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Chancellor Black Remarks
Town Hall Meeting
May 15, 2014
Good morning and thank you for coming to today's Town Hall meeting. This is perhaps our busiest time of year, but I thought it was important that we gather before the end of the semester to celebrate our accomplishments and to review the progress we have made in solving UMD's budget challenges. It has been a stressful academic year, but it has also been a year of great achievements. Several other colleges and universities in our area are beginning to struggle with similar challenges and institutions across the country have been dealing with budget issues for some time which are much more severe than the ones we face.
You are all valued members of the UMD community and have an incredible impact on the lives of our students. There will always be internal struggles, challenges and disappointments. But there is also great joy in the impact we have on our students and there can be great joy in our daily work, especially if we can get beyond the hard feelings and lack of trust that comes from a lack of understanding and from a fear of the unknown. I continue to be dedicated to improved communication and collaboration. This is why I asked you to join me today in celebrating our accomplishments as we plan for the next steps in addressing our budget challenges.
I'm wondering how many of you saw the letter to the editor in the Duluth News Tribune on May 7 from Richard Beeson, who is chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. For those of you who missed it, Chair Beeson wrote this editorial after he, five other Regents, members of the Regents staff, and President Kaler's Chief of Staff visited UMD. I won't read the entire letter to you, but I will highlight a few points.
• He referenced how impressed he was with the academic and athletic achievements of our student athletes. Chair Beeson and our other guests attended the annual the Dinner With Champions, a partnership between UMD and the Duluth business community. He said, "These were Bulldogs who represent themselves and their school well, both in competition and as students. As importantly, they are dedicated to public service in the Duluth community. . ."
• He also applauded the firsthand look at some of the incredible work and important research being done on a daily basis across campus. . . and at the Natural Resources Research Institute. He said, "It's clear UMD continues to have a positive impact regionally and throughout our state." And while he was here, we made clear that our research also has a national and international impact.
• He said the Regents came away with a better understanding of the preparations we have made to address the dynamic challenges of higher education budgeting. He said that the Regents have the highest level of confidence the solutions moving forward will maintain UMD's critical value to the University of Minnesota system and the entire state.
• Chair Beeson's letter ended with this statement: "UMD's success on all fronts is paramount, and we will continue to ensure the necessary resources are available to advance the distinct mission of the campus and establish a strong foundation for the future."
I was so proud to read such a positive, thoughtful and upbeat letter from Regent Beeson, who as chair of the board literally oversees the entire University of Minnesota system.
The letter reminded me that while it is human nature to focus on the negative, we must remember to celebrate all of the positive work that you do each day for the success of our students. I am an optimist, but also a realist by necessity. For me, the UMD glass is WAY over half full.
Here are just a few examples from across campus of our successes during the 2013 - 2014 academic year:
• Celebrated an academic milestone that we'll be talking about for years to come: Brian Kobilka returned to UMD last fall to lecture and to be honored for receiving the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
• Alec Habig, UMD professor of physics, along with the other scientists working on the world's longest-distance neutrino experiment, announced in February that they have seen their first neutrinos.
• The UMD Theatre production, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, was one of only five productions selected to compete in the six-state Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival regional competition in Lincoln, Nebraska.
• A year of great artistic and academic success in the School of Fine Arts with the largest group of students honored for being on the Dean's list six or more semesters in their academic careers.
• We hosted the Sieur Du Luht Creativity Conference, a series of interdisciplinary lectures and discussions involving faculty, staff, students, community members and invited guests.
• The College of Liberal Arts launched the Cultural Entrepreneurship degree and hosted a lecture series organized by Dr. Scott Vollum on the topic of the death penalty in America. This series brought together students, faculty and members of the Duluth community and culminated in this year's Overman Lecture.
• Students in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics manage the Bulldog Fund, which is at the heart of our Financial Markets program. This year, the Bulldog Fund exceeded $1 million for the first time in its history.
• The Center for Economic Development and Northeast regional office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network at UMD was named the Minnesota SBDC Center of Excellence of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
• In the College of Education and Human Service Professions, Psychology professor Aydin Durgunoglu received the system wide 2013 Award for Global Engagement for her work on adult literacy in Turkey.
• The College also began a new bachelor program in Social Work and a new master program in Psychological Sciences.
• We survived a pretty brutal winter! Facilities Management crews successfully supported campus operations by responding to 3 water main breaks, 12 frozen heating coils, 2 power outages, and the third most snowfall on record. Not to mention that we had more snow days and late starts than anyone can remember.
• We continued to take our sustainability efforts to the next level. We now have a charging station for electric vehicles, 36 water bottle filling stations, and a wind turbine at the Farm; supporting energy conservation by upgrading boiler controls, installing LED lights throughout campus, and replacing building control systems; and building a pedestrian/bike path to Woodland Avenue to better connect the campus and community.
• Incorporated local produce from the UMD Farm and local farms in Dining Services.
• The Dining Center went Trayless last summer, which led to waste being down by 4.5 percent as of February and water consumption down by 10 percent. That translates into more than $54,000 in savings.
