Chancellor Lendley C. Black
UMD Inauguration Speech
March 4, 2011
Thank you, President Bruininks, for giving me this opportunity and for your support during my first year at UMD. I wish you the best in the next phase of your career. We will miss your leadership and appreciate your many contributions to the U and to UMD.
Lieutenant Governor Pretner-Solon, Board of Regents Chair Allen, Mayor Ness, other distinguished members of the platform party, UMD deans, faculty, staff and students, and members of the Duluth community: thank you all for being here today, for your part in bringing me and Connie to Duluth, and for your hospitality and friendship over the past seven months.
A small but important group in front of me deserves special recognition, because they are each a very important part of me. Cindy Hatler, my dear sister is here from Memphis, Tennessee. Our daughter Liz, her husband Matt Rappaport, and those cute grandchildren Sarah and Max are here from the Twin Cities. Our son Nick, his wife Sara Garland, and their equally cute son Henry are here from New York. Our other son Chris was not able to be with us today, but he is here in our thoughts and in our hearts. I love you all and appreciate the time and effort it took for you to share this special day with me.
With the help of John Deacon (Song writer and Queen's bass guitarist for those of you who don't know), I'd like to say to you Connie, as sung by Freddy Mercury: "Ooh you're the best friend that I ever had; I've been with you such a long time; You're my sunshine; and I want you to know That my feelings are true; I really love you; You're my Best Friend! Oooh you make me live!
I would like to thank all of you who spoke today. It means so much to me to hear all of your kind words, and I feel bolstered by your confidence in my abilities to serve you. I will live up to your expectations, and I look forward to our continued collaboration as we make UMD an even stronger leader in higher education, and as we make Duluth an even greater place to live and work.
Thank you, Pastor Larson, for your inspiring invocation and for your ministry. I would like to thank Justin Rubin for composing such an outstanding fanfare. Thank you also to Mark Whitlock and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and to Tina Thielen Gaffey and the students of Lake Effect and Chill Factor for their strong performances. I was told how powerful it is to have the American Indian Honor Song performed, and now I understand why it's such an important part of UMD's ceremonial tradition. Thank you Michael Munnell and the Maa-inn-gan singers for your special performance.
I would like to thank the delegates from the colleges and universities who traveled to Duluth to celebrate with me. I give a special thanks to you Dan Papp, President of Kennesaw State University, for being here today and for your mentorship and friendship. We accomplished much together, and I wish you ongoing success. I'd like to say hello to my Kennesaw friends, especially my fourth-floor staff who are tuning in to the webcast. I also understand that I have colleagues from Emporia State University and family members tuning in who were not able to be here today.
I would like to say a special thank you to the inauguration committee and to my office staff, especially Lucy Kragness, Jean Conner, and Kate Andrews, for their outstanding work with the myriad of details and arrangements associated with this event. Would the inauguration committee and my staff all stand and be recognized?
To my UMD colleagues, many of whom marched in during the procession, you are the reason why UMD is a leader in higher education. Professor Hamlin and Dr. Hegrenes extended greetings from the faculty and the staff, and their comments reinforced how fortunate we are to work together to provide such an outstanding educational experience for our students. I have said this many times, and I want to stress this again today that we are all educators at UMD. No matter what title or job description you hold as part of the faculty, staff, or administration, you are all important to creating an outstanding community of learners on this campus.
To all of the students who are here you are our present and our future. You are the real reason that we are here this afternoon and the primary reason that we come to work every day. Among the many challenges and issues we face, we cannot lose sight of our keen focus on doing what's in the best interest of our students. I also appreciate the many alumni who are here to celebrate a new phase in UMD's development. You are all the living history of UMD, and I appreciate your ongoing advice, assistance, and financial support as we make UMD an even greater place, and as we make your University of Minnesota degree even more valuable. It is significant that even in these difficult financial times, personal giving to UMD remains strong from our alumni and friends.
What a difference a year makes. In March of 2010, I was in a great job with an outstanding group of people. My contented and warm existence in Georgia was interrupted a year ago by multiple requests that I look seriously at the Chancellor position at the University of Minnesota Duluth. At first Connie said "Forget it." Nick said, "Have you looked at a map?" But the more we researched UMD and the more we thought about the opportunity to be close to the Rappaports, the more intrigued we became. Now, it is clear that we were supposed to be here, and we already feel at home in the Northland of Minnesota. I appreciate the members of the search committee who invited me here, and the faculty and staff members who agreed with the committee's assessment of my potential fit for UMD. Thank you President Bruininks and Senior Vice President Jones for choosing me, and thank you distinguished members of the Board of Regents for approving my appointment.
During the interview process, I spoke with Provost Tom Sullivan and many others in the Twin Cities and in Duluth about UMD's fine tradition and its future potential. I have great admiration for what Kathryn Martin accomplished in her fifteen years as chancellor. I knew I would be building on solid ground. However, what I have discovered about UMD and the Duluth community over the past seven months has exceeded my high expectations.
I found that UMD has an outstanding academic reputation and a robust array of majors, minors, and special programs to meet student needs, including our recently added undergraduate minor in African/African American Studies and our new master's degree in Tribal Administration and Governance. Like many regional comprehensive universities, UMD offers a wide range of academic programs, but unlike many other institutions of our type we leverage our place within the U of M system with our Medical School, College of Pharmacy, and collaborative doctoral programs with the Twin Cities campus.
