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Monday, November 20, 2017

Engagement Survey Response Rates and Gratitude

Dear colleagues,

Last month our campus participated in the University of Minnesota employee engagement survey. I want to thank those of you who took the time to complete the survey. UMD had an impressive overall survey response rate of 74%. That breaks down to a response rate of 67% from faculty and 78% from staff.  

Here is a breakdown of response rates by college/unit:
Chancellor’s Units: 88%
Student Life (VCSL): 83%
Finance and Operations (VCFO): 56%
Academic Affairs* (EVCAA): 75% (83% Staff 67% Faculty)
LSBE: 81% response (Staff: 87% Faculty 78%)
SCSE: 63% response (Staff: 79% Faculty 55%)
CLA: 75% response (Staff: 91% Faculty 73%)
CEHSP: 74% response (Staff: 78% Faculty 73%)
SFA: 64% response (Staff: 68% Faculty 62%)
(*Includes colleges)

This is an important measurement tool that provides critical feedback for UMD. I am very proud of the work that has occurred across campus as a result of previous survey results. Early next semester we will get the 2017 results. I look forward to continuing to work together to address the challenges and opportunities identified.

Thank you for sharing your valuable input.

Have a wonderful and safe long Thanksgiving weekend.


Lendley C. Black

Monday, October 23, 2017

Driven - The Campaign for the University of Minnesota Duluth

Dear Colleagues,

During homecoming last week, I felt tremendous pride and excitement about our students, our alumni, and our entire campus community. Not only was our campus filled with activity, but across Duluth you could see Bulldog pride on full display. I know it was a huge undertaking for faculty and staff, and I want to thank all of you involved in the planning and execution in what was an extremely successful homecoming celebration. Watch a short and touching homecoming video.

The week culminated Saturday evening as we formally launched the public phase of our capital campaign entitled Driven - The Campaign for the University of Minnesota Duluth. We are seeking the adventurous and the generous as we bring together support from our alumni, friends, and campus community to further help us fulfill our mission.

We are joining forces with our philanthropic partners and friends to raise $120 million and strengthen our role as the region's premier public research university. The campaign will focus on these four areas:

  • $42.5 million in student support
  • $27.5 million in experiential learning
  • $30 million in faculty & research
  • $20 million in outstanding facilities
I am pleased to share that we are well on our way, having raised $84,839,441 million or 71% of our goal thus far. Along with this, I am extremely pleased to announce that we have secured a generous gift from Kurt & Beth Heikkila to name our new building the Heikkila Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building.

Please take a minute to watch this inspiring Driven campaign video. You can also learn more about the campaign at d.umn.edu/give.

I'd like to thank the development team for their impressive work and leadership throughout this campaign, and I invite you to join us in this important effort.

Best wishes,

Lendley Black

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Update on Enrollment and Legislative Bonding Request

Good morning,

It is homecoming week, and campus is filled with activity. I hope you'll find time to experience a number of events. You can find more information on the homecoming website

I'm pleased to report that our fall 2017 total student headcount is 11,168. This is our largest campus enrollment since fall 2013. The official fall undergraduate enrollment headcount is 9,199, which is an increase of 1.6 percent from last fall and three percent from fall 2015. Thank you to everyone who contributed to creating a welcoming and supportive community for this new freshman class of 2,275, our largest freshman class since 2010.

Improving the success and persistence of our current students remains a priority and provides one of our best opportunities to stabilize and grow our undergraduate enrollment. I encourage everyone to consider actions at course, program, unit, and campus levels to further support student engagement and learning. Your SEM Subcommittee member can guide this conversation. It is always worth reminding ourselves that one of the strongest indicators of persistence is whether a student can identify a faculty or staff member who cares about their individual success. This is a role that all of us need to play.
Recruitment of our fall 2018 new students is already well underway. Today and Friday, the Office of Admissions will welcome 2,000 visitors for our annual Campus Preview event. This is a campus-wide effort to help prospective UMD Bulldogs learn more about the tremendous academic and co-curricular opportunities we offer at UMD. Please help welcome these visitors to campus and if you see anyone who looks lost, please help them find their way to the Kirby Ballroom.

