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Letter From the Director

By Albert R. Tims

The University of Minnesota is poised to embark on a bold new strategic plan for the coming decade. President Robert Bruininks' ultimate goal is to propel the University into the ranks of the top three research universities in the world.

Albert R. TimsWhile the U already enjoys an international reputation as a top public research university, the Strategic Positioning Report endorsed by the Board of Regents in March of 2005 outlines a process designed to identify new structural and administrative efficiencies, align resources and budgets, increase investment in areas that best advance excellence and provide comparative advantage, improve leadership and collaboration, rationalize academic programs in ways that create opportunities to enhance or establish world-class recognition, and build a culture of best practices throughout the institution.

In the coming year, the SJMC will be looking carefully at what we ourselves do well and how we can do even better. Our benchmarks for success can be nothing less than the very best student experience, the very best faculty, and the very best research and scholarship. We can anticipate that the university will develop priorities for investment based on centrality to mission, quality, productivity and impact. Our challenge is to demonstrate the quality, importance, and vitality of our program and to articulate both a vision and a plan to ensure that what we do is the "gold standard" for schools of journalism and mass communication. I'm confident that we'll succeed.

In addition to the reviews we'll undertake as part of the U's strategic planning process, this summer we'll begin a year-long self-study that precedes and informs our next ACEJMC accreditation review. The external review team appointed by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication will visit campus during the 2006-07 academic year. The accrediting review process is one of the most useful and credible ways we have to identify areas for improvement and assess our resource allocation and measure achievement.

Along those lines, in this issue of the Murphy Reporter you'll find a wonderful feature story about the unique nature of the SJMC undergraduate experience these days. We're doing more than ever before to use the community as a teaching laboratory and to encourage our students to develop second majors and minor concentrations. Along with many other achievements by our undergraduates, you'll read about the success of three young alumni, all winners of the American Advertising Federation's "Most Promising Minority Student" honor (Jason Reed '02, Toni Thompson '04, and Gloria Delgadillo '05). This is a tradition we have certainly hope to sustain in the years ahead.

I do hope you'll find occasion to read the piece on page 6 about the exciting research and scholarship related to health communication which several of our faculty are doing. This is some of the most important and exciting work being done in our field today.

In closing, I want to make special mention of the passing of Professor Robert Jones. As many of you know, Bob served as director of the school for two decades, from 1958 through 1978. Bob served as wise and supportive counsel to me on numerous occasions. He loved the SJMC and the University Minnesota with all his heart and was as true a friend as we'll ever have.

I welcome your comments--please stay in touch.

All the best,

Albert R. Tims