Monday Minute, March 28, 2011

Dear colleagues,

Here is the link to the final version of our college's compact, which we submitted over a week ago and which we will discuss with the provost's office this coming Friday morning. (This document is x.500 password protected and only accessible to University of Minnesota faculty and staff.)

I appreciate the work that many people put into preparing and editing this document and I think it concisely conveys our priorities of continuing to support our core mission and infrastructure, while investing in areas that promise to expand our national and international visibility, to grow the range and diversity of our students, and to augment our ability to attract funding from a wide number of sources. At the same time, the compact restates our goals of having a one-campus location and our doubling of student support in the coming years, which will enhance the cohesiveness of our college and the affordability of the education we provide.

Speaking of cohesiveness, I gave a talk this weekend in Chicago at a conference entitled Structures for Inclusion, which brought together groups working on humanitarian design efforts in places ranging from New Orleans and Biloxi to Haiti and Tanzania. Minnesota had a sizable showing of current and former students in the audience and, as one attendee at the conference observed, our college seems to encourage students to work in ways that benefit of a wide range of people. I think we do, but hearing such comments and seeing so many of our students and alumni there made me wonder if we do enough to articulate this aspect of our culture.

The quote by Friedrich Nietzsche in today's Star Tribune reinforced that for me. Nietzsche asked: "What is originality? To see something that has no name as yet and hence cannot be mentioned although it stares us all in the face. The way men (sic) usually are, it takes a name to make something visible for them." We have great stores of originality among the faculty, staff, and students in our college, and there may be no better demonstration of that than in naming the sense of humanity that has no name and yet stares us all in the face.