Energy, strategy, changes

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Now that we’ve settled in after the always hectic Week One, welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful summer. Let me take a minute to tell you about some important work:

  • Strategic Planning: During the summer I began meeting with key stakeholders as we kicked off a critical and significant strategic planning process that will set our path for the next five to ten years. We have initially consulted with key faculty and staff groups, and that will continue into the fall. We’ll soon announce a strategic planning work group that Provost Hanson will chair. That group will guide the development of the plan. I want a plan that is ambitious, inspirational, and aspirational and for this process to be nimble and focused. I will be detailing our progress to the Board of Regents later this week.
  • Communicating: I will continue to schedule monthly faculty lunches, regular academic department visits, and discussions with faculty and staff consultative committees. On November 4, I will hold a Campus Conversation to provide a progress report on strategic planning and to answer your questions.
  • China and our global impact: In July, I took my first international trip as president to some of China’s top universities and research centers. We signed 10 cooperative research and student and faculty exchange agreements.
    I learned firsthand that our reputation throughout China is strong, and our more than 5,000 alumni there love the U and want to help faculty and students in any way they can. As other universities vie for influence in China, we must continue to build on our historic connections, and we will as we celebrate throughout this coming year the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Chinese students on our campus. We’re a global university, and we need to compete around the world for scholars, students, and partnerships.
  • Sustaining state support: I meet regularly with key legislative leaders to understand what’s on their minds, to maintain our strong relationship, and to thank them for partnering with us last session. As we approach the 2014 legislative session, which starts in February, and advocate for our capital request, I will call on you to help me make our case.
  • New leaders and change: Searches for key leadership positions are under way. We’ll soon have a new Medical School Dean and Vice President of the Academic Health Center. We’re deep into a search for a new dean for our College of Liberal Arts. And as Provost Hanson announced last week, we are exploring the creation of a new college—primarily from CFANS and CBS. I believe such a consolidation could significantly strengthen our already strong departments in those colleges and advance our national reputation and impact.
  • New energy and our students: Last week, amid the energy only they can produce, our incoming freshmen class of 2017—5,500 of the nation’s best new undergraduates—arrived on campus. We cannot forget why we’re here—for them, and for the future of this state and our planet. They hold such promise, and we own such a large responsibility to help them become lifelong critical thinkers. If you missed the Convocation, here’s a way to "Feel the Power" we celebrated on a very hot day at Mariucci Arena. Amid the sweat was great inspiration.

Finally, as my third academic year as University president begins, I want to thank you. Thank you for all that you do every day for our students, our research enterprise, our public outreach and engagement efforts, and for our reputation across the state and nation. Thank you for keeping this University great. Thank you for wanting to make it even better.
Have a productive and enjoyable academic year.


Eric Kaler