Last week, the Board of Regents approved the University of Minnesota's 2018 legislative capital request . The emphasis this year is on asset preservation with a strategy to not ask for any new buildings, but to focus on renovating and preserving existing facilities. The request includes:
  • $200 million in HEAPR (Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement); targeted UMD facilities in this project request are Chemistry, Humanities, and Ward Wells Field House.
  • $10.5 million in Greater Minnesota Academic Renewal, which is a package for system campuses to renew existing space. The targeted project for UMD is AB Anderson.
  • $24 million for Pillsbury Hall on the Twin Cities campus.
  • $4 million for Glensheen, in the form of a challenge to match state funding with outside support. The Glensheen request was added at the last minute due to the critical state of the property and expressed interest from the legislature.
If you have questions about these items or any other matters, please do not hesitate to contact me or one of the Vice Chancellors. 

Happy homecoming! Go Dogs!

Lendley C. Black

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Supporting You In Your Work At UMD

Dear Colleagues,

Your feedback on your experience working at UMD is very important to me and our leadership team. The University will conduct its fourth employee engagement survey this fall and we will begin a new cycle of discussing the results and taking action based on our survey results. This year's survey will allow people who work in groups where five or more faculty or staff complete the survey to see their results, so more people will see survey results that reflect the environment within smaller departments.

Since the 2015 survey, our campus has made a number of changes to how we operate based on your feedback and responses. Individual units have implemented changes based on their specific responses. As a campus, our actions based on the survey results include:
  • Shared our employee engagement results more broadly
  • Implemented a new staff orientation
  • Hosted informal gatherings to bring faculty and staff together in order to foster better relationships within the campus and to enhance collaboration
  • Created a recognition program to acknowledge years of service and employee awards
  • Implemented unit level awards to recognize the hard work done by employees across campus

As we look around, there are many other efforts that support engagement every day that your direct manager or supervisor may share with you over the next few weeks.

When you take the survey, you'll find two open-ended questions at the end which are very helpful to me as a leader who may not be aware of your day-to-day work experiences. Open-ended responses are redacted by Korn Ferry Hay Group so no personally identifiable information is shared with me, but your responses provide important ideas for improvement within UMD. The questions are, "What is one thing that has been done to help you succeed within your department?" and "What one thing, if changed, would enable you to be more successful in your work?" If you prefer, you may pick a more general response from the drop-down menu which will still provide me with important information.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me, one of the Vice Chancellors or Karna Kurtz in HR/EOAA.


Lendley Black

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Update on Campus Budget & FY18 Allocation

Dear colleagues,

I hope your school year is off to a successful start. Like me, I'm sure your schedule has suddenly become very full. There is no shortage of activity around campus and taking a minute to slow down and enjoy it always helps remind me how important our work is. 

Last week, the Vice Chancellors and I met with the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee and my Senior Leadership Council to discuss our budget allocation and next steps. At the end of August, I received UMD's final budget allocation letter from President Kaler for the current 2017-18 fiscal year. With that information, I am providing an update on our budget projections.

Our campus made significant progress in addressing our budget deficit last year. We identified $2.3 million in recurring reductions that we are implementing this fiscal year. At the time, those budget reductions along with some one-time budget actions, would have brought our projected fiscal year 2017-18 (FY18) annual structural imbalance (recurring budget deficit) down to $1.3 million. From there, we looked at changes to the budget based on tuition, our budget request, state funding, U of M allocation, and expenses. 

This current fiscal year, our O&M (state) allocation has increased by almost $2 million which includes $878,000 in one-time funds for repairs and renovations. The recurring amount of $1.1 million will help fund two additional mental health counselors to provide critical support for our students. It will help fund a scholarship match and Federal Perkins Loan financial aid program. This funding will also provide nearly half a million dollars to address a portion of our structural imbalance and other increased costs. In addition, our positive enrollment growth and one percent tuition increase has resulted in nearly $1.7 million in additional resources. 

