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Friday, December 18, 2015

End of Semester Thank You!

Dear Campus Community:

On behalf of Chancellor Black, many thanks to those who were able to join us at the End of Semester Buffet.  Again this year, you were generous in your donations at this celebration and community fund raiser. You contributed $726.17 to the Union Gospel Mission, 266 pounds of food to Champ's Cupboard and 265 pounds of food to the CHUM Food Shelf. 

Thank you so much for your generosity. Have a wonderful end of semester.


Chancellor's Office and Dining Services

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chancellor Black's Message to the Campus

Dear Campus Community:

I hope you are having a good finals week and looking forward to a well-deserved break.  There are a few information items I wish to share with you as we wrap up the fall semester and look forward to next semester.  

I am making good progress identifying an interim Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and hope to have someone in place by the first of February.  I appreciate the feedback and suggestions I received about the interim appointment.  Based upon those comments and conversations I have had with the vice chancellors, deans, and the Faculty Council, I have decided to use the Registry, a national organization that identifies experienced senior leaders to serve interim appointments like ours.  I will seek someone who has the experiences and skills to address our specific UMD needs.  Since the promotion and tenure recommendations are due from the EVCAA by February 8. I have asked Dr. Andrea Schokker to complete those recommendations before she leaves her position.  I am also initiating a national search for a new EVCAA.  During the first week in January, I will send you additional information about the interim appointment and the search process.

You will see two lists of questions for faculty and staff related to our need to have robust discussions about UMD's strategic priorities and how to best position our campus for the future.  The faculty questions will be the main topic of conversation at a faculty town hall meeting January 14 from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. in the Kirby Ballroom and the staff questions will be discussed at a staff town hall meeting on January 21 from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. in the Kirby Ballroom.  These questions were developed with the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee. We need a clear sense of how we will move forward and whether or not our current administrative and academic structures best support our strengths and opportunities.  Prior to the town hall meetings, I will send additional information about possible models for us to consider and additional information about the UMD budget. 

A separate set of questions was developed and shared with the UMD Student Association. I look forward to receiving their input in this important conversation, too.

Finally, I wish you the best during the semester break.  Unfortunately, I have to fly to Boston for a family funeral and will not be able to join you Thursday at the End of Semester Buffet.  I hope you will attend and take advantage of this opportunity to visit with colleagues across campus and have valuable social time together.  Thank you for all you do to make UMD an outstanding educational institution.  I especially appreciate the great work you do for our students.  I've had a number of meetings with students recently and they always impress me.   

Best wishes to you all!


Lendley C. Black

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Message from Chancellor Black regarding EVCAA transition

Dear Campus Community:

As you know, Andrea Schokker submitted her resignation as Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs to me on Monday.  I wish to thank Andrea again for her service to UMD and for the many things she accomplished as Vice Chancellor.  She will continue to be an important part of our university community as a faculty member and researcher, and I wish her the very best.

I am moving forward quickly to identify an interim replacement for Andrea, and I will soon begin the process of conducting a national search for a new EVCAA.  My first priority is to find an interim who is a seasoned, academic administrator, and who can bring an experienced perspective to both the opportunities and challenges we face.  While my intent is to seek an external person, I will also consider a local interim appointment.

As we move forward and focus on clarifying UMD's strengths and opportunities, I am continuing to work with the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee on a series of meetings with students, faculty, and staff at the beginning of next semester. More information about this process will be sent to you next week.

Meanwhile, I hope we will focus on how to move forward in a productive and collaborative manner.  We need to find better ways to have constructive conversations and keep professional disagreements from becoming personal, and resulting in hurtful behaviors.

Please let me know if you have comments or would like additional information.


Lendley C. Black

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chancellor's Message to the Campus

Dear students, staff, and faculty,

Like many of you, I have been moved and concerned by the acts of racism and senseless violence of the last several weeks happening around us in the world, across our nation, and close to home.  As a UMD community and as individuals, we are all impacted by these events.  There is undoubtedly a mix of emotions, fears, and opinions.

We are well aware that our community is not immune to the disparities, prejudice, and behavior that fuel these matters.  Here at UMD, Goal 2 is a core component of our Strategic Plan.  It states our desire to "create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity, and social justice."  We have made good progress at integrating Goal 2 into our actions and activities.

Yet, we need to recognize and to support historically marginalized members of our community who still seek justice, or even feel threatened, right now. We must realize that we have a long way to go to reach the ambitious goal of a universally inclusive campus community.  Meaningful diversity work requires both community and individual commitments to change, and it requires us all to honestly self-reflect on our own prejudices and shortcomings. We should also be aware of where we are on our journey of understanding and support each other. Each of us should seek actions that we can take to respond to injustice and to make UMD a welcoming place for all.

