Chancellor Black Remarks
State of the Campus Address
Monday, February 27, 2012
3 p.m., Marshall Performing Arts Center
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. A year ago, we were involved in the many activities surrounding the Inauguration celebration.
Fast forward a year, and I'm pleased to share that together, we have made incredible progress over the past 12 months in meeting the Inauguration theme of: Envision, Shape, Unite.
Working together, we have completed a new Strategic Plan that envisions a new future for UMD and builds on our strengths;
Working together, we have created 20 campus climate change teams to shape a new future;
Working together, we have faced our budget challenges of a year ago with a new spirit of collaboration;
And along the way, we:
• Continued to attract a strong student body, and set another enrollment record last fall with 11,806 students;
• celebrated at last May's graduate commencement with the first 13 graduates from UMD's new Doctor of Education program, the first doctoral program offered exclusively on the UMD campus;
• continued our outstanding record of funded research projects;
• and won a men's hockey national championship!
This year, UMD is joining universities across the country by marking the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1862. That legislation laid the groundwork for the public research university's ongoing mission of learning, discovery, and engagement for the common good.
The University of Minnesota is one of the country's original land-grant institutions. We are proud of our roots as a land-grant university and remain dedicated to its mission of promoting access to higher education and collaborating to advance knowledge benefiting communities, the state, and world. As articulated in our new Vision Statement, UMD is both a land-grant and sea-grant university, because of our distinctive academic programs. UMD is distinguished as a land-grant university in our own right, and not only because of our association with the Twin Cities campus and with the University of Minnesota System. We support the original mission of the Morrill Act which stated in 1862 that it was creating universities: "in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life." (Morrill Act, 1862, section 4) One hundred and fifty years later, UMD is dedicated to a strong liberal arts education and strong professional schools and colleges that prepare our students (many of whom come from the 21st century equivalent of the industrial classes) to have life-long careers and to be wise and globally engaged citizens.
As a Sea Grant university, we are part of a national network of 32 university-based programs administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This network of the nation's top universities conducts scientific research, education, training, and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our nation's aquatic resources.
At UMD, our faculty continue to meet our land-grant mission by producing world-class research that makes a difference in our communities and research that fosters economic development. Our external funding awards for grants and contracts are impressive, exceeding $30 million dollars a year. UMD receives the second largest amount of research funding in the state behind the Twin Cities campus and more than all of the MNSCU campuses combined. And what makes our research distinctive is that most of it involves students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Because our research reinforces our primary focus on teaching, it helps us to promote a more integrated undergraduate experience for our students. UMD currently has 31 National Science Foundation projects and dozens of other research projects funded by outside sources. Our success has received national attention, with a team from the National Science Foundation visiting UMD last July and producing four video stories about UMD research for the Science Nation series.
Last year, I shared the seriousness of the budget challenges facing the University of Minnesota. This year's budget forecast is more optimistic, and as we did last year, my Cabinet will work with the UMD budget committee to collaboratively develop strategies to regain some of the lost ground in faculty positions, staff positions, and program support caused by the long series of budget cuts in previous years. While the budget outlook this year is better than last year, it is unlikely that state support for higher education will ever be restored to previous levels. And we cannot expect students to continue to pay higher and higher tuition bills. That means that we need to rethink how we deliver instruction as we help our students develop the knowledge and learn the skills to be globally engaged citizens. We also need to look closely at how we do business in all areas and to find new efficiencies that will help maintain excellence at reduced costs.
I am pleased that the newest member of my administrative team, Andrea Schokker, is now in place. Andrea began her duties in January as the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Dr. Schokker, please stand and be recognized. A search also recently began for the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations. These administrative changes have led to the reorganizing of areas within the vice chancellor units, which ultimately better serves our students, faculty and staff. Although we have some new administrative position, we have cut others and our net impact will be fewer administrators. For the current fiscal year, we added 7 positions that would be considered administrative, but we cut 16.75 administrative positions. This gave us a net decrease of 9.75 administrative positions. The added positions have been those that will increase revenues to UMD, or those that are needed to better serve our students. We have also strategically added a few new faculty and staff positions, and I anticipate we will add more faculty and staff positions next year.
Many of our long-time colleagues and friends from the faculty, staff, and administration took advantage of the Retirement Incentive Option, and we wish them well in this next exciting chapter of their lives. As each of these positions has been reviewed carefully, some have been continued, some consolidated and others have been eliminated. The RIO created opportunities for us to rethink how we are serving students in several areas.
We are joining campuses across the country in rethinking of how we deliver higher education and services to our students. As Dr. George Mehaffy from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities shared last week at UMD, we are facing unprecedented changes in higher education. I believe that Dr. Mehaffy is not being alarmist: if we don't make changes in how we operate, changes will be made for us. At the same time, there are many exciting opportunities for us within these unprecedented changes in higher education.
