whether they seek an academic or non-academic path.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

CLA Roadmap overview and progress

For those of you new to CLA (and for anyone wanting a refresher), check out the CLA Roadmap page to learn about the Roadmap and review our latest Progress Report. Check out the links on the left-hand side of the page to dig a little further into our efforts around research and creative excellence, career readiness, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement. You might also want to visit this page to see our departments, centers, programs, and initiatives.

Ad hoc committee to review revisions to sabbaticals

As I’ve reported previously, the University has been in the process of working with governance groups to develop a new sabbatical system which would provide 1 semester of sabbatical at 100% of salary or 2 semesters at 50% of salary. The policy being currently considered by the Senate is here.

On belonging and mutual respect

Recent weeks have brought news about hate-inspired violence from around the country. The work of the liberal arts -- our research and creative work, instruction, engagement -- is always vital, but perhaps never so directly and meaningfully as when we grapple with and process these terrible events. Insights, perspectives, and analysis from our college help both to understand the present as well as envision paths toward a better future where mutual dignity and respect thrive. All of you can be rightly proud that you contribute to that knowledge creation.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The First Amendment, debate, and campus climate

(Remarks delivered November 5, 2018, at the Minnesota Daily First Amendment Celebration.)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Thank you to the Minnesota Daily for inviting me. It’s a great pleasure to join you today to discuss this critical topic.

The very foundations of college life are built on the principles laid out in the First Amendment. Whether you’re talking about the right to assemble or the right of a student-run newspaper to question the institution without penalty, the First Amendment is of vital importance to a college campus. Issues around freedom of speech, academic freedom, and the First Amendment are ones that I am passionate about.

Today I want to focus specifically on how the First Amendment affects two things: debate on campus and campus climate.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

State of the College 2018

In my State of the College address, I discussed CLA's progress and accomplishments of the past year,   shifting realities in higher education, Shattering Expectations (our $150 million fundraising campaign), CLA's 150th anniversary, and why we do what we do. You can read my remarks here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Honoring Prince Rogers Nelson

Remarks delivered at the Honorary Degree Ceremony for Prince Rogers Nelson, Ted Mann Concert Hall, September 26, 2018.

Good evening everyone. I’m John Coleman, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, which is home to the School of Music. I want to thank you all once again for joining us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 was a very exciting day in my office. That was the day that after months of behind-the-scenes work, my staff learned that we were on course to award Prince an honorary degree. As we started the nomination process, everyone was thrilled, anticipating the honor of recognizing such a remarkable Minnesotan.

You can imagine the shock and the complete turn of emotions when, the very next day, we learned of his passing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

CLA initiatives across the college, arts and humanities, and social sciences 2018

Last year I reported to you on initiatives led by our Associate Deans in the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and college-wide research. We have new initiatives to report for 2018.

Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities Jane Blocker has led up “The Paradise Project.” As she describes it, “Paradise is a concept that has appeared across the globe and throughout history, from the ancient world to the present day. It appears in art, literature, religion, philosophy, music, and theatre in every language and culture. As concept, belief, and practice, it is unique to the arts and humanities in that it defies scientific investigation, mocks evidentiary logics, questions material realities, and fundamentally exists as a work of the imagination, a hoped-for future, even as it has very real and profound effects on society, politics, health, identity, geography, and the environment. As CLA prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary and to think both about its past and its future, we seek to contemplate the concept of paradise and imagine how it might be created here on this campus, this verdant retreat from the world. We are creating an undergraduate course to be taught in spring semester 2019 on the topic of Paradise. The course will bring in faculty from across the arts and humanities to lecture on the history, politics, religious, artistic and literary interpretations of the concept. Students will apply their understanding to the task of re-imagining the campus for their successors. They will conduct research and create proposals to redesign the Washington Avenue Pedestrian Bridge as a garden.”

Enhancing the capabilities of the Office of Research and Graduate Programs

The relentless pursuit of research and creative excellence is one of the pillars of the CLA Roadmap. Accordingly, the college has taken a number of steps over the past several years, including an increase in the base stipend support for graduate students and the introduction of the Talle Faculty Award program for associate professors.

Enhancing the capabilities of the Office of Research and Graduate Programs has been an important component of achieving this Roadmap goal. ORGP has enhanced its services and embarked on a number of initiatives. To improve communication and awareness of these services and initiatives, the office launched a newsletter and a major update of its Neighborhood (intranet) Page.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Northeast Middle School Class of 2026

Watching the students receive their certificates at Northrop.