I am writing you today to ask that we encourage healthy dialogue, that we listen to multiple perspectives, and that we continue to demonstrate our core values and commitment to inclusive excellence.  Universities are exactly where we should have these types of conversations.
We have a number of upcoming events that can help us, including this Wednesday, December 2 at 5 p.m. in Kirby Ballroom where Duke Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva is presenting "Color Blind Racism: Racism Without Racists."

As well, anyone who has experienced racial or other types of discrimination are encouraged to file an incident report with Office of Student Conduct or the Office of Human Resource and Equal Opportunity.

The path to ensuring an inclusive, respectful, and supportive environment starts with me and with all of us.  We need to continue our commitment to equity, diversity, and social justice.  We need to continue to encourage open dialogue and learn from each other.  We need to continue to assess our campus climate and take action to strengthen it.

I ask you to join me and the Campus Climate Leadership Team on this journey.


Lendley Black, Chancellor

Campus Climate Leadership Team

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thank you for your survey participation

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you so much to everyone who took time to complete this year's E2 Employee Engagement Survey and the Campus Climate Survey.  Overall, we had a good response rate for both of these very important surveys.  I am confident that through your feedback we have gathered a wealth of useful information, which we can apply to enhance the living, learning, and working environment here at UMD.   

Response rates for the Employee Engagement Survey:

UMD Overall Response: Employee Engagement
UMD Faculty
UMD Staff

Response rates for the Campus Climate Survey:

UMD Overall Response: Campus Climate
Undergraduate Student
Graduate Student
Professional Student
Faculty (medical and pharmacy)

The leadership team and I appreciate those who provided feedback. We look forward to engaging the campus community to review the results and work together to develop and execute action plans.  The results of the Engagement Survey will be shared with campus early in 2016.  The results of the Climate Survey will take longer due to timelines with our vendor and summer schedules.  Those results will be shared with campus in Fall 2016.  

Your contributions to UMD are vital, and we look forward to working together to continue developing a campus where people are connected, welcomed, and feel supported in their success.

Thank you again for your cooperation and participation in the survey.


Lendley C. Black

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Save the Date - End of Semester Buffet - Thursday, December 17

Dear Campus Community:

The Chancellor's Office and Dining Services invite all UMD faculty and staff to the End of Semester Buffet featuring an Italian theme on Thursday, December 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Kirby Ballroom and Kirby Rafters.  Due to space limitations, no students, please.
We are requesting voluntary donations of non-perishable food items for donation to CHUM's Food Shelf or UMD Champ's Cupboard, or cash donations for the Union Gospel Mission.

Food Shelf and Champ's Cupboard Needs:
(All items in non-perishable & store bought, non-expired form.)
Fruit - Applesauce, fruit cocktail, pineapple, pears, peaches, mandarin oranges, dried fruit. 
Dry Breakfast Cereal and Oatmeal Packets.
Mac & Cheese and "Just add Water Meals" (Pasta-Roni, Rice-a-Roni, Bear Creek Soups, Idaho Mashed Potato Mix) 
Ethnic Foods 
Hamburger Helper (and Chicken Helper and Tuna Helper) 
Dry Pasta, Rice and Pasta Sauce 
Lighter meals/snacks: Granola bars, trail mix 
Peanut Butter 
Chunky Soups 
Canned Vegetables
Ramen Noodles
Spaghettios, Chili, Stew 
Laundry Detergent & Home Cleaning Products 
Toiletries such as Toothpaste & Deodorant. 

  Please join us to celebrate another successful year!

Chancellor's Office
University of Minnesota Duluth
515 Darland Administration Building
1049 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812
218.726.6535 (fax)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Town Hall Meeting - Wednesday, November 4

Dear Campus Community,

Please join me on Wednesday, November 4 from 3:00 -  4:30 p.m. in the Kirby Ballroom for a special Town Hall Meeting with UMD faculty and staff.

Instead of the traditional update, I am asking the campus community to actively participate in a discussion about student success and r etention. As I shared in my recent Chancellor's Update , our enrollment is down slightly. Retention and graduation rates are critically important to our enrollment story, and we all play a role in creating a campus environment where students thrive both in and out of the classroom. We will spend time working together to brainstorm ideas and help develop retention action items to help our students continue their education a t UMD. Members of the Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) subcommittee will share insights in order to guide our conversation.

