By Paul Moore
From eNews, April 1, 2004
Anyone who's associated with the University of Minnesota knows what a valuable resource it is for the state of Minnesota. But it never hurts to hear it from the guy running the place-especially if you live in parts of the state that don't always get a lot of attention. That's why President Bob Bruininks has been hitting the road since last fall, reminding people in the outer suburbs and greater Minnesota that the U is so much more than just the Twin Cities campus. "Our goal is to give President Bruininks a chance to share his vision for the University and better understand the needs of Minnesota's communities" says Ann Kirby McGill, the University's director of constituent relations who coordinates the community visits. "Plus, he really enjoys connecting with people, and communities are always happy to host the president and talk about what the University means to them." This month Bruininks will be visiting the White Bear Lake area (Tuesday, April 13, at noon in the Country Inn), St. Cloud (Tuesday, April 27, at noon in the Radisson Hotel), and Dakota County (Wednesday, April 28, at noon in the Royal Cliff Conference Center). Several more visits over the next 18 months are in the works. No matter where he goes, the current legislative situation is always at the top of Bruininks' agenda. That means that this month he will focus on the U's capital request. This year, the University requested $155.5 million from the state for building and other improvements on all campuses. While Gov. Tim Pawlenty recommended the University receive less than half of that amount, things are looking a bit brighter as the House and Senate move toward a final decision. The Senate Higher Education Budget Division has recommended the University receive the full amount, with the House Higher Education Finance Committee recommending $149 million. The legislature is expected to make a final decision on the U's bonding request before the end of the 2004 legislative session May 17. To learn more about the University's 2004 capital request, see www.umn.edu/govrel. For information about how you can contact your legislators directly, go to the University's District Finder.