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Checking in With Dean Forbes -- September 2018

I work with many incredibly talented faculty and staff to set a course for the college. It’s one of the things I love most about my job. This job comes with great responsibility, and I feel a particular obligation to ensure that we always act with integrity and transparency to achieve our mission.

Taking a closer look at teaching
Teaching is one critical part of that mission. While the College has long had a teaching policy in place, questions have remained about how the teaching load is distributed equitably among faculty and how the policy has been applied in practice. In the interest of transparency and of ensuring that the policy is applied fairly, I convened a teaching task force last spring. The task force will soon share the results of their work with the CBS community and we will begin to implement its recommendations in the coming year.

Making the budget process more transparent
Transparency is also very much top of mind for me when it comes to the College’s budget. Each year around this time we start the budget cycle anew. With the budget for the current fiscal year set, we begin looking to the future with the goal of advancing our research, education and outreach in ways that are both impactful and sustainable. The budget process is complex, but I think it is important to provide as much information and insight as we can, which we will do in the months ahead. It’s important that we have a shared understanding of our sources of revenue, our costs, where we invest and what kind of return we expect to see on those investments.

Reaching more people
Outreach is one of those areas of investment and we’re seeing promising results. Our outreach efforts have become more robust and are reaching more people every year. To capture the various initiatives, events and programs that fall under the outreach umbrella, we introduced a new section to the College’s website that summarizes activities ranging from our Petri Dish conversation series to the tremendous outreach efforts at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, the InSciEd Out K-12 program and the great work of Market Science, which continues to expand to more parts of Minnesota (and beyond).

Supporting our research programs
CBS has had a tremendous year of success in research productivity, measured in grants funded, publications in high-impact journals, and prestigious awards. During a period of growth and investment in our faculty ranks, spurred by many retirements, we have managed to increase our research expenditures by 10 percent in the past two years. Whereas this is only one metric by which we measure our research success, it is the one used by many external bodies and worth noting.

Prioritizing our postdocs
We’ve also worked to foster a sense of community for our postdocs through support for the CBS Postdoc Committee and the Grand Challenges in Biology Postdoctoral Program, the third cohort of which launched earlier this summer. Postdocs are an important part of this community. They are a vital touchpoint for faculty and keep us attuned to new developments in our respective fields. The energy and enthusiasm they bring to our research is indispensable.

On a personal note, I’m very much looking forward to spending time in Germany and Italy during the next couple of weeks. I have been invited to give a talk in Parma, Italy at the European Food Safety Authority's conference on "Science, Food, Society" and will spend a little over a week collaborating with colleagues in Leipzig, Germany as part of my Helmholtz International Fellowship. I am also really looking forward to our first Petri Dish conversation of the season October 10 at the Bell Museum.

I hope you are as excited about the new academic year as I am. Every year brings new challenges and even more opportunities. Welcome back!

Posted 
September, 2018