Monday Minute, August 30, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

What are you trying to change through your work?

This is a question that several Twin Cities deans formulated at the end of our meeting last week. Our focus initially was the international work going on across the University. That discussion coincides with the effort within our college to build a list of the overseas efforts you may be involved in, which I planned to share with our college advisory board at its upcoming meeting in China.

As we do, the University wants to understand and highlight the international reach and impact of the faculty, and it has begun to develop a web-based database of such work by country and theme. I will make sure our list gets incorporated into the University's database, so that we can better represent to the world the remarkable international work that many of you do.

This led to a discussion at the same meeting about the larger problem of the University not having an easy way of gathering information about the work of our faculty in general. Too often the assumption gets made that health-related work occurs in the Academic Health Center, technology-related work in the College of Science and Engineering (formerly Institute of Technology), and so, when in fact, research in any number of areas often crosses collegiate boundaries and can get overlooked if not in the expected place.

The meeting ended with a request of each dean to ask of everyone in his or her college one question -- What are you trying to change through your work? The idea is to get to the intentions behind our work.

So, think about that question and I will let you know how the University wants us to gather our answers. If nothing else, it seems like a good question for all of us to ask of ourselves periodically and a good reminder of why most of us come to work everyday.