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Vol. XLII No. 34; October 31, 2012
Editor: Adam Overland,

For additional news and information, see the Faculty and Staff views of the U homepage.

Inside This Issue
--Election Day is Nov. 6.
--Features: Sinking teeth into rural Minnesota; Unraveling a mystery; In search of 'greener' grass; This Week @Minnesota.
--People: Brian Herman has been named the U's next vice president for research; and more.

University News and Events
Top News | University-wide | Crookston | Duluth | Morris | Rochester | Twin Cities


ELECTION DAY IS NOV. 6 and the U encourages everyone to vote. High voter turnout and long lines at the polls are expected, so please plan accordingly. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Minnesota Statute 204C.04 allows for employees to be absent from work on Election Day for the time necessary to vote. If you think you may miss work, be sure to let your supervisor know ahead of time. To find out where your polling place is located or how to register to vote on Election Day, see Minnesota Secretary of State Voter Information.


FEATURE: For the last eight years, the U's School of Dentistry has been tackling the challenge of access to dental care in underserved communities through a variety of creative strategies. The approach involves both providing care for patients and adapting dental education in response to workforce needs and changes in the dental care delivery system. One key in addressing the rural access challenge has been positioning students in rural areas so that they get firsthand experience with underserved communities before graduation. For more information, read "Sinking teeth into rural Minnesota."

FEATURE: Margaret Semrud-Clikeman sees the pain and frustration often when she works with children who have autism spectrum disorders or other nonverbal learning disabilities. The preteens and teens participating in her studies often blame themselves for their outbursts, peer clashes, and trouble making friends—their difficulty in controlling their emotions in general. Over the summer, those kids got a whole new perspective on their behavior from functional MRI brain scans taken by Semrud-Clikeman, who directs the U's Division of Behavioral Neuroscience, where U researchers are looking for answers on the anatomy, early diagnosis, and prevalence of autism spectrum disorders. For more information, read "Unraveling a mystery."

FEATURE: The summer and fall of 2012 have not been kind to grass, but new research by U scientists could lead to more sustainable and drought-resistant turf grasses—for both home lawns and public spaces—that also require less effort and "inputs" (water and fertilizer) to maintain. For more information, read "In search of 'greener' grass."

THIS WEEK @MINNESOTA: Oct. 22–26. In this episode of the weekly video feature, food is on the mind. We visit the second annual Food Day expo, and learn how U of M's Extension is partnering with the community to provide basic nutrition information to those with limited incomes. For more information, watch "This Week @Minnesota."

Awards, appointments, and other announcements

PEOPLE: Brian Herman has been named the U's next vice president for research; Professor David Largaespada has been named an American Cancer Society Research Professor for his contribution to the field of cancer research; Elizabeth Nelson, office manager in TRiO Upward Bound, has received the 2012 University Women of Color Tapestry Award; Nicole Letawsky Shultz has received the Outstanding Advising Administrator Award from National Association of Academic Advisors; Nicki Crick, McKnight-University Professor and Harris Professor of Child Psychology, passed away Oct. 28 following a brief but courageous battle with cancer; U in the news includes highlights of Today's News, which features U faculty and staff cited in the media daily. Read about these topics and more in People.



Administrative information

OPEN ENROLLMENT IS NOV. 1–30. Enroll online starting Nov. 1 at Employee Self-Service; you must make your election by Nov. 30. If you are satisfied with your medical and dental plan choices, you do not need to re-enroll, and your current plans will continue into 2013. However, if you wish to have a flexible spending account in 2013, you must enroll during Open Enrollment. You can increase the amount of your existing short-term disability by up to $200 without medical evidence of insurability, and, if eligible, you can enroll in or increase the amount of long-term disability. For more information, see the online benefits guide and narrated workshop. Call the Employee Benefits Service Center at 612-624-9090 or 1-800-756-2363, Option 2, with specific questions about Open Enrollment.