If you are unable to attend the Town Hall Meeting, please review the information available on theSEM retention framework website and email your suggestions on best ways to retain our students to the SEM subcommittee (umdsem@d.umn.edu), and we will add them to the collected information. Thank you, and I hope to see you on November 4.


Lendley C. Black

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chancellor's Update - October 21, 2015

Good afternoon,

I hope you all have been able to get out and enjoy this beautiful fall weather.  This semester sure seems to be flying by quickly.  Chief Development Officer Tricia Bunten and I were out last week visiting with donors and will be back on the road next week doing the same.  It is great to be able to share the impressive work of our campus community with supporters and hear their memories as well.  

We have had a busy year thus far and while I could write about many things, I am going to focus in and provide an update on a few topics including budget, campus surveys, enrollment, and our upcoming campus town hall meeting.  

Budget Update
We have received our final budget allocation, and it was consistent with our preliminary numbers.  Our new Vice Chancellor of Finance and Operations Steve Keto has been with us for a few weeks now.  By the end of the semester we will have a specific plan for resolving the budget deficit and moving forward in a strategic and productive way. Please be assured, the campus community will be involved in that process.

Campus Surveys
We are currently in the middle of two very important surveys for our campus community.  Please find time in your workday to complete these two surveys.  Your input is valuable and appreciated.   
  1. The  Campus Climate Survey is open to all students, faculty, and staff.  This survey will help to measure and identify opportunity to further our goal of maintaining a positive and inclusive campus climate.  Complete the anonymous  Campus Climate Survey.  
  2. The Engagement survey is open to all faculty and staff.  This survey will help measure your perspective on the workplace environment.  Look back in your email for your unique link to the confidential survey.

Across the University of Minnesota system, total headcount enrollment is down by 1.2% compared to Fall 2014.  While we met our overall enrollment target, it's important to remember enrollments strategy is not just about quantity it is about finding the right student who will be successful here at UMD.  As predicted, primarily due to the decrease in high school graduates, our overall enrollment is down slightly.  Total headcount for Fall 2015 is 10,878 which compares to 11,093 in Fall 2014.  We are up slightly in new transfer numbers, and down in new freshman with a total of 1,997 new freshman this fall.  SCSE has reached an all-time high with a total of 3,098 undergraduates.  LSBE also saw an overall increase in enrollment this fall with 2,040 undergraduate students.  See the full UM enrollment presentation  from the recent Board of Regents meeting.  

Town Hall - November 4
Speaking of enrollment, I am excited to announce that we have an upcoming town hall meeting where I am going to ask the campus community to actively participate in a discussion about retention.  Retention and graduation rates are critically important to our enrollment story and we all play a role in retention.  Please mark your calendars for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4 in the Kirby Ballroom.  We will spend time working together to come up with ideas and develop actions to help our campus retention efforts.  

I also want to share with you that we are welcoming University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler to campus this Friday.  He has a full schedule and will be starting his visit up on the Iron Range before spending the afternoon on campus touring our newly renovated Kirby Student Center, our legislative bonding requests, visiting an active classroom, and enjoying some time in the MMAD Lab.  He will also meet with students, the Duluth News Tribune editorial board, and host a legislative dinner at Glensheen.  President Kaler will also meet with alumni and donors for breakfast and join us at the football game Saturday.  This is a great opportunity for us to showcase UMD and highlight some of what makes our campus so unique and special.  

As always, please contact me or a member of my senior leadership council if you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions about these topics or other campus matters.   Have a great rest of your week.  


Lendley Black

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Campus Climate Survey

October 6, 2015

Dear UMD Community member,

At UMD, a welcoming and inclusive campus climate is embedded in Goal #2 of our strategic plan and is one of the foundations of our educational model.  Creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity and social justice is critically important for all of us.

I am asking our campus community to participate and take the Campus Climate Survey.  This survey of all students, staff and faculty will provide an Assessment of Learning, Living, and Working at The University of Minnesota Duluth. The goals of the project are:

1.      identify successful initiatives
2.      uncover any challenges facing members of our community
3.      develop strategic initiatives to build on the successes and address the challenges.

The survey is your opportunity to describe your personal experiences, your observations, and to offer suggestions for change that might enhance the campus climate at UMD.  This survey is part of our on-going Campus Climate initiative and will be used in conjunction with previous surveys to guide our continued efforts.

Be assured: All of your answers will remain confidential and the results will be reported in group form only. You will not be identifiable as an individual. Your participation in this project is voluntary. This research has been reviewed and approved by the UMD University Institutional Review Board. Additional information about the project is available at https://www.d.umn.edu/climatesurvey

Upon completion of the survey, you can enter to win great prizes such as a free parking pass or $100 Visa gift cards.  Your information and entrance for the prize drawings are not attached to your confidential survey responses. 

