It's wonderful to see the students back on campus for the first day of fall semester, 2006. Over the summer, the Parent Program--along with the Office for Student Affairs--moved from Morrill Hall, the Twin Cities campus's administration building, to Appleby Hall, a classroom building. Already it feels like we are much closer to the student experience in our new home.
Parents Weekend preparations are underway, and I'm receiving lots of registrations and orders for football and volleyball tickets, which I'm processing as quickly as I can. Check your University Parent newsletter or the Parent Program website's events page for the most current information about the weekend. If you have any questions about registration or the activities planned, don't hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-624-6327.
This morning President Bruininks welcomed students, faculty and staff back to campus with an e-mail about the transformation he's leading the University through--I don't see why we shouldn't share it with parents as well:
Dear University students, faculty, and staff:
Itâ€™s great to welcome you back to campus and to greet those of you arriving for the first time! As I indicated in a mailing last spring, weâ€™re transforming the University to provide an extraordinary education for every student and to address some of the greatest challenges in our world. That work has continued apace over the summer, and we are seeing remarkable achievements and potential for the future.
We have combined six colleges in order to establish three new ones on the Twin Cities campus. The new College of Design (CDes), College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), and College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) will create academic synergies that allow them to provide extraordinary education for our students and address some of the greatest challenges in the world.
It has been gratifying to see the dedication of faculty and staff in these newly created colleges. They deserve our appreciation and thanks for their perseverance in the face of significant change. And early signs are promising: our preliminary enrollment numbers show student interest levels that exceed our expectations in areas ranging from design to family social science to environmental sciences, policy and management.
In addition, planning is underway for:
*continued student improvements, including a broad-based undergraduate honors program, a system-wide writing initiative for undergraduates to be offered beginning fall 2007, and a new combined writing department on the Twin Cities campus;
*new interdisciplinary organizations such as the Institute on the Environment, which will coordinate and strengthen the impressive environmental expertise we have across all of our campuses and outreach and research facilities (Our thriving Institute for Advanced Study, housed in Nolte Center, is already connecting scholars from the arts, humanities, and social sciences.);
*ways to create a â€śstrong startâ€? and a greater sense of University citizenship for new employees, as exemplified by the revamped orientation for new faculty we held last month; and
*new administrative improvements, including advances in energy conservation and a one-stop online ticket shop that will allow users to buy tickets for most artistic, cultural and athletic events on the Twin Cities campus.
The above are all substantial initiatives we have undertaken to help propel the University of Minnesota toward becoming one of the top public research universities in the world, and you can read more about them on the Strategic Positioning Web site.
In the less tangible realm, our front line staff report an unprecedented level of pride among new students and their families-pride in the beauty of our campus, the quality of our student services, and the breadth of our academic opportunities. They should be proud to be part of this vibrant and diverse academic community, and I call on each of us to live up to their enthusiasm for the U!
Robert H. Bruininks
University of Minnesota