We need to look closer at the best ways to use technology-enhanced education. I know how difficult it is to keep up with the changes in technology. I remember how exciting and challenging it was the first time I used a lap-top computer in my teaching, a computer that was the newest model and had a huge 4 megabytes of RAM. Boy, I thought I would never use all that memory space. Today's entering freshmen have had Internet access, cell phones, Facebook and Twitter most of their lives. I started tweeting a few weeks ago. How many of you are on Twitter? How many of you are tweeting now?
The main purpose for Dr. Mehaffy being here was to present a national award to Vince Magnuson for his local and national impact on promoting civic engagement among university students. Many UMD offices such as the Office of Civic Engagement, NRRI, the Center for Economic Development, etc. have as their mission connecting UMD to the various communities we serve, as well as creating opportunities for our faculty, staff and students to make a difference for our neighbors in need. We also received 16 Strategic Initiative Grant proposals to support community partnerships and civic engagement activities, reflecting our faculty's and staff's commitment to these activities. Our community commitment extends throughout the more than 20 American Indian academic programs on our campus. As the Strategic Plan states: "We will serve the educational needs of indigenous peoples, as well as the economic growth, cultural preservation, and sovereignty of the American Indian nations of the region, the state and North America."
Despite all of the changes and challenges that we face in higher education, I am confident that our new Strategic Plan provides the blueprint that we need to not only survive but to thrive as a key campus within the University of Minnesota system. But keep in mind that the Strategic Plan is only a blueprint or road map to guide us into the future. We will have ongoing discussions about the implementation of this plan, and we will adjust our course, or re-calculate, as circumstances change.
The Strategic Plan goals are being integrated into the fabric of campus life, and I am getting positive responses to the plan from alumni and donors. Bookmarks about the Strategic Plan were distributed last fall at welcome events for faculty and staff and to new students at the freshmen convocation. Many of you have the bookmarks up in your work areas, reminding us all of our commitment to the success of our students.
Today, we distributed Strategic Plan booklets, and as a cost-saving measure, we will collect them when you leave if you already have one. This Strategic Plan provides a new vision for UMD while honoring and recognizing UMD's long tradition of excellence and its integral place within the University of Minnesota system. The Strategic Plan is at the center of our budget decisions and at the center of moving the campus forward on other planning elements, including enrollment, academics, technology, research, a master plan for facilities, a student affairs co-curricular plan, and a new targeted fund-raising plan.
I am pleased that Denny Falk, Professor of Social Work, has continued as the Faculty Fellow for Strategic Planning to work with me on the implementation of the plan. Denny has been working closely with the 25-member Integrated Strategic Advisory Team, which has met regularly since last fall. Since Denny will be teaching in UMD's Study in England Program during the spring, 2013 semester, this will be his last year in this position. So, soon I will initiate a search for a new Faculty Fellow in the Chancellor's Office to provide me an ongoing faculty perspective to the work of the administration.
Meanwhile, we made great progress over the past 12 months with UMD's campus climate change initiative. Goal 2 of the UMD Strategic Plan is to create a positive and inclusive campus climate by advancing equity, diversity, and social justice. Our goal is to create a campus characterized by a welcoming, supportive, safe, inclusive, and respectful environment or climate for all who learn and work at UMD. This process started 18 months ago when the Campus Climate Change was formed. Today, there are 20 campus change teams, with over 250 members from all areas. Working closely with the Strategic Planning process, the climate change team collective priorities are now captured in the Action Steps of Goal 2, which are listed on page 8 of the UMD Strategic Plan booklet. This year, the teams are focusing on the priorities as well as expanding the community engaged in this vital work.
Let me share two examples of the campus change team work.
The first is the integration of inclusion and cultural competence into the curriculum. That is, we strive to teach our students to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. The 2011-12 Curriculum Integration Project has created a website with course modules, print and electronic resources, names of faculty mentors, and teaching tools. Faculty members from several departments have utilized these materials in a variety of courses from freshmen seminars to Liberal Education courses to Upper Division courses in the major.
The second example is the development of a 3-year assessment plan to evaluate the cultural competence of our students and the impact of our efforts to create an inclusive campus. We continue to conduct student focus groups and develop "climate" questions to add to current surveys.
In all of this work, the campus climate change process strives to be transparent through an extensive website, emails, and programs. I am proud that our campus has been recognized by receiving the University of Minnesota OED Equity and Diversity Outstanding Unit Award last November. We are making good progress, but it must be clear to all of us that there is much more work to be done.
There has been much discussion over the past few weeks about student behavior at men's hockey games, and the most attention has been on the racist nature of some student chants. This behavior goes against our core values and runs counter to Goal #2 of our Strategic Plan.