Please note that the Climate Survey is for all students, staff and faculty.  Next week, on October 12, our faculty and staff will also be asked to participate in an important workplace engagement survey.  Both of these surveys will provide valuable insight and your participation in each of them is greatly appreciated. 

I urge you to take 20-30 minutes and complete this very important Campus Climate Survey by going to https://rankinsurveys2.com/umd.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to this vital project.


Lendley (Lynn) Black, Chancellor

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Update on Search for Director of Alumni Relations

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to share an update on the search for a new Director of Alumni Relations.  This is an important leadership position on campus that works to engage our graduates and keep them connected with UMD throughout their lives.  After consulting with leadership at UMD and other universities, and after careful examination of alumni engagement, I am excited to share with you a new approach and structure for alumni relations.  To strengthen the connection from student to alumni, and further integrate alumni relations into the campus community, I have decided to realign the Alumni Relations Office from the Chancellor's Unit to Student Life.

The Director of Alumni Relations will report to Vice Chancellor of Student Life and Dean of Students Lisa Erwin.  I'm very excited about the opportunities that arise from this new structure, as are the Alumni Relations and Student Life staff.  The Alumni Director will serve as a member of Dr. Erwin's leadership team while continuing to have a close partnership with key partners such as university marketing and public relations, and the development team.  

Tricia Bunten will continue her role as Interim Alumni Director and will chair the search for the new Director.  We will be posting the job opening soon and are in in the process of inviting members of the campus and alumni community to be part of the search committee. 


Lendley C. Black

Friday, September 4, 2015

Chancellor's Update - September 4, 2015

Greetings and welcome to the start of a new academic year at UMD!

This is such an exciting time of year and I want to first thank all of you who were involved in the Bulldog Welcome Week activities and other events that helped get our new and returning students engaged.  Well done!  There is no shortage of action on campus this time of year.  Take a peek at the Welcome Week photo album to see some of the smiling faces.

One my goals for the year is to have more regular communication with faculty and staff. This is the first of what will be regular communication from me.  I welcome your thoughts and ideas on campus communication and the content of this newsletter.  I won't be able to cover everything here, but I will do my best to keep these messages pertinent and succinct.

Last week, our welcome meeting for faculty and staff started off with a bang - literally.  The UMD Marching Band got the meeting rolling with great energy and excitement.  These students are excellent musicians and I appreciate them using their rehearsal time to entertain us.  I also want to briefly recap my comments from the welcome speech.

We are proud of the many achievements at UMD.  Take a minute to look through the opening slideshow which featured a selection of our recent media coverage and points of pride.

I have heard your feedback, and as a result, I will focus on the following this next year:
  • Being more transparent
  • Providing clear direction and increased pace and clarity of decision making
  • Opening additional lines of communication
  • Being more visible to faculty and staff on campus

To help these priorities succeed, I have implemented some new structures.  The previous Chancellor's Cabinet had too much confusion and mystery surrounding it.  I have formed a new Chancellor's Senior Leadership Council which includes the previous cabinet members and expands to include the chairs of faculty and staff councils, a representative from the dean's council, the director of human resources and equal opportunity and the director of information technology systems and services.  As well, I will create meetings each semester with department heads and unit directors and will meet regularly with Faculty Council, Staff Council, and Student Association.

During the welcome speech, I discussed some of the major macro trends in higher education that are and will continue to impact us.  Those trends include state funding challenges, increased calls for accountability and performance-based funding, greater competition for students, new trends in  technology-enhanced instruction, sexual assaults on college campuses, and student loan debt.

This summer at the first meeting of the Chancellor's Senior Leadership Council, we focused our theme around academic excellence and student success.  The action items that we identified and continue to monitor circle around communication, budget, and morale and engagement.
Take a look at my communications archive to read my presentation notes from the meeting.

I closed my presentation with reflections about two theatre productions I saw in New York recently and how the themes and images from these Broadway shows relate to our campus climate successes and challenges.  We need to remember that we truly make a difference in the lives of our students, in others at UMD, and in our communities.  But we will not reach our full potential until we see beyond our differences, assume the sincerity of others, and respect the dignity of all people.

