Outgoing UMM chancellor Sam Schuman
Schuman steps down as Morris chancellor
Leaves legacy of campus and community improvements
By Judy Korn
June 27, 2006
"Gladly would he learn, and gladly teach" --Chaucer
At the end of June, Sam Schuman, University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM), chancellor and Shakespearean scholar, will step down as chief administrative officer and return to teaching--the essence of his academic calling. During his 11-year tenure, first as vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean and then as chancellor, creating and supporting quality, innovative educational experiences for students has been his fundamental, guiding principle.
"We've been fortunate to benefit from Chancellor Sam's visionary leadership, which has improved the school's academic foundation and the student experience so significantly," said President Bob Bruininks.
Schuman has been instrumental in many major accomplishments at UMM; among them: the Morris campus being declared a national historic district, UMM's transition to NCAA Division III status in intercollegiate athletics, and UMM raising nearly $10 million--close to double its goal--during Campaign Minnesota, the University-wide fund-raising drive that brought in $1.6 billion. Under his tenure, UMM has made significant strides in several campus initiatives including sustainable energy, study abroad, and campus improvements, and it has risen to the U.S. News & World Report list of the top five public liberal arts colleges in the nation.
Here is a closer look at Schuman's legacy.
State-of-the-art teaching and research facilities Soon after Schuman assumed chancellor responsibilities in 1998, a flurry of legislative activity resulted in several impressive projects on campus. Since 1998, UMM has benefited from more than $60 million for campus construction and improvements, providing state-of-the art facilities for teaching, research, and fitness.
Campaign Minnesota Schuman served as chief fund-raising spokesperson during Campaign Minnesota, UMM's successful first capital campaign, during which almost $10 million was raised in private support. Thousands of students have already benefited and future students will continue to benefit from the gifts to the campus that support scholarships, academic programming, and faculty.
"I have been deeply moved and tremendously impressed by the depth and strength of the bonds of affection between UMM and its supporters," said Schuman.
International experiences A recently established exchange program with two Chinese universities illustrates Schuman's strong advocacy for study abroad as an important element in an undergraduate experience. UMM students can study the Mandarin language and the rich history and culture of China at Capital Normal University in Beijing. The students also have the opportunity to stay with host families in Jiashan, Morris's new sister city. And Morris will soon be home to Chinese students as they learn at UMM and are immersed in the culture of the Midwest.
Community connections Campus-community partnerships have been an important component in Schuman's chancellorship. In addition to the Jiashan-Morris sister city project, he has been involved with fellow Morris citizens in the All-American City program and worked with the Chamber of Commerce and other community groups. "Being in Morris and Stevens County is an essential part of what makes UMM what it is," Schuman said. "We both need each other and are stronger for our mutual support, aid, and respect."
The Regional Fitness Center (RFC) is also a highlight of Schuman's UMM career. A founding board member, he's also a faithful exerciser. "I use the locker facilities, the swimming pool, the cardio/exercise room," said Schuman. "Much more importantly, I see at the RFC a seamless blending of folks from the college and the community cooperating to improve their quality of life."
Green-campus initiatives UMM has been involved in green initiatives since Earth Day 1970, but since 2000, efforts have dramatically expanded to include nearly all aspects of campus life--power, food, water, transportation, waste stream infrastructure, academic study, and quality of life. Students are involved in all of UMM's green campus initiatives, from recycling to water use reduction, from internships to service learning.
A collaboration with the U's West Central Research and Outreach Center supplies more than 60 percent of UMM's electricity needs from the first large-scale wind research turbine ever constructed at a U.S. public university. Plans are currently underway for a biomass gasification demonstration and research facility that will supply up to 80 percent of the campus's heating and cooling needs.
Schuman has supported and facilitated the initiatives and is excited about UMM's future as a green-campus leader.
Difficult times While the good memories far outweigh the not-so-good, Schuman will retain recollections of difficult times and difficult decisions. Two periods in UMM's past are particularly sobering: the budget cuts of 2002-04 and the clerical union strike in 2003. "The budget cuts--over $1.5 million, out of a budget of about $25 million--were incredibly painful," he said, "and we have certainly not fully recovered from that trauma. In some ways, the strike was even more painful because it forced friends and colleagues to be on opposite sides of a highly divisive issue, and, because as chancellor, I was totally without power to influence either the central administration or the union."
The move of Cougar athletics from Division II to Division III was a difficult process that ended with a positive outcome. "I think this has been a wonderful transition," Schuman said. "It was amazingly hard to bring about. I would say it took by far the largest part of my time for about a year, but now that it has happened, almost everyone agrees it was a great move."
UMM students have left their mark in Schuman's memory and in his heart. "I have said before, and am delighted to repeat, that UMM students are, to me, the best I have encountered, including my days as a student, and later as a teacher and as an administrator. There are many splendid things about UMM and its people, but for me, the single best thing about our college is our students. They are bright, hard working, open, responsible, dizzyingly engaging. I love 'em."
Schuman's first stop after he steps down as chancellor will be Albuquerque, where he will serve as the University of New Mexico's Garrey Carruthers Chair in Honors Visiting Distinguished Professor in the University Honors Program. The author of several books, Schuman also plans to write more as he returns full-time to the faculty.
Jacqueline Johnson has been named UMM's new chancellor and will take over beginning August 1. For more information, see Incoming chancellor.