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Dean's Blog

Dean John Coleman's updates and communications to on and off-campus communities. 

Career Readiness Guide

August 13, 2017
During the spring semester, the Office of Undergraduate Education released the first edition of the CLA Career Readiness Guide. Former Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Gary Oehlert and current Associate Dean Ascan Koerner shared the document with you via email at that time. It’s a terrific product that has been well received by our students and by our alums and friends outside the college. For more information about the Career Readiness Initiative and the Core Career Competencies, please consult the Career Readiness pages in the CLA Neighborhood. See also this Star-Tribune report on our efforts.Read more

The land grant mission, rightly understood

August 13, 2017
In public discourse, and even sometimes in higher education discourse, the land grant mission of universities is rhetorically reduced to the teaching of mechanical or technical skills. And no doubt, these skills are important and were an important focus of the land grant mission. But this interpretation is a thin understanding of the land grant purpose. The full vision of the land grant system was to empower the individual in the interest of building their futures and building their communities. This vision was about conveying the knowledge that would lead to both economic development and political development. The land grant mission also aimed to extend the learning of liberal education to a larger population in a growing country. It was...Read more

CLA’s pivotal role in the University’s diversity and inclusion objectives

March 26, 2017
In the CLA Roadmap, we as a college dedicated ourselves to the improvement of diversity, inclusion, and access among our students. The University is also committed to inclusive excellence in Driving Tomorrow, the University’s strategic plan. CLA will be an essential part of the University’s ability to meet this objective. To give you some sense of what I mean, CLA is 44.2% of the Twin Cities undergraduate degree-seeking population and we comprise the following proportions of Twin Cities undergraduates: 48.4% of female students 47.1% of students of color 63.8% of American Indian students 41.6% of Asian/Pacific students 52.1% of African American students 73.1% of Hawaiian students 52.1% of Chicano/a & Latino/a students 48.2% of multi-racial students 53.3% of international students...Read more

The place of the university in unsettled times

November 15, 2016
I’d like to start by thanking the Provost for organizing this forum and for the inspirational comments made by my co-panelists. Where I will enter this discussion is by talking a bit about the educational and research missions of the university and their connection to our topic today. Let's think first about education. The university ensures that each of our undergraduate students is grounded in liberal education. There are many ways to think about this grounding, but I will highlight two aspects of that education. First, liberal education builds our capacity for empathy. Over the past weeks, we’ve been hearing the word empathy frequently. At this morning’s wonderful annual equity and diversity breakfast, several of the speakers mentioned the importance...Read more

We All Own This

November 14, 2016
We are a College of many different backgrounds, viewpoints, and beliefs. We are Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. We are Chicano, Latino, Asian, Black, White, and American Indian. We vote for Republicans, Democrats, and other candidates. We are LGBTQ and straight. We are from Minnesota, from the United States, and from countries around the world. We are liberal, conservative, socialist, and libertarian. And we are many more individuals and groups. We are all in this together. All of us, across all of our differences of background and viewpoint, have valuable contributions to make and must be confident we are fully free to be ourselves and be fully embraced as part of our community. Our differences of background, identity, and viewpoint strengthen...Read more

The Liberal Arts and Democracy

November 11, 2016
Politics is not easy -- nor should it be. Much is at stake. Vigorous and forceful argument and counterargument capture our attention. They energize us and stir us to participate. We should not pine for dull and boring politics. But we must be open to different perspectives. The liberal arts teach us to act toward others with humility and respect because we recognize there are multiple ways to look at the world. Placing value on empathy and community allows individuals and groups to engage in productive debate while maintaining a commitment to societal well-being. I encourage you to read the whole thing .Read more

What do we do in the liberal arts?

March 31, 2016
A couple of weeks ago, while desperately awaiting my bag of 5 pretzels on a flight, I got to thinking about the idea that in the liberal arts and in this college we transform lives. I have used that expression myself many, many times. Whether within the college, in discussions with folks in other parts of the university, or with alums, donors, friends, regents, and others, I have conveyed that message many times. I deeply believe it to be true. Pretzels in hand, I mused on this a little more. What do we mean by transforming lives? Or, put differently, what kind of lives do we believe the liberal arts build? What is the result of our teaching, research, and...Read more

CLA and community

March 16, 2016
CLA is a place for everyone. From the students admitted to and enrolled in our college to the staff and faculty employed here--all belong. We in CLA are unified with university leadership in its efforts to provide support for those concerned about and affected by changes in government policy. Recently, a webpage was launched at the Campus Climate website to provide the latest information on immigration and related matters. I encourage you to review the page and revisit from time to time as updates will likely be frequent. In mid-November, I participated in a forum organized by the Provost, titled “Reaffirming Our Values, Rebuilding the Social Compact.” In my brief remarks, I discussed how the university’s education and research missions...Read more

Student Readiness and the Liberal Arts

December 31, 2015
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014 The CLA Roadmap calls for CLA alumni to be superbly prepared for the next stage of life after campus. In addition to educating our students to be well prepared to engage in civic life, we must also give them the confidence that their liberal arts training has left them well prepared embark on their career path. Students—and prospective students—who know we are deeply committed to their readiness will consider CLA a prime destination. We need to attract large numbers of high-achieving, CLA-first-choice students by offering them something different and better. When we think about the liberal arts we quite rightly often emphasize their value in teaching students to think critically, to excel in communication, to develop...Read more