Next week Andrea Schokker and I will attend the Board of Regents meetings in the Twin Cities.  One of our meetings is with the system Capital Oversight Group to discuss UMD's facilities needs and projects in planning stages.  September will be a busy time for us to advocate for new capital projects at UMD.  The Senate bonding tour will be in Duluth September 15, The Minnesota Management and Budget's Northeast Minnesota bonding tour will visit UMD September 18, and the House Capital Investment Committee will be on campus September 22.  Our two main capital bonding priorities for the 2016 legislative session are the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science building and Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funds for building upgrades.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend,

Lendley C. Black

Friday, August 28, 2015

Interim Alumni Director

Dear Campus Community:

Lisa Pratt retired and her last day at UMD as Alumni Director was Friday, August 21. We greatly appreciate the work and dedication Lisa gave to this institution and to our alumni.  Our alumni are important and passionate ambassadors of UMD and it is very important that we continue to foster a strong relationship with them.

In the meantime, Chief Development Officer Tricia Bunten has agreed to take on an additional role as the Interim Alumni Director.  Tricia has worked very closely with Christiana Kapsner and Mollie Nelson from the alumni office, as well as having regular engagement with alumni.  I am very grateful that Tricia has agreed to step into this interim role to provide leadership and help ensure a smooth transition.  We will begin a search for a new alumni director this fall.  


Lendley Black


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Joint statement from Chancellor Lendley Black and Student Association President Nathan Ernst

Joint statement from Chancellor Lendley Black and Student Association President Nathan Ernst
August 26, 2015

The start of a new school year is always filled with excitement.  It is great to welcome so many new and returning students to our campus community.  Welcome Bulldogs! We want to sincerely thank everyone involved in making Bulldog Welcome Week memorable and successful.

However, we are disheartened by the actions of some of our students. It is important to note that while we support and respect the right to free speech, we do not condone the behaviors of those who chose to display vulgar signs to our incoming freshman and their families.  This kind of behavior is not welcome at UMD.  This kind of behavior does not represent our values or the kind of institution we are.  

Our UMD Strategic Plan Goal 2 states: "Create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity, and social justice." In keeping with Goal 2, we ask our students, faculty, and staff to be mindful of their actions at all times, and to act with respect and civility.  We ask all of you to help ensure that UMD continues to provide a safe and healthy environment that extends into our Duluth community.  


Chancellor Lendley Black
Nathan Ernst, Student Association President

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chancellor Black's Fall Welcome to Faculty and Staff

Chancellor’s Welcome
August 24, 2015

       I.         Points of Pride slide loop (click here) is being shown as people arrive – slides are a compilation of major achievements over the summer and the past several months. 

    II.            Welcome – Motivated and energetic welcome to UMD for the new faculty and staff and welcome back to the returning faculty and staff.  Marching Band plays, enters, and exits.  I move onto the stage.  “Thank you, Dan Eaton and the UMD Marching Band!”
a.     Welcome everyone and thank those who contributed to Champs Cupboard. If you did not bring items today and would still like to contribute, you can make contributions at the Student Life Office, 245 Kirby Plaza.
b.     Have new faculty and staff stand
c.      Reference note cards for questions

 III.            New faces at UMD
a.     VCFO: Steve Keto, Associate Vice Chancellor at North Carolina State University and oversees the Budget Office, Controller's Office, Office of Contracts and Grants, and Office of Cost Analysis. Steve will join us October 1
b.     HR/EO: Melissa Honkola, Assistant Human Resources Director, St. Louis County.  Melissa will join us August 31
c.      Alumni Relations update: Tricia Bunten, our Chief Development Officer, will take on the additional duties as interim director of Alumni Relations until a new director is identified, and the search for the new director will begin soon.

IV.            New Structures at UMD – We had a difficult year last year for a number of reasons, and I have received much feedback from you regarding things I could or should do differently.  Although I do not agree with some of the comments I’ve received, I do realize there are some things that need to change.  I understand the frustration and confusion some of you are experiencing, and I was already aware of most of the areas you identified as needing improvement.  As a result I am focused primarily on the following areas for this academic year:
a.     Being more transparent
b.     Providing clear direction, and increase the pace and clarity of decision making
c.      Opening additional lines of communication
d.     Being more visible to faculty and staff on campus.  This last one will be a challenge, since many of my job responsibilities are external and require me to be off campus.  However, I will make it a priority to be more visible on campus.
                                                             i.      Fund-raising for UMD is one of my areas of responsibility that takes me off campus regularly.  I’m pleased that our UMD development team has again exceeded its goal for fiscal year 2015.  Our goal was $10 million.  By the end of the fiscal year, we had raised $10.5 million and we were informed recently by the University of Minnesota Foundation that an additional $525,000 was given to UMD in an estate gift to endow scholarships for UMD students graduating from Duluth high schools.

