March 1, 2017

Vol. XLVII No. 8

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • Support the U and State Relations update.
  • March 2 - State of the University Address.
  • U statement of support for transgender rights.
  • Features: Bell Museum’s cooked wood highlights niche industry opportunity; Energy-collecting windows one step closer to reality.
  • People: The NorthStar Initiative has named Jennifer Schmitt as its new program director; and more.

Top News

Support the U and State Relations update

Faculty, staff, and students supporting the U of M will gather at the Capitol Rotunda at noon on March 1 to meet with lawmakers and discuss the importance of the University. Golden Gopher football coach PJ Fleck will speak at the rally. The rally comes at a critical time, as University officials will present the U’s budget request to lawmakers in the coming days, and lawmakers will focus on setting the budget for the next biennium, including the state's appropriation for the University of Minnesota.

Learn more, attend hearings, and take action >

March 2 - State of the University address

Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend in person or watch online President Kaler’s 2017 State of the University address. 3:30-4:30 p.m., Coffman Union Theater. Kaler will announce new University commitments to address concerns of immigrant and undocumented students, faculty, and staff, and to prevent sexual assault. He will stress inclusiveness, expressing the University’s support for members of our transgender community and decrying recent racist and hateful incidents. The speech will also focus on the U’s role in Minnesota and its commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech.

U statement of support for transgender rights

The White House recently withdrew guidelines protecting transgender rights in America’s public schools and college campuses. President Kaler has issued a statement emphasizing that the U of M stands by our values of equity and inclusion and the right of transgender and gender-nonconforming members of our campus community to learn, teach, and work without any form of harassment and discrimination. Our support for these rights will not change.

Read the statement >

Bell Museum’s cooked wood highlights niche industry opportunityexterior wood of Bell museum

The exterior of the new Bell Museum of Natural History and Planetarium on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus will be nearly half covered with Minnesota white pine that has been cooked in a giant kiln. The process, called thermal modification, is a chemical-free way to make wood more stable and water-resistant. The Bell project highlights an economic opportunity for Minnesota—and one where the Natural Resources Research Institute at the U of M Duluth plays a crucial role.

Energy-collecting windows one step closer to realitySamantha Ehrenberg

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca have developed technology to embed the silicon nanoparticles into what they call efficient luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs). These LSCs are the key element of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy. When light shines through the surface, the useful frequencies of light are trapped and concentrated to the edges, where small solar cells capture the energy.


The NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise has announced Jennifer Schmitt as its new program director; Gillian Roehrig has been elected president of the Association for Science Teachers Education; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

Find some focus for your health goals with the wellness assessment

When you take the wellness assessment from StayWell, the University’s Wellness Program partner, you can get personalized results to help you figure out where best to focus your attention to improve your health. The confidential assessment takes just 10 minutes to complete, and you’ll automatically earn 150 wellness points. If your spouse is covered by the UPlan, he or she can also take the assessment and earn 150 points. The deadline to earn points for the assessment is March 31.

IT services feedback survey

Faculty, staff, and student feedback is needed to shape the future of information technology at the U of M. The annual IT governance process helps IT service providers understand the needs of the U community. Take this brief feedback survey to help IT improve services and plan for future needs.

Capacity-building sets stage for international research partnerships

Researchers at the University of Minnesota will soon come together with their counterparts from across Latin America to improve animal, human, and environmental health through collaborative research. This international network, launched through a two-year International Capacity Building grant from the U’s Office of the Vice President for Research, will serve as the framework for forming new research projects around subjects that can benefit both the U.S. and Latin America.

Thriving in times of change

What makes us proud of where we live today is often the result of decisions made decades ago. U of M Extension brings education and applied research to all of Minnesota. Learn more about Extension’s work with community leaders and the residents of three Minnesota communities to plan their futures.

Benefits Advisory Committee requests comments

The Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC) requests your comments about your experiences—either positive or negative—with the UPlan health and wellness plans since January 2016. The BAC values your comments in assessing the quality of services. Anonymous summaries are used in performance reviews of UPlan health and wellness plans. Comment deadline is March 10.

Increase your influence and effectiveness as a supervisor

Those who manage the work of others and who want to become more confident in leading people, building and managing a high-performing team, and achieving results, should sign up for Leadership Essentials, offered by Leadership and Talent Development and the College of Continuing Education. Takes place March 13, 20, and 27, and Apr. 3. Register by March 10.

March 20, 21, 22 - Learning Management System vendor demos

The University is quickly approaching a decision on the future of its centrally supported Learning Management System (LMS). The decision is officially between two options: a “Software as a Service” hosted version of Moodle (represented in the evaluation period by MoodleRooms), and the Canvas LMS. Join us in person or online as representatives from each vendor will demonstrate the features and functions of each system and answer questions. Members of the Academic Technology Tools team will also be present to assist.

Apr. 13-14 - Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to register for the Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium (by March 1 to be guaranteed a spot), presented by the Institute for Engineering in Medicine. Attended by scientists, engineers, clinicians, industrial practitioners, and entrepreneurs from around the world, the two-day symposium is an opportunity to learn more about this emerging discipline.

June 20-21 - Educational Equity in Action

Register now for Educational Equity in Action: Improving Social Emotional Learning Through Schools and Communities, the second U of M convening of Minnesota’s education leaders, researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit community organizations committed to improving educational equity in our state.


Campus virtual tour

UMC has worked collaboratively with the company Student Bridge to develop a virtual tour and video view book. The site is now available and linked to from the Admissions website.