We continue to build on our strengths in Business and Economics, Education and Human Services Professions, Fine Arts, Liberal Arts, and Science and Engineering. In addition, we have particular strengths in areas such as freshwater research, Native American education, community outreach, and economic development. Our first priority is the student experience, and we provide opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and doctoral candidates to participate in classroom, laboratory, and field study. We are known nationally for our accomplishments in undergraduate research and our faculty and students have travelled around the world to places like Central Africa and Turkey to conduct research and share artistic performances. UMD is focusing on student learning through the development and assessment of measurable outcomes. Conversations are occurring throughout campus among faculty and staff about student learning and how to improve learning in our degree programs and co-curricular activities.
Significant numbers of our students participate in civic engagement and service-learning, partnering with over sixty different community organizations in an effort to help prepare educated citizens and strengthen civic responsibility.
We are proud of our excellence in research and the large amount of external funding acquired by our faculty and staff. For an institution of our type, the totals are impressive as our current active external funding awards for grants and contracts equals $58 million dollars. Our scientists are producing world-class research with the assistance of undergraduate and graduate students. Our Large Lakes Observatory and Sea Grant programs have international reputations for excellence. UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute promotes private sector employment and provides state-wide decision-makers with environmental information and services in diverse areas such as water quality, Moose populations, iron ore operations, and the timber industry. UMD also has a significant impact on local business and industry through our Center for Economic Development, our innovative Financial Markets Program, and the new Financial Planning Learning Lab, which is located downtown on Superior Street and was created through a partnership with JBNA Financial Advisors.
UMD is committed to positive and productive student life experiences and to those activities outside the classroom that enhance student learning and student growth. Last fall semester's Chancellor's Welcome Convocation at Bulldog Welcome Week was the first time that the broad UMD community turned out to welcome our new freshmen to campus. The range of faculty and staff participants and the enthusiasm with which they participated in the welcome line and the processional set a tone for the year that supported students in an inclusive way. For the second year in a row we have registered and supported more than 200 student organizations and sports clubs. Student involvement this year with organizations is the highest it has ever been.
A key initiative this year is the creation of a more inclusive and diverse campus culture, and I am pleased with the progress of our campus climate change teams. To serve our students well, we must prepare them to be competent and fully engaged citizens of a global society, and we must have a campus of inclusion and opportunity for all of our students, faculty, and staff. Today, I repeat what I said to the campus the first week of September. We will not reach our full potential academically until we have a campus that values the contributions and understands the differences that we all bring to our distinctive learning environment. Also we will not reach our full potential until we all demonstrate a zero tolerance for exclusionary and hurtful behaviors and practices.
Although the building on this campus over that past ten years has been incredible, we are not standing still. We are currently constructing a $14 million, 280-bed residence hall expansion that will open in the fall of 2011 on budget and on-time. We have completed design and construction documents for the American Indian Learning Resource Center. The project is now shovel ready and construction will begin as soon as funding is received from the Legislature. We have signed the UMD campus energy action plan that commits the campus to reducing our carbon footprint by 25 percent in 2025 and to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The Bagley Outdoor Classroom, designed by Duluth architect David Salmela and constructed by UMD's own Facilities Management personnel, opened in June 2010. It is the first building in the University system to be certified by LEED at the platinum level.
2010 was an extraordinary year for UMD athletics, with a Division I national championship in women's hockey and a Division II national championship in football. But what's even more important to me is the academic excellence of our student athletes and the many contributions our athletes make to all parts of campus life at UMD.
So, what's next as we envision, shape, and unite around a new UMD vision? I am optimistic that by the end of April we will have a new strategic plan for UMD, which will more clearly define our mission and will describe an ideal future that will both stretch us and excite us. Because as good as we are today, we cannot settle. In spite of the current economic challenges, we need to continue exploring new opportunities that will take full advantage of our distinctive attributes and develop a unique niche that places UMD among the best higher education institutions of our type in the country.
Although our strategic plan is not finished, here is what I'm hearing from the over 2,000 people involved in this planning process so far. As we serve the entire state and region, we will take full advantage our sense of place in Northeast Minnesota and our location overlooking the dramatic shores of Lake Superior. Within an academic environment of high expectations, we will nurture a dynamic learning culture where innovation and comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs, interdisciplinary research opportunities, and thriving collaborative international exchanges frame student success. We will encourage curiosity, exploration, and the ability to speak honestly about issues and ourselves. We will enhance our research presence and accomplishments in Minnesota and in the region and be well-recognized nationally as a center of inquiry, professional expertise, and knowledge. We will have a campus culture that welcomes students, faculty, staff, and guests to an inclusive learning climate framed by a commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice. We will greet a global future while maintaining a strong presence in the cultural, economic, and intellectual life of the Duluth community, the state, and the nation. We will strengthen UMD's international programs and services by establishing the centrality of international activities on our campus, and by leveraging our place within the global strategies of the University of Minnesota System. We will be a model of community engagement and service, which improves the quality of life in our region and brings a greater depth of understanding, meaning, and purpose to the UMD educational experience.
We are proud of being an important part of the University of Minnesota System and being second in the state to the Twin Cities campus in external funding for research and on other measures. But our vision is to be second to no one as we chart our unique course to be among the best in the nation.
In addition to the Queen CDs in my car, I currently have Santana, the Eagles, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Yes, this is one way I wind down after a long day at UMD, or as I drive to the Twin Cities. Tom Petty sings about running down a dream; working on a mystery; going wherever it leads; running down a dream. Whatever our future holds, I am proud and honored to be your chancellor, to be your colleague and to be your neighbor. I am honored to work with you as we run down the dream of a new and exciting future for UMD.
And just as Freddy Mercury sings, yes, we indeed can be the "Champions of the World!"