September 21, 2016

Vol. XLVI No. 29

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • Features: Not all bioplastics are created equal; Thinking through the dirt; Atheists remain most disliked religious minority in the U.S.
  • People: Lorraine Francis has been named the 3M Chair in Experiential Learning; and more.

Top News

Not all bioplastics are created equalplastic bottle tops

Conventional plastics are seen as environmentally unfriendly because they’re made from fossil fuels. As plastic production grows--it’s expected to double over the next 20 years--plant-derived polyethylene terephthalate (BioPET) has been touted as a more environmentally friendly alternative to PET, a plastic primarily used in beverage bottles. But a University of Minnesota study suggests that’s not always the case.

Read more about plastics >

Thinking through the dirtKatherine Hayes at Ft. Snelling

Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, Fort Snelling is one of Minnesota's most well-known sites. But its history is more complex than that of just a military fort. The location is a sacred space for the Dakota people, and it was also used as a prison and concentration camp. It is these stories--and more--that anthropology professor Katherine Hayes and a small group of students are determined to tell.

Read more about Fort Snelling >

Atheists remain most disliked religious minority in the U.S.

Ten years ago U of M sociologists conducted research showing that, among a long list of racial and religious minority groups, atheists were the most disliked group of people in the United States. Last month they followed up with new research that shows that Americans still have negative opinions of atheists and the non-religious--and now they have a good theory about why that is.


Lorraine Francis has been named the 3M Chair in Experiential Learning; Bic Ngo and Josephine Lee have received a $1.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase services for Asian American students at UMTC; Zan Gao has received a $370,000 NIH research grant to study exergaming play among preschool children; Panayiota Kendeou is part of a team awarded a $498,485 grant through the NSF’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

Apply for the Imagine Fund awardsimagine fund graphic

Applications for 2017-18 Imagine Fund awards open at noon Sept. 21. Please note that Imagine has a new website this year, as well as revised application processes: Special Event proposals will be due earlier in the semester (Oct. 31) and Annual Award proposals will be due later (Dec. 5). The Imagine Fund for the Arts, Humanities, and Design is sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

Call for nominations: Distinguished Teaching Awards

Nomination materials for two 2016-17 Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Education--the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, and the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education--are now available. These awards recognize and reward outstanding contributions to teaching at the University of Minnesota. Awardees become members of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Nominations are due Jan. 10. Check with your college or campus for internal deadlines.

Call for nominations: 2017 Distinguished McKnight University Professorship

The Distinguished McKnight University Professorship program seeks to honor and reward the University of Minnesota’s most distinguished and highest-achieving mid-career faculty who have recently attained full professor status--especially those who have made significant advances in their careers at the University of Minnesota, whose work and reputation are identified with the University, and whose accomplishments have brought renown and prestige to Minnesota. Nominations are due Jan. 31. See Distinguished McKnight University Professorship nomination materials. For more information, email Chris Bremer or call 612-625-6176.

Faculty Legislative Liaison application deadline

Applications or nominations for two tenured faculty members to serve as Faculty Legislative Liaisons, a role that works closely with the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC) and Government Relations to provide a faculty voice and perspective at the State Capitol, will be accepted until Sept. 30. Liaisons also serve ex officio on the FCC. Email a letter of interest to Jon Steadland to apply or nominate a colleague. Applications should include an explanation of your interest and qualifications. Submit materials as a single PDF file with subject line, "Application/Nomination for the Faculty Legislative Liaison."

New look for login pages

Due to software upgrades, beginning Oct. 2 some commonly used University applications such as Gmail (and Google apps), Moodle, ULearn, and MyU will have login pages that look different. You can feel confident that you are logging into University systems by checking the address bar. The URL will always start with or if it's coming from the U of M.

See examples of the updated pages and learn more >

New University travel agency: Christopherson Business Travel

Christopherson Business Travel is the new travel agency for the University of Minnesota. The U of M has University-wide contracts with two travel agencies to provide assistance in obtaining airline tickets, making hotel/motel reservations, and securing car rentals. They are Christopherson Business Travel (women owned) and Metro Travel & Tours (minority owned). The U also has discounted air travel rates (2-10 percent) with Delta, which can be accessed through either agency or U of M Travel Services.