THE GLOBAL PROGRAMS AND STRATEGY ALLIANCE has announced the next theme for its Global Spotlight, a biennial focus on a region of the world and a pressing global issue. During 2012–14, the Global Spotlight focus will be on South Asia and Global Food Security. Global Spotlight will sponsor events and activities related to South Asia and global food, and offer grants to support faculty and graduate student research related to the themes. All units systemwide are encouraged to incorporate Global Spotlight themes into their events and programs. The initiative will be led by Karen Brown, assistant vice president for international scholarship. For more information, see Global Spotlight.


AN ESSAY BY RACHEL McCOPPIN, associate professor in the Liberal Arts and Education Department, is included in a new book on Edgar Allan Poe entitled Adapting Poe: Re-Imaginings in Popular Culture. The essay, "Horrific Obsessions: Poe's Legacy of the Unreliable Narrator," focuses on Poe's narrators in some of his most famous stories. For more information, see Edgar Allan Poe.

A CERTIFICATE OF TAXATION is now available for students interested in advancing as tax professionals. The certificate, offered through the Business Department, is available to students both on campus and online. For more information, see taxation certificate.

THE MID-AMERICA COLLEGIATE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY CONFERENCE was recently held at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. Placing second overall, the UMC team consisted of four juniors all majoring in horticulture. The teams competed in the areas of plant judging, plant identification, and a general knowledge examination. This year's competition included teams from UMC, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Iowa State University, North Dakota State University, Northwest Missouri State, and Western Illinois University. For more information, see horticultural conference.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. will speak Nov. 9, 7 p.m., UMD Marshall Performing Arts Center. His talk, "Our Environmental Destiny," will examine fresh water and the environment. UMD student tickets are free. For more information, see Kennedy lecture.

VOTE FOR BOB NIELSON in the 2012 Liberty Mutual "Coach of the Year" contest and watch this brief video meme about him, "the most amazing coach in the world."


BECCA GERCKEN, associate professor of English and American Indian studies, has been named the first UMM "Founders Scholar." The Founders Fund was established with gifts from a private donor in honor of UMM's founding faculty members. Founders Scholar projects reflect, question, challenge, investigate, or advocate for UMM's public liberal arts mission. Professor Gercken's project involves research that investigates the trajectory of UMM's mission from Indian boarding school to public liberal arts university.

"CLEAN ENERGY IN OUR COMMUNITY: UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MORRIS," a video recently produced by UMM for the Department of Energy, was named "Best Promotional Video" by the Consortium of College and University Media Centers. The video was produced by Roger Boleman and Mike Cihak, director and assistant director, respectively, of Instructional and Media Technologies. It was written by David Ericksen, assistant professor of English. For more information, see Clean Energy.

SAMUEL GOCKEL '13, Saint Paul, was recently awarded a GlaxoSmithKlein fellowship. The highly competitive award provides funding for undergraduate research in synthetic organic and/or analytical chemistry. The fellowship is designed to encourage deserving undergraduate students to consider a career in chemistry, and is awarded to five applicants annually. Gockel's research focused on the creation of a molecule for use in therapeutic drugs—one that produces less waste and uses fewer resources. For more information, see Samuel Gockel.


THE LOCAL COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP FELLOWS PROGRAM, a partnership of the University of Minnesota Rochester, Winona State University, and Rochester Community and Technical College, sets its targets on solving community problems. For more information, see Rochester Post-Bulletin.


Administrative information

THE 2012 COMMUNITY FUND DRIVE HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL NOV. 4. Pledge online to one of the seven federations or any of more than 400 organizations that are part of the 2012 campaign, or choose your own charity. As of Oct. 30, University faculty and staff have pledged more than $1,100,000, with a participation rate of 27 percent (the goal is 40 percent). For more information, including unit participation rates, see Community Fund Drive.

A NEW PHONE AND WEB CONFERENCING TOOL is planned as use of the U's existing conferencing tool, Gopher Conferencing, has increased dramatically since the beginning of the fall semester and is nearing capacity. Voice Network Services is planning to upgrade to a new application in the upcoming months. For more information, see phone and web conferencing. Questions or comments should be directed to technology help at 612-301-4357 (1-HELP on campus) or

A PROJECT UPDATE on the Combined Heat and Power Plant for the UMTC campus will be presented Nov. 15, 5 p.m. The University of Minnesota is planning to reinvest in steam and electrical power operations at the "Old Main" facility on the East Bank campus. The plant will use natural gas to co-generate steam heat and electrical power, reducing UMTC's carbon footprint by 10 percent, for a savings of nearly $2 million annually. Register for the event online, or see power plant for more information.

