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Being best for the world

CLA graduates transforming the world by example
February 11, 2021

Recently, I listened to a TEDx talk on “the purpose-driven university.” The basic premise of the talk was that colleges and universities should not occupy themselves only with being best in the world, but also best for the world. In the College of Liberal Arts, that sense of the connection to the state, nation, and world is central to our identity and our purpose. 

If you look at CLA’s work through a “best for the world” lens there are two main ways we have impact: through our faculty’s research and engagement and through you: the graduates who go into the world with an education from CLA and the University of Minnesota.  

As undergraduate and graduate alumni, you are the greatest example of our social impact as a college. You translate your education into leadership across numerous fields, sectors, and communities. From globally-recognized artists to CEOs to local entrepreneurs and much more, CLA alumni work every day toward transforming the lives of individuals, families, and communities. 

The college’s impact is also measured by how our research and creative work drives the highest quality engagement with governmental, non-profit, corporate, and community partners at the local, state, national, and global levels. In the TEDx talk it was noted how wonderful it would be if community groups and organizations had space to work on campus with members of a university community. I couldn’t help but think of the CLA Liberal Arts Engagement Hub, which is premised on doing exactly that. 

I often say that we seek to be a destination college not to pat ourselves on the back, not just to say we are the best, but to fulfill our purpose to do the most good we can for others. The better our research, the more prepared our students when they graduate, and the deeper our engagement, the more good we can do. That is the formula for a purpose-driven college. 

You are a vital part of that formula. You demonstrate the power of turning one person’s education into opportunities for communities and organizations around the globe. 

Thank you for all you do and for being a member of our community. As ever, please reach out to us and share your ideas and feedback. I encourage you to think about the formula of a purpose-driven college and help us imagine the future: what do we do differently, less of, or more of, to be a college that is “best for the world”?

Stay well and safe,

John Coleman

Dean, College of Liberal Arts