Faculty members urge Bruininks to include diverse options in plan

Professors also gave recommendations discussing and supporting changes.

by Anna Weggel

More than 30 University professors sent a letter late last week to University President Bob Bruininks endorsing task force recommendations on the future of the University.

The letter, drafted by chemistry professor Jeffrey Roberts, said the professors believe

the recommendations are modest in scope but describe a workable plan for beginning to build a new, transformational culture.

The letter also urges the president to ensure the new task force, which will be created if the Board of Regents passes the recommendations in June, will include as many faculty members as possible and that they will represent a diverse set of views.

Entomology professor David Andow, who signed the letter, said two professors, who are also members of the task force responsible for making the recommendations, held a meeting for Distinguished McKnight and Regents professors to discuss the proposals.

After that meeting, Roberts drafted a letter in support of the task force recommendations and gave his colleagues the opportunity to sign it.

Andow said he agreed with what the letter said and added his name.

“I think that for change to happen at the University, there needs to be a lot of people

who agree with it,” he said. “The purpose of this letter is to simply indicate that the president can count on these faculty to try to help implement change.”

Regents Professors David Tilman and Patricia Hampl were the two task force members who held the meeting.

Tilman said he and Hampl had nothing to do with drafting the letter but only provided an open discussion for the professors.

“We had an informational meeting to have a discussion,” he said. “That was the thing that started the process that led to (Roberts’) drafting.”

Tilman said he declined to sign the letter because he thought it would be inappropriate for him to play both the roles of professor and task force member.

But he said he hopes the letter influences Bruininks’ decision-making.

Tilman said that although he believes the recommendations are reasonable first steps toward improvement, the University is a large place, and there are many parts that need to be further looked into.

“Ultimately, it’s the faculty, and students, and staff who have to be a part of this ongoing discussion about how we can improve quality,” he said.