Monday Minute, July 13, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

During my vacation last week, I went to a retreat at Philip Johnson's glass house in New Canaan, Connecticut, to participate in a panel discussion on public-interest design, moderated by Maurice Cox, Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts. The mostly professional audience enthusiastically supported the idea of our disciplines taking on the public good, globally, as a central part of our mission, and several people mentioned to me that the work we are doing here, at Minnesota, makes us one of the more active colleges in this area. Sitting there at Johnson's glass house, an icon of mid-20th Century Modernism, you could feel how different the 21st Century will be.

I felt that same sense of a paradigm shift today, at a retreat that the deans had with the president and provost to discuss a preliminary draft of a report that examined alternative ways of financing the University in the future. While we will all hear much more about this in coming months, the over-riding message was that the University would never again receive its primary funding from the state. That will demand that each college take responsibility for its own future and think about itself in more entrepreneurial and global ways than in the past, aligning with what I heard at Johnson's glass house. Public education, like the public interest, has become a fascinating design problem, and we have much to contribute.