• Launched Champ's Cupboard food shelf for students, and the UMD community has donated over 2,000 items since it began.
• UMD became an anchor tenant for a regional fiber optic hub established by the Northeast Service Cooperative. We now have five active learning classrooms with three more planned to be constructed this summer.
• Broadened campus involvement in creating an open, transparent environment through the implementation of the new Shared Governance process.
• Completed the campus master plan.
• Received ranking as one of the top 25 GLBT-friendly colleges in the country.
• In Alumni Relations, made contacts at events across the country and reached more than 30,000 alumni with a monthly electronic newsletter and through enhanced social media contact.
• So far, the Development Office has raised $6.7 million in new gifts and commitments for this fiscal year, with most of the gifts designated to specific departments, programs or scholarships. There is at least one very large gift that should be finalized before the end of the fiscal year. We will announce it as soon as the gift is official.
• By the end of June, 72 faculty and staff will have participated in the Intercultural Leadership Development training.
• The Swenson College of Science and Engineering Unit Change Team developed a free online course Math Prep to help prepare under represented students entering the STEM fields.
• UMD hosted the system wide Annual Summit on Equity, Diversity and Multiculturalism in February.
• Celebrated football Coach Curt Weise being named as the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year for Division II, with $50,000 distributed to local charities and to the Alumni Relations office.
• We had a banner year in athletic achievements, and about 400 student athletes achieved an average GPA of 3.1 or higher. We had three student athletes receive the Myles Brand award for a GPA of 3.75 or higher, and the women's basketball team won the Chancellor Cup for their combined GPA of 3.55.
• Revamped the UMD homepage and began navigating the campus website with the new UMD mobile app.
• The Learning Commons opened in the library, and the Supportive Services Program Tutoring Center was recognized in March as the outstanding program of the year at the national conference of the Association for the Tutoring Profession.
• Celebrated many successes at events throughout the year, from the Multicultural awards, to the faculty, staff and student awards to the Athletic Hall of Fame and the Academy of Science and Engineering in the Swenson College.
• Recognized the 10th anniversary of the College of Pharmacy Program at UMD.
• Learned that UMD has one of the best lifetime returns on investment, with AffordableCollegesOnline finding that UMD grads are among the most likely to have the largest earnings potential when compared to those who do not have college degree, and that UMD graduates earn more on average than graduates from many other peer schools.
• A UMD education is about much more than earning money. We prepare our students for life-long careers and fulfilling lives. At the same time, it's good to see data that attests to the economic value of a UMD education. We are more expensive than our primary competitors, and we need to narrow that gap. But the value of an UMD education in all respects is well worth the cost.
• This academic year UMD released its first ever completely online Bridge magazine. It resulted in 1) more than three times the amount of content including enhanced multimedia features, 2) a distribution to thousands more people than the previous printed issue, and 3) saved more than $20,000 in printing and postage costs.
Meanwhile, as we all know, we worked hard on solving budget challenges at UMD. Pending final approval from the Board of Regents, we are optimistic that UMD will be in a much improved financial position next fiscal year. As a result of the program prioritization initiatives, voluntary layoffs, new revenue generation, and a larger allocation of state funds from the University of Minnesota system, our structural and recurring deficit will hopefully be reduced to approximately $5.5 million, and our non-recurring $3.9 million deficit for fiscal year 2014 will be eliminated.
In very simple terms, President Eric Kaler's proposed allocation of recurring operations and maintenance funds for UMD will increase over $4.1 million, or 13.2 percent over fiscal year 2014. Of that amount, almost $3 million is an expected increase as part of the biennial budget approved last year by the state Legislature and Governor Dayton that allows UMD to continue to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition. The remaining $1.2 million is a recurring budget increase for UMD from the University of Minnesota system. That means state funding will contribute 26 percent of UMD's O&M budget, an increase of 3 percent over last fiscal year. We have reversed the trend of declining state support for UMD, and we will see additional new revenue through the MnDrive research initiative and through new capital projects. (At present $1.5 for CSAM design and $42.5 University-wide HEAPR)
I want to thank the entire campus community for coming together to find creative ways to operate more efficiently. This has not been easy, and we still have hard work ahead. We continue to work on implementing the suggestions from the Program Prioritization process and look for additional revenue sources. We will continue to work closely with the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee to determine how we will solve the remaining structural budget, and we will set a goal of resolving this issue over the next three years.
As you can see from my list of accomplishments, we are doing amazing things at UMD and are transforming this institution to be a premiere comprehensive university for the 21st Century. Now that the budget challenge is at a more manageable lever, we need to turn our focus to what is on the other side of solving these financial challenges. We need to further clarify UMD's distinctive mission and vision and find the strategic investments that will help us reach our goals. As you can see, we have the full support of President Kaler, his administrative team, and the Board of Regents.
Enrollment projections for this fall are strong, and for the second year in a row we will see a significant increase in the numbers of new students coming to UMD. I hope that you will join me in sharing with prospective students the good news about UMD and encourage them to join our community.
Thank you again for all the amazing work you do and have a wonderful summer!
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.
Posted on February 27, 2012 2:45 PM
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!"