October 24, 2002
Jim VanAlstine (chair), LeAnn Dean, Ken Crandall, Clare Strand, Lowell
Rasmussen, Jackie Thorvaldson,
Amy Ackerman, Shaun Hainey, Andy Lopez, Dennis Templeman
Absent: Maddy Maxeiner, Ken Hodgson, Ferolyn Angell
Jen Cushman, Sam Schuman, John F. Schwaller, Sandy Olson-Loy
minutes: update on UMM policy for naming parts of buildings, update on
request for financial consulting services from VP Pfutzenreuther's office,
report on "The Big Idea")
Minutes of September 26, 2002 and October 2, 2002 approved on a motion by Crandall, second by Templeman.
VanAlstine reported a couple of updates: 1) regarding the communications audit, we expect a report sometime in early to mid-December; and 2) regarding the naming of rooms in buildings, the chair of the Functions & Awards committee has agreed to put it on their agenda and report back to us.
Update on request for financial consulting services from VP Pfutzenreuther's office
Schuman reported that as a result of issues this committee raised during the discussions about how to staff our finance office and the committee's thoughts on having someone to do long-range fiscal planning, he wrote to Pfutzenreuther's asking for a senior staff member from his office to serve as a temporary fiscal consultant for UMM. Schuman said he recently talked to Pfutzenreuther in the Twin Cities and his response was that he didn't see anything wrong with the request, he simply hadn't gotten to it yet.
The Big Idea
The "Big Idea" is to send every UMM student abroad, with all their classmates of the same year, to the same destination, between the Sophomore and Junior years. Here is how it would work.
UMM has a universal required Freshman Seminar for all students in the first semester. During this Seminar a group of special events would present to the students a number of options for their classes Sophomore trip. One can envision a convocation in which students who had spent time in various destinations would make presentations, etc. Perhaps a half-dozen options would be offered. We would avoid major Western European capitols like London and Paris, and focus more on places like Russia, Turkey, China, New Zealand, Brazil or Poland. In Western Europe, we might include options like York or Zurich. At the end of the first semester, the students, now hopefully informed about their choices, would pick a destination.
During the next three terms two things would happen:
1. The director of the program would use that year and a half to make final plans for transportation, staffing, housing, and programs in the selected country. Approximately one staff member per each 20 students would be selected, prepare appropriate offerings, be invited to some development opportunities, etc.
2. A sequence of attractive and informative programs about the country would be conducted. Thus, if the destination was Brazil, some seminars in conversational Portuguese could be held, an opportunity to learn about the history of the country offered, some introduction to its arts provided, etc.
Students would, as a group, travel together to the international destination, by a chartered airplane or two during the "May term" of the University of Minnesota, a three-week period immediately following the conclusion of the Spring Semester. We would probably try to find something like a dormitory to rent at a University at the destination.
At the final destination most activities would be in smaller groups of around 20 students. For example, we might choose to offer 15-20 week-long seminars which met for four days of each of the three weeks, and were each repeated two or three times. There might be a schedule of field expeditions, also offered on a repeating basis. There would also be a few large events - a concert or folkloric program, a geology expedition, an evening at a museum, etc. for the entire group.
When the students returned, for their final two years at UMM, a continuing program focusing on the country they had visited could be offered - a few performers, lectures, book discussion groups, etc. We might make an effort to invite as our graduation speaker someone with a connection to "their" country.
This would be a unique and transformative experience for students - and for the faculty and staff who worked with them. Managing such a program would be a challenge, but a realistic one. Funding it is also a challenge: best estimates are that the entire program might cost between $750,000 and $1 million per year, depending upon destination costs. We envision funding through a combination of grants, tuition income and building an endowment through private philanthropy. It really is a "big"idea!
Lopez said he thought it a very good idea and asked about the size of endowment needed to cover the costs and if the students would get credit for the trip. He also asked if multi destinations have been considered instead of a single destination. Schuman said that Jerry Fisher, President of University Foundation, did not think it was unrealistic to come up with a gift like this. He added that no one is doing this or ever tried to and this will get peoples attention. Regarding the credit question, Schuman said he plans to discuss this with the Curriculum Committee. VanAlstine asked if the costs were to come out of our operating budget, how would we increase our budget. Schuman said he has no idea what our budget will look like, but he assumes there will be a tuition increase. He is becoming more persuaded that throwing ourselves on the mercy of the central administration will not help, but we can control things like tuition and philanthropy. Thorvaldson said that from a student perspective, she did not think it would unreasonable to ask $500 from each student to pay for the trip. Schuman said he's rather increase the tuition by $125 per year than ask for a $500 lump sum. Strand asked if the terrorist attacks have changed the way he thinks about this proposal. Schuman said he came up with the idea before September 11, however, that event has changed his thinking in a couple of ways: 1) he would be more cautious than he already is; and 2) he believes students are just as safe in the Czech Republic as they are in Minneapolis. He said that he has cancelled programs before and would do it again if necessary. He also added that we can try to build a wall or we can become more dedicated to learning about the world and teaching the world about us. VanAlstine asked about the timing and the fact that traditionally at the end of the sophomore year is when we lose students. Schuman thought this could be one of the best retention builders and something thing that would keep them here. He added that he does not want to change the demographics of the college. This would be really good for students from smaller communities who haven't had the opportunity to travel. VanAlstine said he thought this would be tremendous opportunity that would result in big dividends.
The next meeting is Thursday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m. in the Behmler Conference Room. Agenda items will include discussion of Historic District Designation for the mall area and a discussion with Scott Hagg, Director of Admissions.
Meeting adjourned at 2:00 p.m.