March 6 - International Dinner Series kickoff

The 2017 International Dinner Series kicks off with “Life Happens Here: Bangladesh,” presented by student Imran Mahmud. 6 p.m., Bede Ballroom.

March 7 - College Town Forum

The Crookston Campus-Community Connection, working with the City of Crookston, the Crookston Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, the Crookston Student Association, and University Relations will host a College Town Forum. 6:30-8 p.m., Crookston American Legion.


Tax help for community membersLBSE building

Students from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) are once again offering tax preparation services at no charge to low income people around the Twin Ports area. The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program began in the 1970s and has become an important resource. About 60 LSBE students take part in the program each year.

At the theatreMarvin's room poster

William Payne, School of Fine Arts dean, is directing Marvin’s Room, a comedy exploring how we love, especially when aging and sickness get in the way. March 2-4 and 14-18, 7:30 p.m.; March 19, 2 p.m., Dudley Experimental Theatre, Marshall Performing Arts Center.


Women’s Basketball season endsCougar b-ball player driving the lane

The Cougar Women’s Basketball Team advanced to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament championship, where Bailey Miller ’19 led the Cougars with 11 points off the bench. Abby Van Kempen ’20 had a near double-double with 9 points and 13 rebounds. The Cougars ended their 2016-17 season with a 20-7 record: the fourth 20-win season in program history.

March 8 - Founders Scholar Convocation

UMM will present the Founders Scholar Convocation “Performing the Liberal Arts: The Heretic by Richard Bean.” Set in British academia, The Heretic deals with climate change and one of its more vocal deniers. The convocation will feature readings from the play with panel and audience discussion. 7 p.m., Humanities Fine Arts Black Box Theatre.


March 7 - Minimally Invasive Thermal Ablation of Primary and Metastatic Tumors Involving the Spine

Jonathan Morris, Mayo Clinic neuroradiologist, will discuss his collaboration in the implementation of thermal ablation in managing cancer that has spread to the spine at the next UMR Connects. Morris is co-director of the Anatomic Modeling Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic. 7 p.m., Room 417. 111 South Broadway.

Alan Waggoner Student Scholarship Award recipient Allison Huver

UMR senior Allison Huver has been awarded the Alan D. Waggoner Student Scholarship Award through the American Society of Echocardiography. Huver is studying echocardiography in the Bachelor of Science in Health Professions program, an educational collaboration with Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. She is the 15th student from the collaboration to receive the award.

Twin Cities

New electric vehicle charging stations

Parking & Transportation Services has expanded its electric vehicle charging stations on campus with 10 new stations. The U installed 7 charging stations in 2014. Learn more about the new locations and various types of charging stations.

March 2 - Sustainability Film Series: Catching the Sun

Through the stories of workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China, Catching the Sun captures the global race to lead the clean energy future. Attend a screening (no charge) and Q&A with filmmaker Shalini Kantayya to follow. 6 p.m., Bell Museum auditorium.

March 6 - How can college campuses fight sexual violence effectively?

Sexual violence on college campuses is not new, but there is a greater awareness of its prevalence and effects. A recent study found that one in four undergraduate women had experienced unwanted sexual contact during her college years, and a growing number of institutions are strategizing about how to respond to the problem. What’s not clear is the best approach to end sexual violence on campus. Join this discussion about how to create an environment where all students can receive an education free from fear. 3-4:30 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School.

Register and learn more >

March 7 - Provost’s Conversation Series: Yaa GyasiYaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing, will give a lecture on this story of race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa across 300 years in Ghana and America. Gyasi’s talk marks the third in the Provost’s Conversation Series: Constructing Community--Identity, Opportunity, and Place. The yearlong speaker series focuses on human rights, reflecting on how we can contribute to a more inclusive society. No charge, open to the public. 2 p.m., Coffman Union Theater.

March 1 deadline - Nominations sought: Provost’s Grand Challenge Research Initiative

Nominations are invited from faculty for Grand Challenges Research Scholar Collaboratives, providing opportunities for extended interdisciplinary engagement. In addition, pre-proposals are invited from interdisciplinary teams by March 20 for competitive research funding. The opportunities are part of the Provost’s Grand Challenge Research Initiative, which in 2017-18 will spotlight the challenges of just and equitable communities and clean water/sustainable ecosystems. The application deadline is March 1.

Learn more and apply >

Final call: Faculty Research Sprint proposals

Faculty Research Sprints (May 22-25) offer faculty the opportunity to partner with expert librarians on a specific project, or component of a broader project. Individuals or teams of faculty may apply to work intensively with a team of librarians. Applications are due March 6.

Apr. 5 - Mindful Self-Compassion

This 8-week community class offered through the U of M Center for Spirituality and Healing will tackle issues like how to handle difficult emotions with greater ease, how to motivate yourself with encouragement rather than criticism, and more. The class meets at the Mayo building meditation space one evening per week and includes a half-day Saturday retreat.

Register and learn more >

UMTC Featured EventsElizabeth Hoover

March 1 - Seeking Refuge in a Changing World
March 3 - Teaching in the Age of "Alternative Facts"
March 3 - Should academic writing assignments foster translingual writing practices? A conversation with readings (TWW)
March 7 - From Garden Warriors to Good Seeds: Food Sovereignty and American Indian Gardening Projects
March 8 - Architecture as Catalyst | Emily Hunt Turner

Events Calendar >