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Dean's Column (November 1, 2012)

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Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this fall, Senior Vice President Robert Jones, announced that he would be leaving the University to take a new position as president of the University of Albany in New York. As dean of Extension, I have reported to Dr. Jones in his role as senior vice president for academic administration. Through the years, Dr. Jones has been a steadfast ally and supporter of Extension. While I will miss his leadership, I am confident that the University of Albany will benefit from our loss.

With Dr. Jones' departure, President Kaler charged a task force to determine the direction for the units that reported to Dr. Jones in the Office for Academic Administration. I have been in conversation with the task force about Extension.

Today, President Kaler announced that the central task force recommendation is to eliminate the Office for Academic Administration, University of Minnesota System, and to realign the functions and reporting lines from that office with the administrative unit or college that most closely shares their mission and work. He has reviewed and accepted their recommendations.

I am pleased with the task force recommendation and the President's decision to have Extension report to the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. This reflects the positive changes we have made in Extension to enhance our research, scholarship and education to have a positive impact on outreach and engagement.

The report states, "Extension is fundamentally an academic function and alignment with other academic units through the provost is optimal. The task force notes that the role of Extension has changed significantly over the past fifteen years. These changes have been driven by the needs of our communities, evolving technologies, and resource constraints. Today, agricultural programming represents only 35 percent of Extension's portfolio while the remainder is increasingly comprised of contemporary strategies to address a complex range of community challenges." You can find the task force report on the President's website.

I will be working with Provost Karen Hanson over the coming months as we make this transition.

Bev Durgan

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