Sept. 24 – Fall Raptor Releaseman releasing raptor

The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota will release rehabilitated birds back into the wild at this year’s Fall Raptor Release. Release times are at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The event will also feature family-friendly activities and educational booths. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to enjoy the day’s events, but leave pets at home. Carpenter-St. Croix Valley Nature Center, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

U of M Landscape Arboretum Auxiliary Harvest Sale

This year’s Arboretum Auxiliary Harvest Sale will feature handmade crafts, the premiere of the Auxiliary’s first cookbook in 25 years, and a raffle for a stunning, award-winning quilt. Prices are reasonable and all proceeds benefit the Arboretum. Sept. 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sept. 25, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

BMS issues decision on who is eligible to vote in SEIU election

The Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) has issued a decision (PDF) about who is eligible to vote in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) election. Twin Cities lecturers and teaching specialists will be eligible to vote, as well as Twin Cities faculty covered under the Tenure Code. Extension educators will not be eligible to vote. Vice President for Human Resources Kathy Brown issued a statement (PDF) following the decision. The union election has not yet been set.


Chancellor Wood to retire

University of Minnesota Crookston Chancellor Fred Wood announced plans to retire from the University of Minnesota system at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

Sept. 21 - Founder's Day Celebration

It has been 50 years since founding provost Stanley Sahlstrom welcomed students to the University of Minnesota Technical Institute. The U of M Crookston will commemorate this historical time by marking Founder’s Day, with a celebration for the community and campus from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.

Sept. 22 - Hispanic Latino Heritage - History, Identity, and Culture

A performance by poet, artist, and organizer Michael Reyes will be featured as part of activities around National Hispanic Heritage Month. 3-4 p.m., Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.


Superior Dining celebrates grand openingsuperior dining facility

UMD’s Superior Dining recently hosted its grand opening. After a four-month, $5.2 million renovation, the space now features varied seating options, a gluten/allergen area, a dietician, and a gender-inclusive restroom. Construction took place within the footprint of the old dining center, which was built in 1974.

Cina Hall renovation completedCina hall

Following a 15-month, $4.6 million HEAPR-funded renovation, Cina Hall has reopened. Much-needed updates were done to the HVAC system, fire doors were added, main corridor flooring was replaced, and classrooms were painted. Each room features an orange accent wall, a color chosen by the Department of American Indian Studies, which represents the sun rising over Lake Superior.

Sept. 27 - Visual Culture Lecture SeriesIvana Savic

Ivana Savic, who earned an MFA in graphic design from UMD, will present at the next Visual Culture Lecture Series. She currently works as an experience designer at ClipMine, a seed-stage technology startup in Silicon Valley. Previously she ran her own consulting firm. 6-7 p.m., 70 Montague Hall.

‘First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare’Shakespeare

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” opens Oct. 4 at the Tweed Museum of Art. In addition to this national traveling exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a wide range of events will be presented throughout Duluth, including theatre, dance, film, and lectures. At “Remixing Shakespeare,” the band Low will perform a live score to original silent film adaptations.


Morris makes U.S. News top public liberal arts colleges listhappy umm staff member

U.S. News & World Report released its 2017 college rankings, naming UMM one of the nation's Top Public Liberal Arts Colleges. This is the 18th consecutive year in which UMM has been included on this list. The campus also was included on the A-Plus Schools for B Students, Foreign Student Factor, and High School Counselor Rankings lists.

Sept. 27 - Café Scientifiqueperson putting storage boxes away

The next Café Scientifique will feature Associate Professor of Biology PZ Myers and Katrine Sjovold ’18 in the discussion: “Cells in Motion: How Cells Move to Build Embryos, Create Patterns, and Cause Cancer.” 6 p.m., Common Cup Coffeehouse (501 Atlantic Avenue).


Sept. 27 - UMR Connects: Rochester Fire Department

UMR Connects will next feature Deputy Fire Chief R. Vance Swisher will discuss the importance and impact the Rochester Fire Department has had on Rochester for the last 150 years, and the role it will play as Rochester moves forward with DMC and the anticipated growth of the Rochester community.

Guided morning meditation

Faculty and staff are encouraged to start every Tuesday off in peace and positivity with morning meditation at 398 University Square, 8:30-9 a.m.

Vice Chancellor Carrell's September Reflection

As the fall semester begins in a cultural context like no other in history, Vice Chancellor Lori Carrell asks in this month’s Reflective Challenge how we can pursue wellness individually and collectively.

Twin Cities

‘Academic Integrity Matters’ volunteers sought

The Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity is seeking volunteers to serve as community members for the Academic Integrity Matters (AIM) program. Based on restorative justice principles, AIM helps students understand the impact of scholastic dishonesty through dialogue with members of the University community.

Department Directory redesign project

The Twin Cities online Department Directory is being redesigned. The project will collect updated directory information from all units between Sept. 20 and Oct. 31. Find out more about the project on the Directory Update Project webpage.

Spotlight on Safe Computing: Use secure WiFi

The University’s WiFi network is about 10 times faster than the average home network. It is also one of the largest campus WiFi networks in the country. And it is secure. Learn why secure WiFi matters and discover how to surf safely when you’re on campus.

