University of Minnesota


Provost's Advisory Task Force

on the potential creation of a new college
devoted to agriculture, natural resources, environmental and life sciences.

Provost Hanson's update to the CBS and CFANS communities

October 15, 2013

To: CBS and CFANS faculty, staff, and students
From: Karen Hanson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Re: Advisory Task Force

Dear CBS and CFANS faculty, staff, and students,

I write to update you on the Provost's Advisory Task Force I convened to examine the potential creation of a new college devoted to agriculture, natural resources, environmental and life sciences. As I wrote in late September, I have asked this group to examine, from varied perspectives and with no foregone conclusions, the idea of a new college that would integrate faculty and staff principally from the College of Biological Sciences and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. The first order of business for the task force is widespread consultation with interested stakeholders, both internal and external.

The task force met for the first time last week to begin planning a thoughtful and collaborative review process. This 19-member advisory group, which is co-chaired by professors Gary Muehlbauer and Michael Sadowsky, spans both colleges. It includes the 13 faculty members announced on September 20, and six student members appointed last week. A complete list of members is on the task force page on the provost's office website.

I attended the first meeting of the advisory task force on Oct. 7 to discuss the charge and to emphasize my expectation that the task force will shepherd a full, frank, and thorough exploratory process that weighs salient issues from all relevant perspectives. I have asked the task force to consider whether consolidating existing strengths will advance the excellence of our research and teaching; benefit students; enhance our partnerships with agriculture and other key stakeholders; and strengthen opportunities to help address critical challenges in agriculture, biology, environmental and natural resource sciences, and medicine.

I have asked the task force to develop listening sessions and other opportunities for input and exchange with internal and external constituents and stakeholders. The co-chairs and members of the task force will shape these broad-based conversations, as well as plan and implement whatever additional stakeholder engagement strategies they think desirable. Deans Buhr and Elde will also provide input to the task force chairs to help ensure comprehensive internal and external consultation strategies. My office will make available to the task force administrative and logistical support for these conversations and for any other stakeholder engagement plans identified by the task force.

I realize this open exploratory process may make for a period of some uncertainty for the CBS and CFANS college communities. As vigorous conversation unfolds over the next couple of months about the possible creation of a new college structure, I thank all staff and faculty for the excellent work you do everyday to serve students and to continue to advance the excellence of our academic programs and research. I also want to thank students for their hard work in CBS and CFANS programs, classrooms, and labs, and I want to assure them of our continued commitment to their success.

Your input will be critical to the conversation now taking place to position our programs for the future. I assure you that your perspectives will be valued by the task force, and by me. Updates on the process will be communicated by the task force and respective deans, and will continue to be posted on the provost's office website at (The task force charge and FAQ's can also be found there.) I hope you will look for opportunities to participate in listening sessions. I also encourage you to reach out directly to task force members to share any information or viewpoint you think may be valuable.

Thank you for your support and patience as this important discussion unfolds.

c: Brian Buhr, Interim Dean, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
   Robert Elde, Dean, College of Biological Sciences

Thank you for your participation
in this important review and planning effort.

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  • Last modified on October 15, 2012