April 11, 2014
Dear Campus Community:
This week there has been much deserved attention to the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As President Obama indicated, the Civil Rights Act opened doors for many of our brothers and sisters who were shut out of public places and were victims of overt racism and discrimination. Students at UMD saw first-hand the successes and failures of the civil rights movement during a week-long trip to the South during Spring Break. The students were moved by the victories of the civil rights leaders they met and studied, but were disturbed by the stark disparities that still exist. I congratulate Cheryl Reitan, John Arthur, Mary Cameron, Chris Davila, Betty Greene, and Kaohlee Vue for serving as leaders on the trip and Susana Pelayo-Woodward in the Office of Cultural Diversity for her support in the planning and organizing of the trip. I was fortunate to spend an afternoon with the group in Memphis, where I hosted them for traditional Memphis barbecue and explored the National Civil Rights Museum.
As we continue to address issues of equity, diversity and social justice at UMD, we need to celebrate our progress and recognize that we still have much to do in order to reach our goals. This is also a good time to reflect on the importance of finding new ways to work with each other in collaborative and productive ways as students, faculty, staff, and administrators. We have had a number of challenges during this academic year, but we have many more successes and achievements that need to be celebrated. Every day I see examples of the amazing work of our faculty, staff and students.
We also continue to make progress on addressing our budget challenges. Our assertive and collaborative approach is working, and I am optimistic that we will receive strong support from President Kaler and his budget committee through the budget allocations for next fiscal year. We should have that information within the next week or two. Vice President Pfutzenreuter and Budget Director Tonneson spent two days this week meeting with several shared governance committees to explain the university budgeting process. They have pledged to provide more detail information regarding UMD's budget as needed. I appreciate the time and effort they have given us over the past several months and look forward to ongoing collaboration with them in the future.
Our Program Prioritization process continues based upon the results we have been discussing over the past few months. I appreciate the input we have received about the Program Prioritization results and appreciate the assistance of the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee. Administrators have been working with the staff and faculty of the programs affected. We have had to make tough decisions, but we are committed to keeping our focus on moving UMD forward to become a premiere comprehensive university.
As we keep our focus on undergraduate education, we will continue to explore new graduate programs that are distinctive and take advantage of our strengths. UMD faculty and students are conducting groundbreaking research and creative inquiry that creates new knowledge; solves problems; improves the quality of life locally and in many parts of the world; and enhances the economy, cultural life and artistic vitality of this region. We are producing top-notch graduates in all five of our colleges and schools.
In order to reach our strategic goals, we need the continued support of our legislative leaders and Governor. I appreciate the many members of our university and our community partners who have reached out to political leaders to advocate for UMD. We are seeing positive results, but we need to be diligent as this legislative session comes to a close over the next few weeks. Please continue to advocate for a larger allocation for the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Renovation Fund (HEAPR) and for the UMD Chemical Sciences and Advanced Materials Building. Our new building is in the House bill, but they recommended only $30 million of the University of Minnesota's $100 million HEAPR request. In order for us to renovate Cina Hall, Heller Hall, and the Romano Gymnasium, we need the university's HEAPR allocation to be much higher. The Senate's bonding bill should be released soon. Please contact your legislators, especially members of the Senate, as soon as possible, and voice your support for both UMD and the University of Minnesota's requests.
Thank you again for the outstanding work you do for our students. This is often the busiest time of year as we sprint toward the finish of another academic year. But it is also a great time of year as the snow melts (finally) and we can return to enjoying the unique natural areas around us in warmer temperatures. We also look forward to another commencement and to seeing the results of our work. Let's keep our focus on the successes of our students as we work together to achieve even greater levels of excellence at UMD.
Lendley C. Black
University of Minnesota Duluth
515 Darland Administration Building
1049 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812
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