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Checking in with Dean Forbes -- March 2019

I recently shared the College’s FY20 Compact and the 2018 Annual Report. I encourage you to spend some time reviewing these documents when you have a chance. Taken together, the College’s compact and annual report provide a snapshot of our past, present and future. The contents of both documents speak to what we have achieved and what we can yet achieve through our collective efforts.

One big takeaway from our annual report is the incredible momentum we have achieved across our research, education, and outreach mission. This is apparent in the record levels of research funding, the number of publications, and the support we provide for collaborations within and beyond the College. It comes through in the continued demand for our undergraduate program and in the productivity of our graduate students and postdocs. Record-breaking levels of public engagement and extraordinary amounts of private support also serve as positive indicators.

Going forward, we will continue to build on that momentum with an eye to creating the conditions for continued innovation, discovery and collaboration. Our compact outlines our strategies for advancing on multiple fronts.

One of the priorities in our FY20 Compact is to increase diversity at all levels. We’re working toward this goal in a variety of ways including strengthening our faculty search process with a focus on diversity, participating in the President’s Postdoctoral Fellows Program, and providing graduate support to students who are from underrepresented groups.

As we work to increase diversity, we are also focused on raising the visibility of the outstanding work of faculty, staff and students here at the University. We do this through our annual SciSpark event, which is happening April 10 at Coffman Union Theater. This year, we’re also partnered with the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, the BioTechnology Institute and the Digital Arts, Sciences and Humanities Program to host the first-ever UMN Women in STEM Wikithon. Currently, biographies of women account for less than 20 percent of the entries in Wikipedia. This event creates an opportunity to work toward remedying that imbalance.

As we enter the intensely busy time ahead, please be sure to take time for personal wellness. The University offers many resources, and taking care of ourselves should always be a high priority.

March, 2019