Earn 50 Wellness Points and hone your healthy cooking skills

UMTC employees can earn 50 Wellness Points for taking the four-week course “Cooking for Wellness - The Basics,” sponsored by Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives. The course is designed to help develop healthy cooking and eating strategies. Culinary educators use hands-on demonstrations to teach foundational techniques to adapt your cooking for a healthier lifestyle and greater wellbeing.

Sept. 27 - Ready Campus preparedness event

In conjunction with FEMA’s National Preparedness Month, a Ready Campus event highlighting valuable disaster preparedness information will feature U of M and external partners, emergency vehicles, and more. 9 a.m.-noon, Gateway Plaza, McNamara Alumni Center. Sponsored by the U’s Department of Emergency Management and TCF Bank.

Sept. 28 - Canvas faculty experience presentation

The U of M is beginning the second year of the Canvas learning management system (LMS) pilot. Those interested in learning more about the system from a faculty perspective are invited to attend a presentation by Charlotte Romain, who will explain her decision to join the pilot project, ‎the process of moving her course‎s, ‎how the system worked in practice, ‎and more‎. 11 a.m.–noon, 5-125 Moos Tower or watch online.

Sept. 28 - A conversation with the U.S. ambassador to Somalia

Join Humphrey School Dean Eric Schwartz for a discussion with the recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to Somalia, Stephen Schwartz. Ambassador Schwartz will comment on U.S. policy toward Somalia and the role of Somali-Americans in promoting development in Somalia and in engaging in political, social, and economic issues in the United States. 7-8:15 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School.

Oct. 3 - The Growing Political Power of Hispanics

Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States and a growing political force, as a record 27.3 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in the 2016 election. Pew Research Center’s Mark Hugo Lopez, one of the country’s leading experts on Hispanics, traces their growth and political importance. Noon-1:15 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School. 

Teaching Support Workshops

TeachingSupport@UMN is offering a series of workshops for faculty and instructors throughout the year focused on how the research on learning can inform teaching. In this first workshop, Maximizing student learning while minimizing cognitive load, attendees will learn about some known cognitive limitations and discuss concrete strategies for enhancing class sessions and course materials without overloading students' cognitive abilities. Oct. 4, 10:30-11:30 a.m., 101 Walter Library.

Oct. 5 - Where the Wild Things Aren't: The Future of Wilderness and Wildlife from the Serengeti to the Arctic

Aaron Doering will join Craig Packer and Jessica Hellmann in the first of a new “Petri Dish” series, to be held the first Wednesday of the month starting in October. The events will be curiosity-driven conversations between University experts about how biology affects our lives and what it means for our future. The first event, “Where the Wild Things Aren’t,” will take place at 5 p.m., Bedlam Theater, Lowertown St. Paul.

See more and reserve tickets >

Homecoming coloring contest for kidsblack and white goldy for coloring

Participate in the upcoming 2016 Homecoming celebration with the “Gopher Glory” coloring contest. Student Unions & Activities invites children 12 and under to submit their own unique rendition of the Goldy the Gopher coloring page. One boy and one girl will be featured as special guests in the homecoming parade on Oct. 21. First-place winners from each age group will also receive a homecoming prize pack. Submission deadline is Oct. 10.
See Goldy coloring contest guidelines and more information.

Leadership Essentials course for supervisors

Faculty and staff who manage others are invited to participate in an enhanced leadership development program through Leadership and Talent Development in the Office of Human Resources. Participants will build foundational leadership skills to foster engagement and create results. The next four-day course will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 14, and 15. Register by Oct. 17.

Oct. 20 - Celebrating University Women Awards

Help honor the outstanding recipients of Women's Center–affiliated scholarships, grants, and awards with a short program and dessert reception. Sponsored by the Women's Center, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the Office for Equity and Diversity. 4-6 p.m., Johnson Great Room, McNamara Alumni Center.

RSVP for the University Women Awards and learn more >

Oct. 26 - Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholars Award lecture

Sarah Hobbie, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, will receive the Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholars Award and present her creative, whole-watershed approach to understanding and solving the problem of impaired water quality in cities. Sponsored by the Women's Center in the Office for Equity and Diversity, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and University Libraries.

RSVP for the Ada Comstock Award and lecture >

UMTC Featured Eventssewing machine sewing money

Sept. 22 - You Get What You Pay For: The Cost of War Panel Discussion

Sept. 23 - NASA Astronaut Col. Pamela Melroy

Sept. 26 - "The Miller's Tale": A Reading by English Faculty

Sept. 27 - Medical Cannabis and the FDA

Sept. 29 - Webinar: The Purpose Checkup

Sept. 29 - Kann Memorial Lecture

Events Calendar >