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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
February 14, 2005
Volume 40, Number 7

‘Academic clusters’ future of UNM
Community input next step in crafting direction


By Karen Wentworth

FosterIs it possible to deliberately create pools of academic excellence around which the university can build its future?

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Brian Foster believes it is not only possible, but necessary.

“More than a year ago, faculty members began submitting ideas about how to nurture areas of distinction,” Foster said. “Now it is time to take those ideas and craft them into exciting foci for UNM’s future academic direction.”

Over the next two months, Foster will sponsor a series of forums to examine eight cluster ideas, developed by a task force after extensive review of 68 submissions prepared by faculty.

Foster expects perhaps three or four cluster proposals will emerge as the foundation for UNM’s academic distinction.

Supporters of areas of distinction emerging from the process will devise a business plan. The university, as an institution, will then begin to develop organizational and resource strategies for becoming the best in these areas in the United States.

The forums provide an opportunity for faculty, staff, students and community members to have a voice in the future of excellence at the university.

“The next two months are when to get a piece of the action. This is creative, exciting and challenging,” Foster said. “It’s what the highest level of academic work is all about.”

Foster has divided areas of distinction into the following eight cluster groups:

Cluster 1: Health care, health science and public health; health disparities and related disparities such as education and wealth.

Cluster 2: Ethics and diversity, and the ways they connect to health, environment and economic development. Applied ethics and moral environments.

Cluster 3: Imaging/visualization, nanotechnologies and application of these technologies; and social, economic and other implications for these potentially disruptive
scientific advances.

Cluster 4: Social and behavioral dynamics.

Cluster 5: Economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability, including interrelationships. Diversity as an element of sustainability.

Cluster 6: Policy making and studies and ways they impact education, health behavior changes, cultural and environmental sustainability and culture and science projects.

Cluster 7: Arts, including arts in innovative science and engineering, Southwest and American studies, education, and cultural and environmental sustainability.

Cluster 8: The core of this cluster is the American Southwest, with close connections to Latin America.

The Areas of Distinction Task Force is seeking lively, broad campus discussion about this important university initiative.
Specific times and places for the cluster discussions, background material, including input, and task force information can be found on the UNM Integrated Strategic Cluster Web site, www.unm.edu/~clusters.