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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Shattering Expectations campaign impact

CLA’s Shattering Expectations campaign, part of the University’s Driven campaign, officially came to a close on June 30, 2021. More than 21,000 alumni, friends, faculty, and staff gave over $182 million to support the college, departments, students—21 percent above our $150 million goal. Those are impressive numbers and we reach them only because donors are confident they are investing in important work and investing in the success of faculty, staff, and students. Groundbreaking research, inspiring educational opportunity, and meaningful engagement with communities. That’s what donors see. Everyone in the college has a hand in making that happen, in making CLA a place that attracts support.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Balanced budget and enrollment update

It’s been wonderful to see the campus active and energized during this first week of the semester. Throughout the summer, concerns were raised about various aspects of the return to campus and the return to classrooms. Raising these concerns helped us highlight issues to bring to the attention of offices in central and generated the sharing of ideas across CLA on how units were handling particular challenges. Many thanks to everyone — and there are many in departments, in shared governance bodies, and across college offices — who have worked so hard to get us to this point. I’d like to offer a special note of appreciation for the work of Anika Carlsted, CLA Assistant Director of Facilities and Capital Planning, for her absolutely tireless efforts this summer working across the college, communicating with department leaders, and conveying to offices what was needed to ensure buildings and classrooms were safe for the fall.

We are back to the campus, but not back to the campus of 2019. Our experience during the pandemic demonstrated ways in which the Future of Work was going to differ from the workplace as it was. Most notably, that difference has shown up in more provision for work schedules that are partly on campus and partly remote. It has been interesting to observe that change in action as well this week. These changes may have been kickstarted by the pandemic, but they are more truly a new way of work that will continue to evolve. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Return to Campus

It has been wonderful to see the bustle on campus and in offices this week as the Work From Home order expired and we were able to see each other in person again. Thank you to all of you who have facilitated this return. 

We are in new times. That day in March 2020 when we left campus to begin working from home was the last time when more or less everybody, in the general though not literal sense, was on campus together. 

The new times have important continuities from the past. We remain predominantly a residential, place-based institution. Our commitment to the work, to each other, and to our teams and colleagues means we collaboratively take each other’s interests and needs into account as we arrange our work plans. Laura, my wife, has an Aunt Jenny, and one of her Aunt Jennyisms is that your presence is important to others, that it is important to others and their experience that you are there. I’ve thought of that wisdom during this week.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Budget and Compact results for FY 2022

The Board of Regents is discussing the University’s proposed budget at this week’s meeting and will take final action at the end of June. For the college, part of this annual cycle is the conclusion of the Compact process. I’ve noted previously that this year the Compact process instructions required each college and administrative support unit to develop recurring reallocation options (i.e., spending reductions) of 3%, 6%, and 9% of what’s referred to as O&M (basically, tuition and state appropriations) to address the anticipated budget pressures for the upcoming biennium.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Shared governance update for 2020-21

Across the long trek of the academic year, the college’s navigation through the pandemic benefited significantly from our shared governance groups. 

These groups include long-standing and vital constitutional governance bodies such as the Assembly; Council of Chairs; Administrators Forum; P&A Board, Student Board; Promotion and Tenure Review Committee; Curriculum, Instruction, and Advising Committee; Course Review Committee; and Executive Committee. Each of these groups made substantial contributions throughout the year. To give but one example, the Assembly, the college’s most widely representative governance body, made significant contributions through identifying and communicating principles and guidelines for collegiate statements on diversity and equity, collaborating with the Center for Education Innovation to identify effective strategies for inclusive teaching in a distance-learning environment, and developing and reaffirming the Assembly’s values and principles for budget reallocation to meet the challenge of pandemic-era budgeting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

One year after George Floyd's murder

Today marks one year since the murder of George Floyd. On this day, I join other individuals and communities who are thinking of Mr. Floyd’s family and loved ones, who dearly miss their father, brother, and friend. It will be a day when people across the globe pause and reflect. Here in the Twin Cities and on our campus, we take this moment to reflect on the historic movement his murder sparked in Minnesota and around the world. We take this moment to reach out and listen to our Black colleagues, students, and friends who have been deeply affected by Mr. Floyd’s death. We take this moment to acknowledge the particular distress that the painful events of the past year have caused our colleagues and students from BIPOC and other marginalized communities. And we take this moment to reaffirm our commitment to moving forward on the issues of race, justice, dignity, and respect, as a college and as individuals. 

Visit CLA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page for more information about our collective efforts, projects, progress, and initiatives in this area. And as President Gabel shared in her message this morning, the University has compiled a list of support and educational resources that you may find helpful today and throughout the year. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

CLA's future of work goals

I know many in our CLA community are anxious to understand what the future of work will look like when the University’s work-from-home restriction expires in August. As a college community, we don’t yet have all the answers, but I’d like to summarize the feedback we’re receiving from faculty and staff and share the interests and concerns at the heart of Future of Work discussions underway in the college. This message also indicates how you can contribute to these conversations. 

Thinking through these issues is a work in progress. August 2 will be a start, but only a start. Almost certainly there’ll be a need to revise, assess, and adjust as we move along. That’s okay. I also note that the discussion below focuses largely on the supervisor and staff experience that has been predominantly discussed in the Future of Work group. Nonetheless, units thinking through issues of faculty work may also find this discussion of assistance.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Extraordinary efforts during an extraordinary year

As we near the end of the semester, I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your outstanding and extraordinary efforts this academic year. 

