We officially welcomed President Kaler as the 16th President of the University of Minnesota last week. If you had a chance to watch or read his inaugural address, you know he spoke plainly about the need for the university to change in order to "to meet the global needs of the 21st century." (If you didn't have a chance to see the President's speech, you can do so here.)
President Kaler saw the University's change in leadership as "a moment for us all to step back and ask: What are the potentials? How could this place move [forward]?"
He acknowledged that our work and research drive the university, but added: "If your research is stale, if your classroom is boring, if your community engagement is ineffective, you must reinvent yourself or, frankly, step aside."
And he encouraged each one of us to "pick up the pace" and "join the effort" to "move forward" as a University and "tell our story" about the important work that we do.
President Kaler's words reinforce much of the work we're already doing at the College of Design. I think the strategic planning we have undertaken will help us "pick up the pace" and "tell our story" and help us expand our partnerships with other colleges and funders in new and transformational ways, something the President also discussed in his speech.
We may be one of the most comprehensive design schools in the country, but we cannot rest on that alone. We must be able and willing to adjust our course when necessary in response to the changing needs of society, or, as President Kaler noted, "we will wither as a university." I look forward to working with you in realizing our new president's vision and the vision that has emerged from your strategic plans.