Last week I watched 175 middle school students cross the Northrop stage. They were the 8th-grade class of Northeast Middle School (NEMS) in Minneapolis, receiving their completion certificates. Over the course of the semester these students had worked with Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies (GWSS) Professor Jigna Desai and GWSS Research Associate Kari Smalkoski and their undergraduate students on a unique project: The Minnesota Youth Story Squad.

Meeting once a week, the undergraduate mentors and Dr. Jigna and Dr. Kari (as they are known to the students) would lead the 8th graders in discussions ranging from social justice to bullying and ultimately led the students in the creation of their own personal digital stories.

During the ceremony at Northrop the students debuted their stories in front of their friends and families. The images ranged from silly memes to carefully hand-drawn illustrations. The videos covered topics from immigration to stereotypes. All were poignant and dynamic.

It was a powerful reminder of the necessity to engage with not only with K-12 partners, but specifically those working in middle school. When universities work with K-12 entities, it is often on either end of the spectrum: before the 3rd grade and during high school. But those middle years are filled with innumerable changes -- physical, emotional, and social -- and are crucial to a student’s ultimate academic and personal success.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Results of the fiscal year 2019 Compact Process for CLA

Earlier this academic year I provided a preview of the annual Budget/Compact process, followed by a a midyear report when we had more details, and an update after our meeting with Central.

We now have our results from this year's process. Overall, CLA came out well. The college was required to put $1.9 million on the table for potential reallocation, reinvestment, and budget balancing around the U of M System. We were told this year that we should only make investment requests that qualified as emergency situations. We submitted one request for assistance with coordinating our diversity and inclusion efforts. Although not an emergency per se, it was of sufficiently high priority that we submitted a request.

On reallocation, Central accepted $900,000 and left the other $1 million in the college. That is not a new $1 million, but funds already being spent. On investment, our request was not specifically funded.

The Budget/Compact process also projects the college's new revenues (for example, from increases in tuition) and new expenses (for example, from compensation increases). Projected new revenues exceed projected expenses by a little over $3 million. Of that amount, $2 million was deployed to close budget gaps in other colleges and at System campuses. The resulting net $1 million remains available to the college.

Those are the basics with regard to our reallocations and investments. If you'd like more detail of how the process works, read on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Commencement remarks to the CLA Class of 2018

Remarks delivered Sunday, May 13, 2018, at Mariucci Arena. After a general welcome and introduction, the speech began with 20 seconds of silence.

Isn't it funny? 20 seconds of silence and no doubt you started to wonder, “What’s wrong?” “Did the microphone turn off?” “Did he forget the rest of his speech?”

It’s indicative of the world we live in today. Where every waking moment we have information coming at us. Calls and social media. Emails demanding attention. A huge list of saved posts and articles that you know you’ll never get a chance to read.

It’s no wonder then that quiet is sometimes the best way to get people’s attention. That the absence of something is what makes you sit down and take notice.

So now that I’ve got your attention for the next few seconds, let me ask you to do something:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Outcomes of the 2017 UMN Employee Engagement survey in CLA

The University conducted its employee engagement survey originally in 2014. The survey was offered again in 2015. After a one-year hiatus to allow some time for units to respond to the results of the 2015 survey, another iteration of the survey was administered in 2017. Survey results are available and the college level and, where there were at least 5 faculty or staff respondents, at the unit level as well.  I understand and appreciate the problems identified by faculty and staff with the survey instrument. Still, the survey can be used to glean some insights for follow-up action.

Update on the Compact process for fiscal year 2019

As I reported in an earlier post, the Compact process this year presented CLA with the task of finding $1.9 million dollars to put on the table for reallocation. These dollars are used to resolve budget imbalances within the University of Minnesota System.

In previous years, the process also allowed colleges to request investments. For example, CLA has received support for its Career Readiness Initiative, for improvements in graduate student stipends, and for faculty cluster hires, among other items, in prior rounds of the Compact process. For this coming year, however, colleges were not asked to provide investment requests given the need to resolve budget issues around the System.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Compact process for fiscal year 2019

The early part of the year brings with it certain timeless routines. Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Spring training baseball in Florida and Arizona. And, of course, the annual Budget/Compact Process here at the U.

Say the words "the Compact" around campus and clouds roll in, eyes look to the ground, solemn vows are taken, small animals start scurrying. Some say it is mere legend and myth, akin to mere mortals attempting to grasp misty vapor.

But indeed, I can confirm that the Compact exists. In an effort to demystify the mysterious process, I have explained in detail in previous years how the Compact process works. I won't go into that detail again here. For those of you new to the college, or who may have drifted off while reading my previous prose on the matter, I would point you to the detailed description of the process here (some of the details of the process have changed since then, but on the whole the essence of the process is the same) and here (for last year's outcomes). 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.