   V.            Some of the actions related to my primary focus areas include:
a.     I am changing the Chancellor’s Cabinet structure and creating a Chancellor’s Senior Leadership Council.  There has been too much confusion and mystery about the cabinet.  We need a fresh start.  The new council will discuss major campus initiatives and issues and will provide an important additional communication link to the campus.  This Council, like the former Cabinet, will be advisory to me and the vice chancellors. I will continue to be the primary decision maker with close collaboration with the vice chancellors.  There are some decisions the vice chancellors make on their own, especially when the issue is primarily in their units.  But, like me, they depend on the advice of others and they join me in a commitment to greater transparency and communication.  Current Cabinet includes:
                                                             i.      3 Vice Chancellors
                                                           ii.      Chief of Staff
                                                        iii.      Chief Development Officer
                                                        iv.      Director of External Affairs
                                                           v.      Director of Athletics
                                                        vi.      Director of Alumni Relations
                                                      vii.      Two Faculty Fellows for Intercultural Initiatives and Strategic Planning
b.     I am adding the following positions to the current cabinet members:
                                                             i.      Chairs of the faculty and staff councils,
                                                           ii.      A representative from the deans council,
                                                        iii.      Director of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, and
                                                        iv.      Director of Information Technology Systems and Services.
c.      I will create meetings each semester with the department heads and unit directors to improve communication and transparency.
d.     Lynne Williams, our new Director of External Affairs, is off to a great start and will be assisting me closely with campus, as well as external communications.  We will be pushing out many more stories about the great things happening at UMD and solidifying relationships with legislators, and other external stakeholders.
e.      I will continue to work with faculty council, staff council, student association, and the University Coordinating Council to continue our improvement of campus governance, and I will regularly attend meetings of each of these groups.