CALL FOR PROGRAMS: THE U's FOCUSING ON THE FIRST YEAR CONFERENCE is seeking program proposals that will help the University community learn more about the first-year experience and student engagement. Presentations and poster sessions may include specific campus topics, innovative programs, national trends, cross-campus collaborations, assessment results, or theoretical frameworks relating to work with first-year students. Proposals are due Nov. 15. The event takes place Feb. 13, Coffman Union. Registration will begin Dec. 3. For more information, see First-Year Conference.

Lectures, exhibits, and other events

THE ENGAGEMENT ACADEMY FOR UNIVERSITY LEADERS will be hosted for the first time by the U of M Oct. 31–Nov. 2, University Hotel. This national institute for higher education administrators of community engagement initiatives will convene more than 100 leaders from the U and other institutions who are working to further the institutionalization of public engagement at their home campuses. Nationally recognized faculty members Barbara Holland, Judith Ramaley, Lorilee Sandmann, and David Weerts will facilitate. Organized by the Office for Public Engagement, Minnesota Campus Compact, and the Virginia Tech Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement. For more information, see engagement.

"TOWARD ACTIVE TRANSPORT IN MINNESOTA: Insights and Ideas From a Statewide Survey," a Frontiers in the Environment lecture by Ingrid Schneider, professor in the Department of Forest Resources, and director of the University of Minnesota Tourism Center, will explore differences in perceived bike safety and transportation attributes among three types of commuters, and suggest ways to increase and promote bicycle commuting. Oct. 31, noon, live online and at R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul. Frontiers in the Environment lectures take place each Wednesday at noon. For more information, see Frontiers.

FACULTY AND STAFF WORKING WITH GRADUATE STUDENTS as advisers or mentors are invited to attend "Supporting Graduate Student and Postdoc Career Planning: A Workshop for Advisers and Mentors." The workshop will focus on sharing information, strategies, and resources related to academic and non-academic career planning processes and job search practices. Nov. 6, noon–1:30 p.m., 319 Akerman Hall. Register online at workshop.

SENSE OF PLACE IN ARTIST BOOKS, a panel discussion with Sarah Bodman, Betty Bright, Jeff Rathermel, and Marianne Coombs, will take place Nov. 7, 6–7:30 p.m., 125 Nolte. Free and open to the public. For more information, see U Libraries.

ADOLESCENT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT studies have influenced debates on such issues as the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty and whether minors need parental consent to get an abortion. The lecture, "Should the Science of Adolescent Brain Development Inform Legal Policy?" with Laurence Steinberg, Temple University's Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology, will take place Nov. 15, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Coffman Union Theater. For registration and more information, see brain development.

HOMECOMING 2013 THEME SUBMISSIONS are due by the end of the day Oct. 31. Submit ideas for the Homecoming 2013 theme now at

MORE EVENTS include Harry Potter Halloween Colloquium (Oct. 31); An Evening with Lynne Rossetto Kasper (Nov. 1); Encore Transitions: Aging Well, Being Well (Nov. 2); shadows traces undercurrents (Nov. 3); Sex, Lies, & Paradise (Nov. 5); What Happened on Tuesday? A Post-election Analysis (Nov. 7); SEE THESE AND MORE TWIN CITIES CAMPUS EVENTS.

UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS: Golden Gophers | UMD Bulldogs | UMM Cougars | UMC Golden Eagles

Brief is the official University of Minnesota staff and faculty weekly news digest, featuring human resource, employee benefit, administrative, legislative, budgetary, event, and other pertinent information.

Published by Internal Communications in the Office of University Relations at the University of Minnesota. Please send comments, questions, or submissions to the editor at The deadline for submissions is noon on the Friday before publication. Submission guidelines are available online.

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