In addition to the recent issue of racist chants, it is clear that we have not done enough in the past to deal with the sexist and profane nature of other chants. Athletics and the administration will enforce more strictly the Student Spectator Code of Conduct. But to be most effective, we need the entire campus to turn these instances and other instances of hurtful behavior into "teachable moments." In the classroom, in Kirby Student Center, and throughout campus, we all need to address such behaviors in ways that enhance our campus climate and deepen the learning and growth of our students. I am proud that our many of our students have begun themselves to address student behavior in positive ways. Students are correcting each other when they see inappropriate things happening. The administration, faculty, and staff must support our students who are taking a stand, and we must provide leadership and modeling for our students by exhibiting the positive, inclusive and civil behavior that we seek.
Meanwhile, we are taking a fresh look at our structure of shared governance at UMD. Some you want radical change in our governance structure and some of you want to leave our shared governance process as is. I'm convinced that we need to examine closely where our governance system is not serving us well and find ways to correct it. I have heard clearly from many faculty members that they want structures that clarify the primary place the faculty have in curricular issues. Many faculty members also want forums built into our governance process that will facilitate better interaction among faculty throughout campus. As we move forward with more integrated learning at UMD and more interdisciplinary curricular experiences, we need to facilitate opportunities for faculty to come together and work together across departments, schools and colleges.
I have heard clearly from staff that they want to continue to be a significant part of the campus governance process, and as I've said before, we need to take full advantage of the key contributions that staff members make to the learning that occurs at UMD and to creating a first-class learning environment.
As we discuss the shared governance issues, I will express my opinions of what needs to be fixed, but I will not prescribe what shared governance system we should use. I will provide opinions as we look at alternatives, and the Vice Chancellors will provide input. However, for this to be successful it needs to be more of a bottom-up than a top-down process. And it must be a process that is based upon civil discussion and respectful dialogue. This process will work best if we promote greater communication and collaboration as we consider new models, and if we work better with our current structure as we consider whether or not to change it.
We must also value the place students have in our governance structure and value their opinions. We have an outstanding Student Association at UMD, and I have great respect and admiration for their contributions to our university. But we should not have students making decisions that are the purview of faculty or staff or administration, and we must not put students in awkward positions as the faculty, staff, and administration debate changes in campus governance.
Several larger design and construction projects are currently underway on campus. We continue to lobby assertively for funding for the American Indian Learning Resource Center, but we are facing a potentially small bonding year and great competition for not enough state funds. Three other projects currently in design are the Heller Hall code and ventilation upgrade project, MPAC stage lighting and rigging replacement project, and the Campus Utility building located off of St. Marie Street. Construction of these projects may start this summer depending on final design and funding availability. However, funding for these projects is also uncertain at this time.
We will continue construction renovation projects this summer, as well various window and roof replacement projects.
Our campus commitment to sustainability is integrated throughout the UMD Strategic Plan. But beyond planning for campus action, this commitment is shown already through the work of our faculty, staff and students. Examples include: an undergraduate research project to establish a UMD Green Revolving Fund; working to grow food in campus gardens and at the UMD Farm; organizing a forum of experts on "The Future of Energy" through the Honors Program; and including sustainability as part of a business feasibility study in the LaBounty Entrepreneur Competition.
A liberal education requirement focused on sustainability will begin next fall, but already faculty across campus are incorporating sustainability into their curriculum. From geography to geology, from art education to anthropology, from economics to environmental science, students are seeking out experiences in sustainability, to gain an edge in a global economy where the environment, the economy, and societal needs are increasingly intertwined.
Operationally, UMD has worked hard to reduce waste, conserve energy, and save money. We have committed to the goal of reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions by 25% before the year 2020. With a 5% reduction in emissions between 2007 and 2010, we are on our way. Facilities Management staff have reduced equipment run-times, installed lighting controls and replacements, and upgraded utilities. The campus community has also contributed by participating in holiday and weekend energy conservation efforts. To meet our goal, we need a continued effort by everyone to conserve energy, in addition to continuing to upgrade buildings and utility systems to run more efficiently.
There are so many exciting things happening at UMD. As we face day-to-day challenges and frustrations, we should not forget that every day we are making a difference in our students' lives and making a difference in Duluth and in the many other diverse communities we serve. We need to continue exploring new opportunities that will take full advantage of our distinctive attributes, adjust and adapt to changing conditions in higher education, and rededicate ourselves to excellence that places UMD among the best higher education institutions of our type in the country.
In closing, I would like to thank you again for your dedication to UMD and to the success of our students. Working together, we will celebrate UMD's success and commitment to our land-grant and sea grant mission for many years to come.
We now have time for questions. Members of my staff are here with microphones so we can all hear your questions.