On March 4, at the Inauguration Ceremony, Dr. Lendley C. "Lynn" Black is installed as the ninth chancellor of the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). Inauguration Week will reflect the interests and values of the new chancellor with themes of research, diversity, sustainability and community service.
The celebratory week begins Tuesday, March 1, and extends through Saturday, March 5. "This week is about showcasing UMD's achievements," said Black. "It's a historical moment for us all."
Black began his tenure as UMD's ninth chancellor last August, but the inauguration ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday, March 4 will be his formal installation. The ceremony is free and open to the public, as are many Inauguration Week events. Visit Inauguration Week Events for more information.
Black said he was drawn to UMD in part by the high quality of teaching, research and community involvement. He noted that UMD receives more external research funding than all other state colleges and universities combined, second only to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. "That research translates into patents, licenses, new industry, and jobs," Black said. The chancellor was especially impressed with the undergraduate research program.
Equity and diversity are among the highest issues on Black's list of priorities for UMD. It's an especially important topic for him because he grew up in a segregated neighborhood in Memphis, Tenn. "We need to prepare our students for a global society and to do that well, they need to be in contact with the kinds of people they will interact with throughout their careers," he said.
He would like to attract more foreign students and find ways to ensure individual differences are valued to enable "great academic debate" in a civil and productive manner." To that end, next fall, UMD will offer a new masters program in Tribal Administration and Governance, expanding its role as a leader in American Indian education.
Within the context of the campus and the larger world, UMD seeks to balance current environmental, economic and social needs with the needs of future generations. Sustainability is a "critical" priority to Black and UMD leaders.
He noted that UMD has signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment and that faculty, staff and students have made extensive sustainability efforts. They include incorporating sustainable concepts into academics, constructing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings, and recycling tons of food waste into high-quality fertilizer. "We have to not only continue those efforts, but see how we can enhance them," he said.
UMD's location on Lake Superior, which has the largest surface area of any fresh water lake in the world, makes it a natural fit for studying how to preserve these bodies of water. UMD's Large Lakes Observatory is the largest program of its kind in the nation. "The majority of the surface fresh water on the planet resides in a handful of large lakes, and stewardship of this resource requires constant monitoring and continuing research," said Dr. Steve Colman, director of the Large Lakes Observatory. Black is eager to see those efforts, as well as other natural resource-based programs, such as Sea Grant and the Natural Resources Research Institute, continue and expand.
The Inauguration Week day of community service, or CHAMP Day (Connecting Hopes with Acton to Mobilize People) on Saturday, March 5, was Black's idea and he will be visiting with about 300 student, staff and faculty volunteers during the day. "I have a strong sense of the importance of community service," he said. "We learn so much, the community benefits so much, and individuals gain so much meaning for their lives." Interaction outside of the University, including with neighbors and businesses, is important for everyone, he said.
Although numerous challenges lie ahead for UMD, especially with regard to state funding, Black noted that higher education has had budget trials in the past and survived. "We will get through this and come out stronger on the other side," he said.
Meanwhile, UMD and members of the community at large are developing a strategic plan to address new realities and to help guide modest campus growth while increasing its academic stature.
"One of our great opportunities is to expand our presence and reach so that we have a much greater national reputation. That, I think, is very much within our grasp," Black said.
The new chancellor formerly served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Kennesaw State University in Georgia and held several administrative positions at Emporia State University in Kansas.
UMD is a comprehensive university - part of the University of Minnesota system - that offers 13 bachelor degrees in 74 majors. UMD has a two-year medical school and a College of Pharmacy among its graduate programs in 24 fields. Fall 2010 enrollment in all UMD programs was nearly 11,800 students.
UMD ranks among the top universities the country for its commitment Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programs. The University is also leader in American Indian education, with nearly 20 related campus programs, including strong programs in medicine. The Center for Freshwater Research and Policy and the Large Lakes Observatory contribute to the university's international reputation for comprehensive research in freshwater.
UMD consistently ranks among the top Midwestern, regional universities in U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges" issue.