I spent much of last week and this weekend with administrators from architecture, design, and fine arts programs from across the country at a conference entitled Economies. We looked at a range of challenges and opportunities facing higher education in this difficult economic climate. As we know from the dramatic changes that occurred in our fields during and after the Great Depression, prolonged downturns enable us to rethink what we are doing and where we want to go. If we can handle the anxiety that comes with a poor economy, the creativity and ingenuity that arises during such periods can transform institutions, professions, and environments.
President Bruininks's message to us last week reflects that. He has charged three University-level steering committees to look at the scope and mission of the institution, opportunities for cost efficiencies across all units, and ways that we can enhance and diversify our revenue. Those same issues -- reexamining mission, reducing costs, and growing revenue -- came up time and again in my discussion with deans from other universities, so we are in good company.
I hope that our college's Blue Ribbon Committee, like those in other colleges, can contribute content to those steering-committee efforts, for we can't know what to cut or where to grow without first knowing where we want to go in the future. For that, we need your creativity and ingenuity, so do share any ideas you might have with me or one of the committee members.