It has been a time like no other in our college’s history, a time of challenges that we couldn’t have imagined a couple of years ago. I think back to the beginning of the pandemic, when we went from the occasional video conference to holding over 40,000 Zoom meetings per week. When instructors converted their in-person instruction in massive numbers to remote and online courses. When CLA’s academic advisors and career counselors had to switch on a dime and began conducting hundreds of virtual meetings per day with students. When LATIS helped convert hundreds of classes to an online format in a matter of days and weeks. When we all adjusted to a work from home experience with no clear sense of how long it would last.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Fiscal year 2021 recap and fiscal year 2022 projections

 As we head toward the end of the academic and fiscal years, I wanted to provide you with an update on fiscal and budgetary matters. You can find previous fiscal messages by scrolling to the bottom of the CLA COVID-19 page. 

For the current fiscal year (FY21), by the University’s estimates the U’s budgetary shortfall, including all colleges, campuses, and units, is $170 million. That gap is expected to be met through various spending reductions across units, including the hiring and merit freezes; use of budgetary reserves; the pay reduction and furlough program; a loan to Gopher Athletics; and assistance through the federal relief programs which are to be used for FY21 only.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Statement regarding Chauvin trial and verdict

(Message sent to CLA students, staff, and faculty on April 20, 2021.)

Dear CLA community,

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed a few miles from campus. The killing was appalling and outrageous. It shocked the conscience of millions throughout our state, across the country, and around the world. Today, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of 2nd and 3rd degree murder and manslaughter in Mr. Floyd’s death.

The time in between has been a time of grief, of action, of anxiety and concern. It has underlined the stark inequities faced by Black and Indigenous communities and communities of color in Minnesota and across the country. And it has seen a powerful call for reform, not just surrounding matters of policing, but across all sectors of society.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Budget and enrollment update

As is the case every other spring, we await the results of the state biennium budget process to have a better sense of the University’s and college’s finances heading into fiscal year 2022. To date, the state House, Senate, and the Governor, as expected, have put forward different figures for higher education funding in the next biennium. Over the coming months, they will come to an agreement as they enact the state budget for fiscal years 2022-23.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Supporting our Asian and Asian American faculty and staff

(Versions of this message were sent to CLA faculty, staff, and students on March 18, 2021.)

We find ourselves reeling from another horrific tragedy, as eight people were murdered during mass shootings in Atlanta on Tuesday. We mourn the loss of these lives and express our deepest sorrow for the families and loved ones of the victims. 

Six women of Asian descent were among the victims. The blunt and horrible occurrence of this latest act once again brings instances of violence against Asians and Asian Americans to the forefront of our national attention. Our Asian American community and many of our international staff, faculty, and students have endured the fear and pain of hateful responses to the COVID pandemic and other instances of bigotry and attacks against the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American communities since March 2020. The pain and fear these kinds of horrendous and violent incidents cause is a heavy load to bear for our Asian and Asian American community in CLA.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Three possible University budget scenarios

As we all know, the University’s financial picture became unsettled with the onset of the pandemic. We worked our way through fiscal year 2020, are proceeding through fiscal year 2021 with many adjustments in spending and revenue. And, as I’ve reported to you previously, we are planning for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 as the state enters a new budget biennium. 

Late last month, we had our first look at the University’s budget framework for fiscal 2022. The framework outlines the main parameters of University budget assumptions and planning for the coming year — changes in state appropriations, tuition rate adjustments, potential compensation increases, possible funds for investment in academic units, and so on. The framework is a starting point, as during the spring any of these variables might not pan out to be what was planned or hoped for in the framework.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fundraising campaign success

As you know, the college and University have been engaged in multi-year fundraising campaigns that are now entering their final months. For CLA, our Shattering Expectations campaign goal was to raise $150 million. We passed that mark early on, exceeding the goal in December 2019. Gifts arrive in different forms. Some are gifts that can be spent immediately, others are endowments that provide spendable income in perpetuity (a $1 million gift provides $45,000 annually), and a final set are bequest and estate gifts for the future. 

I’m now pleased to report that we have hit our target for all three original campaign priorities: $50 million for student readiness, $65 million for research and engagement; and $35 million for diversity, access, and inclusion.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Best in the world, best for the world

 Recently, I listened to a TEDx talk on “the purpose-driven university.” The basic premise of the talk was that colleges and universities should not occupy themselves only with being best in the world, but also best for the world. 

At an institution like the University of Minnesota, that sense of the connection of the University to the state and world around it is central to our identity. And it is central as well for CLA, embedded in the Roadmap’s commitment to deepening the college’s culture of engagement with communities from the local to the global and with our alumni and friends around the world.

Friday, January 8, 2021

On the events of this week

(Message sent to CLA faculty, staff, and students on January 8, 2021.)

On Wednesday afternoon of this week, Americans, and indeed people around the world, looked on in shock and horror as rioters took the U.S. Capitol under siege. Across the political spectrum, these violent actions were appropriately denounced as an outrageous and vile assault on democratic norms, the republic, and the rule of law. I was angered and outraged, and also deeply saddened, by what was happening in our nation’s capital.

On Wednesday evening, the process of the transition of power resumed as the votes of the Electoral College were certified. It was what the country needed to see at that very time and in that very building.