Strategic Planning Update: Research and Teaching

Dear Colleagues:

As the fall semester approaches, I want to give you an update on our progress in implementing the Twin Cities campus strategic plan and to extend thanks to all of you for the exceptional work you do every day to advance our University's tri-fold mission of research, education, and service.

There has been a tremendous faculty response to the Grand Challenges Research Strategies Team's Call for Ideas. Approximately 130 ideas on a wide range of topics have been submitted. The contributions have come from every college, cover a broad range of topics, and highlight the vigor, innovation, and reach of our researchers and teachers across many disciplines. Over 350 faculty are named as leads or co-leads on these proposals—with many more identified as potential contributors.

Consideration of the submitted ideas is under way by the Grand Challenges Research Strategies Team, which includes thirty distinguished faculty members and is chaired by Raymond Duvall, professor of political science and former interim dean of CLA. The committee is considering each submitted idea in relationship to the eight Grand Challenge criteria outlined in the strategic plan, and is looking especially for potential connections among the submissions.

Campus-wide forums are being planned in October and November to explore and develop the topics and overarching themes proposed in this summer's submissions. In addition to helping to shape the Grand Challenges priorities we will embrace as an institution, the forums are intended to help seed and foster interdisciplinary connections that could advance integrative research goals across the campus. Our aim is to use this process to create opportunities for faculty, students, and staff to discover and discuss shared research interests and to consider together how we might further benefit the variety of communities that we serve as a land-grant research university.

In addition, this fall we roll out the first offerings in our developing Grand Challenge Curriculum with an initial set of courses—on issues ranging from fracking to global hunger to reconciliation and justice—that will pave the way for consideration of how to integrate grand challenges into the University curriculum.

I ask all of you to engage with our ongoing work to leverage our academic strengths toward greater excellence and impact-and to make sure our campus in every way reflects the highest ideals of our institution.


Karen Hanson signature.

Karen Hanson,
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

email sent August 27, 2015 to Twin Cities faculty and staff.