VI.            Higher Education Macro Issues & Trends for 2015-2016
a.     There are many macro issues and trends at the national level in higher education, and here are some of those that were discussed this summer at meetings of the Presidents/Chancellors Councils of the Association of Public and Land- Grant Universities (APLU) and from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
                                                             i.      Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, Chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, met with the APLU presidents and chancellors in June and emphasized his focus on simplifying rules and regulations for higher education.  He also supports legislation from Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski, also a member of the HELP Committee, and others have proposed to help make higher education more affordable and allowing former students more attractive options to refinance student loan debt; Senator Alexander supports reducing the long FAFSA form to a postcard; his FAST Act (Financial Aid Simplification & Transparency) program would  simplify student grants and loans, the re-paying of those loans, and restoring year-round Pell grants; he is distressed about decreasing state support in higher education (In spite of our challenges, in Minnesota, we are the one of the lucky states that has seen continued investments in higher education.  No doubt, we would still like to see more state money coming to the University of Minnesota and to UMD.); We in higher education know we need to be regulated and held accountable, but the costs for “accountability” need to be reduced and the processes need to be streamlined, and I am supportive of the reforms Senator Alexander proposes.
                                                           ii.      Another topic we discussed this summer was the Higher Education Act Reauthorization – President Obama and his Department of Education has been calling for a rating system for higher education, which both APLU and AASCU oppose.  As proposed, the rating system is far too complicated and links ratings to things like net price, graduation rates, student loan default rates, percentages of low-income students enrolled, etc.  One problem is that the data to do what they want to do is not readily available in ways that make a true rating system feasible.  For now, this rating system has been placed on the back burner, which I see as good news. Some say the ratings proposal is dead.  We shall see.
                                                        iii.      Performance-based Funding/Accountability are topics that continue to gain traction and attention at the national and state levels, so part of our tasks as university leaders is to advocate for ways to meet the demands of performance-based funding and accountability and lessen the cost and burden these issues have on our campuses.  For example, earlier this month, I joined with presidents and chancellors across the country in signing a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan advocating for the use of the Student Achievement Measure in assessing graduation rates, instead of the more limited federal graduation rate calculations.  SAM uses data from the National Clearing House and is able to track the progress and completion of transfer students, part-time students, full-time students, and the outcomes of students who enroll in multiple institutions.
                                                        iv.      National and state concerns about Student Debt continue to increase.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has proposed lower interest rates on student loans and moving towards a debt-free undergraduate education.  Last year she proposed a bill which would allow students to pay the same interest rate on their government loans as big banks. She asks why student loans interest rates continue to climb and range from 2.25% to 9%, while banks can borrow from the Federal Reserve’s discount window at a rate of approximately .75 percent?  Federal student loan rate for 2015-2016 is 4.29% for undergraduates and 5.84% for graduate students.  So far, Senator Warren’s proposals have not been successful, but she is one of many federal legislators calling for significant reforms to address student debt.
                                                           v.      Technology-Enhanced Instruction was a major topic at both APLU and AASCU meetings. Three major topics included:
1.     Improving learning outcomes through technology-enhanced instruction,
2.     Using technology-enhanced instruction to design and implement new learning experiences based upon learning science, and
3.     Promoting dissemination and sharing of information globally.
4.     There is great interest among some current BOR members in MN about making greater use of online and other types of technology-enhanced instruction.
5.     I applaud the increased interest in online offerings at UMD, as well as explorations of flipped classrooms, and of other ways to effectively use technology-enhanced instruction.  Technology-enhanced instruction will not solve all our problems.  Our focus needs to be on what we can do well with a strong focus on academic excellence and student success.  How does it help us meet the changing needs and demands of our students?
                                                        vi.      Federal Legislation regarding Sexual Assaults on college campuses – I spoke about this topic last year, and UMD continues to be up-to-date on both federal and state legislation.  When new legislation concerning sexual assault was passed this past session of the Minnesota legislature, we were pleased that UMD is already in compliance with the majority of new requirements. We employ many best practices in responding to and in encouraging members of our campus community to report sexual assaultsWe have also increased prevention and education programs for our students. Our efforts include a bystander intervention program called Got Your Back! UMD. To date, over 3000 students have completed bystander intervention training through the program. In addition, new undergraduate and graduate students are required to participate in on line training in sexual assault prevention. Finally, HR&EO and Student Life teamed up to provide 8 training sessions for faculty and staff. This year, we’ll also be offering online training for all employees.
b.     Issues such as state funding challenges, greater competition for students, calls for accountability, performance-based funding, how we move forward with technology-enhanced instruction, how do we address sexual assault, alcohol and drug abuse among our students are Minnesota issues, as well as federal issues.  These issues and others are part of macro trends that are driving the world of higher education today and in the foreseeable future.  As we pursue our vision and goals at UMD, we need to be aware of these trends and frame the re-engineering of UMD around the issues that we cannot ignore and that have the greatest impact on who we are and where we are moving.
VII.            At the first meeting of the Chancellor’s Senior Leadership Council this summer our focused theme was academic excellence and student success.  Action items with timelines were determined on the following topics:
a.     Communication Action Items – Focused on campus internal communication and pushing out more stories and social media about the great things happening at UMD.
                                                             i.      Increasing regular communications from leadership, such as frequent Chancellor newsletters and three Town Hall meetings that will be scheduled for this academic year.
                                                           ii.      Encourage cascading messaging at the end of meetings so that people understand the main points or takeaways from the meeting and the messages they are to take back to constituent groups
                                                        iii.      Conduct a communications audit throughout campus followed by a gap analysis to see what’s missing and needed for formal and informal communication.
                                                        iv.      One area that we will be communicating clearly internally and externally is that we have now submitted all teacher education programs for review by the Board of Teaching.  These academic programs remain strong and the students in these programs will continue to receive full licensing upon graduation.
                                                           v.      Reaffirm our commitment to our vision of becoming “a premiere comprehensive university recognized as world class for its learning-centered student experiences, research, creative activities, and public engagement.”  This year we will begin a new examination of our strategic plan to see what changes we may wish to make in our goals and action steps.
b.     Budget Action Items
                                                             i.      Clarifying for the campus our final budget picture at the end of FY2015, including identifying areas that were reduced, new investments, and what else has changed.  Continue our development of real budgets that are all inclusive and sustainable and complete the transition away from the squishy budgets, or non-existent budgets of the past.
                                                           ii.      With leadership from our new Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations, and in collaboration with UMD campus governance and the system budget and finance office, complete a budget plan that addresses the remaining structural imbalance and that establishes a sustainable budget framework moving forward.
                                                        iii.      Explore investment opportunities in areas of excellence that capitalize on our strengths in teaching, research, and public engagement. 
c.      Morale & Engagement Action Items
                                                             i.      Within departments and units, maximize use of the system-wide engagement survey. I have asked my senior leadership to submit employee engagement plans.  That’s occurring now and I’m pleased with the depth and breadth of the conversations happening at the grass roots level.  We will again this fall join in the system-wide employee engagement survey.
                                                           ii.      In addition to the employee engagement survey, we will conduct a campus-wide climate survey administered by Sue Rankin and Associates, which will 1) identify successful campus climate initiatives, 2) uncover any challenges facing members of our community, and 3) develop strategic initiatives to build on the successes and address the challenges.   We have made much progress over the past five years in campus climate issues, but because of some of the challenges we have faced, especially last year, I felt it was time to have an external group to help us assess where we are and where we need to make changes to maximize our campus climate work.  It is important to our success for us to have a high completion rate on both surveys.  For the Rankin survey, departments and units need at least a 30% completion rate to receive feedback specific to their unit.  Please complete the survey yourself and encourage your colleagues and students to complete it also.  The engagement survey is for only faculty and staff, not students.  I encourage you and your colleagues to complete this survey also in order to give the departments and units a more complete picture of engagement among departmental and unit members.
                                                        iii.       Work toward greater commonalities among us, across academic disciplines, across disparate units throughout campus, and among faculty, staff and administrators.  Explore greater ways to connect with each other as Helen Mongan-Rallis stated last spring at the UMD Women’s Luncheon: “I think there are some lessons that may help us to break down the walls that we are building between groups and that may enable us to seek to create a campus climate that is kinder, gentler and more humane.”  The Commission on Women has expressed interest in working on these issues and Paula Pederson, Faculty for Intercultural Initiatives will continue to provide leadership in this area also.
                                                        iv.      I was thankful for the Supreme Court decision this summer that our U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage, and I am thankful that I live in a state where the voters had already taken a stand to support marriage for all people.
                                                           v.      But I was saddened at the news a little over a week ago that civil rights leader Julian Bond had passed way.  He was a major impact on me during my college years by the way he approached civil rights issues.  He was tough, thoughtful and assertive, but calming.  He was strong, but able to bring people to compromise.  Of all the college speakers I heard in the early 1970s, he was one of the most memorable and inspirational.
VIII.            Theatre Experiences
a.     The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime  
                                                             i.      This award-winning play is based upon the mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon.  A major theme of the play is difference and how we deal or do not deal well with people who are different from the norm.  It focuses on Christopher, a 15 year-old boy who is a mathematics genius with Asperger’s or Autism Spectrum Disorder, or perhaps Savant Syndrome.
                                                           ii.      Focus is not on his specific condition, but on his difficulties in dealing with a world that expects normalcy and a world that is uncomfortable with difference and with things that people do not understand.
                                                        iii.      A mother who cannot deal with him; a father who tries to raise him, but falls short in a number of ways; law enforcement and people on the street who are afraid of him or irritated by his “odd behavior” and difficulties in interacting with people – he can’t stand to be touched, responses strongly to loud noises, etc.
                                                        iv.      People who help him because they can see beyond his unusual external behavior and try to understand him.  People who are also seeking understanding and searching for a life and society that is kinder, gentler and more humane.

