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Eleven task forces submit revised Transforming the U recommendations
February 16, 2006
The first 11 of 34 task forces working to transform the University of Minnesota into one of the top three public research universities in the world have submitted their revised recommendations.
Developed by 113 faculty, staff, students, and community members who served on the 11 task forces, the recommendations are now being reviewed by University leaders.
"These revised recommendations represent ideas on a wide range of issues by an informed and engaged group of people," says Vice President Kathy Brown, who is guiding this phase of the strategic positioning process. "The recommendations themselves have been strengthened by input and discussion with the broader U community over the past few weeks."
Among the task forces are those charged with the redesign of six Twin Cities campus colleges into three colleges and systemwide task forces on diversity, international, and preK-12 strategy.
"We are on a path to truly transform the University," says Senior Vice President Robert Jones. "The task force recommendations will inform and shape the decisions that will move us toward our goal of becoming a top-three public research university."More than 350 people participated in the public comment period from December 16 to January 27. In addition, many task forces held open forums, focus groups, and interviews on all campuses to get additional input. In all, more than 225 discussions with individuals and groups were held since the task forces began work in September 2005.
"The depth and breadth of consultation during the public comment period was extremely valuable and I applaud the task force members for their diligence," says Tom Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "The feedback has strengthened the recommendations and produced greater clarity of thought in some key areas."
"We are on a path to truly transform the University," says Senior Vice President Robert Jones. "The task force recommendations will inform and shape the decisions that will move us toward our goal of becoming a top-three public research university."
While senior U officers are already reviewing the revised recommendations, a two-day retreat for the leadership team, including President Robert Bruininks and Provost Tom Sullivan, is scheduled for February 28 and March 1 to determine next steps.
"The work of these task forces are producing recommendations that will emerge in different ways and at different stages as we develop implementation plans to transform the University over the next few years," Brown says. "Each one merits consideration and will enrich the journey toward top three." Other task forces are at different points in the process. Public comment periods continue:
- Metrics and Measurement Task Force through February 24
- Administrative Service and Productivity Steering Committee through March 6
- Task Force on Collegiate Design: Small Colleges through March 13
A brief review of the 11 academic and systemwide task force recommendations appears below. To read them in full see the Transforming the U Web site (click on Task Force Revised Recommendations).
Collegiate design: CALA/CHE
Revised recommendations include:
- a proposed name and mission for the new college;
- position the college as the nexus for design-related education and research throughout the University;
- advance partnerships with professions, industries, agencies and communities-locally, nationally and globally;
- expand the faculty to support innovative interdisciplinary work;
- bring together the various design disciplines on one campus in better connected space and facilities.
Each of these task forces was asked to consider different aspects of an expanded college formed from the integration of the College of Education and Human Development, General College and the School of Social Work and Department of Family Social Sciences from the College of Human Ecology. Revised recommendations include:
- retain the core academic strengths of General College in a new department;
- create new interdisciplinary majors and "centerpiece" topics--such as literacy or eliminating school violence--to enhance collaborative research and teaching;
- extend GC's advising and mentoring model throughout the new college and develop models for teaching and advising that promote access to excellence for underserved and underrepresented students;
- foster strategic collaboration with the Center for Teaching and Learning Services, and closer ties with the preK-12 community, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the business and nonprofit communities.
Revised recommendations include:
- organize academic departments into three clusters, plus three free-standing departments, and develop an "allied department" concept with other units;
- develop priority themes for interdisciplinary activities that address the environment, production agriculture, food systems and renewable resources;
- create a systemwide Institute of the Environment; translate advancements in fundamental sciences to applications in agriculture, food, renewable resources and the environment;
- develop new partnerships for interdisciplinary teaching and research; and
- a proposed new name for the college.
- make diversity the priority for the University system, in part by advancing a comprehensive understanding of diverse people and their myriad ways of being, knowing,and learning, and by supporting equitable and accessible learning, working and social environments for all community members, internal and external;
- every unit and every person across the system must understand that diversity is their responsibility.
- continue to increase institutional investment in graduate education, particularly in the area of graduate student financial support;
- identify and implement best practices in graduate student recruitment, retention, mentoring, advising and degree completion;
- aggressively pursue timely degree completion for M.A. and Ph.D. students;
- increase flexibility in the allocation of new student Graduate School Fellowships;
- ensure that programs serving professional and working adult students meet their needs.
- build on the University's century of international involvement to forge a truly global identity for the University;
- create high priority, high impact international partnerships and initiatives in key areas and on critical themes;
- focus research and theory to shape statewide policy and practice;
- develop a cohesive and coordinated collaborative agenda around targeted preK-12 issues;
- ensure that University policies facilitate preK-12 engagements;
- make preK-12 work visible and accessible to practitioners and policy makers;
- through the newly created Consortium for Post-Secondary Academic Success, the University should build strong, enduring partnerships engaging stakeholder groups and help raise aspirations and standards for academic success.
- create a unified campus-wide University Honors Program that allows students to pursue interests in any undergraduate college, offers faculty mentoring and facilitates priority admission to professional programs;
- create a Regents Scholars Option--an intimate, residential college experience focused on societal and academic challenges;
- build curricular and extracurricular programs that engage honors students with the research mission of the U;
- add honors sections of global seminars, regular course, and freshman seminars;
- aggressively recruit a diverse pool of the most accomplished and talented students, in part by providing more extensive and creative scholarship packages (including funds for research and study abroad).
- establish campus-wide learning and student success outcomes and coordinate undergraduate student support programs and resources to achieve them;
- develop a department, program, or institute in which faculty and staff research focuses on the scholarship of college student success, including teaching and student development;
- invest in and strengthen academic advising and career services across the campus;
- develop a campus-wide communications plan that intentionally and consistently conveys the University's goals, expectations, and resources for undergraduate success;
- require all undergraduate students to complete a mentored scholarly, creative, professional, or research experience;
- develop programs for all new faculty and instructional staff that focus on outcomes-based learning and pedagogy, high expectations for students, and mentorship.
- ensure that all baccalaureate degrees be "writing enriched" by requiring that all first-year students have a full year of writing instruction, all departments develop a "baccalaureate writing plan," and including a number of writing activities in an overall writing curriculum;
- establish strong centralized leadership for writing;
- create a University-wide academic unit in writing studies;
- coordinate existing programs to make one-on-one writing instruction widely available.