Another positive outcome of our budget allocation is we will be able to fund the Sports and Health Center renovation and enhancements. This funding comes through a mix of state-allocated HEAPR funding, one-time U of M funds, private gifts, and UMD. That project will go to bid this fall with work scheduled to begin during spring break in March. 

However, instead of ending FY18 with a $1.3 million structural deficit, the actual year-end deficit will be closer to $3.2 million. The reasons for this higher than anticipated deficit are FY18 merit pay, increased fringe benefit costs, growth in the cost pool, and lower than anticipated state allocation. Our projected structural imbalance at the end of fiscal year 2016-17 was $4 million, and we are still making progress by reducing that recurring deficit to $3.2 million. However, increased costs have kept us from making as much progress on the deficit as we anticipated. You can read the complete FY18 UMD budget allocation letter. 

Adding this additional $3.2 million annual shortfall to the FY18 sequestered deficit (cash balance deficit) means that the projected sequestered deficit will be almost $11 million by June 30, 2018

This leaves us in a difficult situation and I'm sure that it is as frustrating for you, as it is for me, to not see more progress being made on reducing our deficit. The U of M System did recognize the reductions we made, and we will continue to work with President Kaler and his team at resolving the structural imbalance and sequestered deficit. We will continue to be advocates for UMD, ask tough questions, drive innovative solutions, and work to ensure as minimal negative impact on our students as possible.  

The next step in the process is for Vice Chancellor Steve Keto to model an updated budget resolution plan. Then we will provide more information on our timeline to balance our deficit, targeted reduction amounts, and begin work at identifying savings to be implemented in fiscal year 2019. 

Thank you for your commitment to UMD. Please feel free to contact me or any of the Vice Chancellors if you have questions. 


Lendley Black

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Statement from Chancellor Black re: DACA Decision

Dear Students, Faculty & Staff:

You should have received the message "The DACA decision and the University's stance" from University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler. I want to reiterate what President Kaler has said and express my disappointment in the Trump administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program.

I have joined other Chancellors and Presidents across the country in expressing the importance of this program, including having signed on to the American Council on Education's letter of support.

I believe in the DACA program and I believe that these students, the Dreamers, bring tremendous value to our universities and communities. I am concerned for the individuals currently in the program and want to reiterate that UMD will do everything we can within the law to continue to provide support and an education to these students.

Students seeking support or more information should contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion or Susana Pelayo-Woodward at swoodwar@d.umn.edu.


Lendley Black

Friday, September 1, 2017

Start of the Fall Semester Update

Dear UMD Parents and Family Members

By now your UMD Bulldog has arrived on campus, participated in Bulldog Welcome Week, and is settling into their first week of classes. We hope that your move-in experience on campus was a great one! Every year I'm appreciative of how well campus activities for move-in are organized, and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to interact with new students and their families. I also appreciate the many UMD returning students who help new students unload their vehicles, move their valuable possessions into their new UMD living spaces, and welcome new students with positive signs and cheers on the streets around campus.

I also want to acknowledge an aspect of move-in Tuesday that was problematic. Off campus, a much fewer number of UMD students created a host of disturbances and problems in the surrounding neighborhoods. You may have driven by some of the parties and observed sexist and offensive signs. I want you to know that those behaviors are unacceptable to me and I recognize that the partying and signs are completely inconsistent with a positive, inclusive campus.

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents Student Conduct Code limits our ability to respond to off-campus behavior. Our response is limited to conduct that is against the law, and every student that was ticketed or arrested by the police on Tuesday will also be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Given the limitations for addressing off-campus behavior, we've tried a number of strategies to encourage students to make different choices. I pledge to you that we're going to explore new ways of working with our students to help them learn about their responsibilities as members of the Duluth community. As you have the opportunity, I encourage you to talk with your student about this topic. As I wrote to you in my email this summer, we know that parents are great partners in our students' UMD journey.

Since I last wrote, Student Life has launched a Parents and Family webpage as part of their redesigned website. I hope you'll find it useful!

Best wishes to your student as they start their academic career at UMD, and also to you as you begin your journey as a Bulldog parent or family member!

Lendley C. BlackChancellor