b.     Fun Home
                                                             i.      An award-winning musical based upon the graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel.  The plots of the memoir, subtitled “A Family Tragicomic,” and the musical focus on Alison’s discovery of herself and her challenges of growing up in a family with a domineering father and distant mother.  Her complex relationship with her father is the primary focus of the story Alison narrates, and the Alison character is played by three different actresses at different ages in her life.  Her or their relationship with the father is made more complex when Alison discovers that her father is gay and has numerous secret relationships with men. 
                                                           ii.      Alison’s life journey includes her struggles, understanding, and embracing her own sexuality and identity as a lesbian, and ultimately arriving at some understanding of her father.  This is not your typical Broadway musical.  However, it is an outstanding theatre piece that explores dealing with different types of difference, and like The Curious Incident how one can move toward understanding in spite of great challenges. 
c.      I share these theatre experiences with you because they struck me as applicable to many of the challenges and opportunities facing us here at UMD.  We have had and will continue to have multiple challenges, some created by our own mistakes, and some beyond our control.  For me, part of the power of the theatre experience is what it teaches us about the human experience.  I like to be entertained in the theatre, but I am most drawn to theatre experiences that lead me to grow in my understanding of others and of myself. 
d.     We have a high calling as teachers, researchers, artists and public servants.  We truly make a difference in the lives of our students, in others at UMD, and in our communities.  But we will not reach our full potential until we can see beyond our differences, assume the sincerity of others, and respect the dignity of all people.  Quoting from Helen Mongan-Rallis again, “So instead of rushing to judgment about what others do, let us start by assuming their sincerity and decency, and then lean in and really listen.”

IX.            You have my best wishes for an outstanding year at UMD.  Thank you for all you do to make this an incredible place to work, to learn and to grow.

I will now answer your questions both written questions and questions from the floor