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Checking in With Dean Forbes -- Summer 2021

Even as we enjoy the long days of summer, fall and a return to campus feel like they are just around the corner. While things won’t be exactly as they were and flexible work will allow greater latitude in how and where we do our jobs, the prospect of connecting in person with students and colleagues is certainly something to look forward to. In the meantime, I have a few updates to share with you.

Making undergraduate research accessible
At the end of the spring semester, we piloted the Dean’s Summer Research Scholar Initiative in an attempt to accelerate efforts to expand research opportunities, particularly to students who would otherwise need to work during the summer. The response from students and faculty was overwhelming: 233 students and 24 faculty applied to be part of the program. We were able to fund 37 positions in 24 labs this summer and hope to grow that number in future years.

Another successful year for fundraising
Despite a year filled with economic uncertainty, our advancement team raised more than $4 million last year for student support and other priorities. Notably, we received two very generous gifts from longtime supporters. Judi Huempfner gave a $1 million gift in honor of her late husband Richard to advance outreach at Cedar Creek. Joan Dvergsten gave a $1 million gift in honor of her late husband Denneth to support undergraduate research through our Active Learning Lab. These are incredible gifts, but I’m equally proud of the fact that we continue to add to the number of donors each year. Every gift is a vote of confidence in the work we do.

Breaking new ground for biotech
On September 23, we will celebrate the groundbreaking for the newest addition to the biotechnology quadrant on the St. Paul campus. Along with the Cargill Building, the new facility will serve as anchors for what we envision as a hub for biotechnology research and industry partnerships at the University of Minnesota.

This fall, we will also celebrate the belated grand opening of our Conservatory & Botanical Collection and launch our diversity, equity and inclusion community of practice among other initiatives. More details to come.

All of this is possible only because of the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of this community. Projects and initiatives don’t just happen. They require creativity, collaboration, attention to detail (so many details!), follow through and a shared sense of purpose. Even though we may not all focus on the big picture in our day-to-day work, we all contribute in our own way to outcomes that impact our collegiate community and broader community. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Posted 
July, 2021