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Feature

The regents seal

At its March meeting, the Board of Regents approved a salary increase for President Bruininks and committed the U to furthering higher education in Rochester, among other things.

Regents approve biomedical initiative to move the U among the top 3 public resea

March 14, 2006

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents received an update on the University's progress toward becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world and approved a resolution to move forward on a key biomedical initiative that could help the University achieve that goal.

"You must build on the strengths that you have," Provost Tom Sullivan told the board in outlining key areas where the U can work to "improve the human condition."

Those include biofuels research, neuroscience breakthroughs, advancing biomedical technology, sustaining the environment, food science solutions, and addressing societal and cultural issues, Sullivan said.

To advance this research, the board unanimously approved a resolution that calls on the Minnesota State Legislature to create a new way to finance expensive biomedical facilities.

The measure asks the legislature to create the Minnesota Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority and includes a request for $330 million in state bonds to construct five new research facilities over the next decade.

"This is important to the U, but it's also more important to the state of Minnesota than probably anything else we do," said Regent John Frobenius.

The proposal would take these types of requests out of the state's normal bonding cycle, where projects from across Minnesota compete against each other for funding.

U's Twin Cities campus is sixth in key rankings

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has improved in five key indicators in a respected national ranking in which it tied for sixth in the country among public research universities, President Robert Bruininks told regents on Friday. The annual rankings for 2005, just released by the University of Florida, are considered one of the most reliable academically based rankings of American research universities.

"This year's rankings show that we're well positioned to improve the quality and performance of the University," Bruininks said. "In five of the nine key indicators, our ranking improved. Although there is no single ranking system that tells the complete story, this improvement is good news for the University of Minnesota."

The University increased its standing from the 2004 report in five areas: faculty awards, doctorates granted, annual giving, National Academy members, and SAT/ACT range.

The authority would allow the University to hire 50 new researchers per year to conduct life-saving research in the new facilities.

Strategic positioning Sullivan also reported that 11 of the 34 strategic positioning task forces have made their final recommendations. Out of these recommendations came the names--which the board approved--of two new colleges: the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the College of Design. The third new collegiate entity will be called the College of Education and Human Development, an existing college name. A new department in that college, the Department of Post-Secondary Teaching and Learning, will house programs from General College.

Chancellors Charles Casey from Crookston and Sam Schuman from Morris updated the Educational Planning and Policy committee on strategic positioning efforts on their campuses. They said enrollment is being affected by declining regional populations and described measures being taken to reverse the trend. The number of admitted students is up this year from last year at both schools. Schuman, who will step down as Morris's chancellor on June 30, told the regents about two initiatives that hold promise: sustainable energy and international programs.

Strategic positioning recommendations for all the coordinate campuses are due March 31.

Top faculty The board acknowledged the University's newest Regents Professor, Apostolos Georgopoulos. The professor of neuroscience, neurology, physiology, and psychiatry joined the University faculty in 1991 and also directs the Brain Science Center at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Hospital.

Georgopoulos leads research in an area that involves at least 20 departments, President Robert Bruininks said, which seeks to understand the neural basis of conceiving and planning bodily movements. The designation of Regents Professor is the highest level of recognition given by the University.

The board also recognized 10 McKnight Land-Grant Professors for 2006-2008. Awarded by the Office of the Provost and the Graduate School, these honors acknowledge and support the University's most promising junior faculty at a crucial time in their professional careers. They receive research grants in each of two years and a research leave in the second year.

The professors are Demoz Gebre-Egziabher, aerospace engineering and mechanics; Yongdae Kim, computer science and engineering; Efie Kokkoli, chemical engineering and materials science; Ronald Krebs, political science; Angus MacDonald III, psychology; Steven Manson, geography; David Rapp, educational psychology; Stergios Roumeliotis, computer science and engineering; Mark Thomas, neuroscience; and Cynthia Weinig, plant biology.

Rochester On the docket for a vote was a resolution in support of a recommendation to expand higher education in Rochester developed by a special advisory task force appointed by the governor last year. The resolution calls for a strong University presence in Rochester, especially in areas of research, technology transfer, advanced education, and outreach programs, and emphasizes the contribution the U would make to the economic growth of the area.

Board members affirmed the University's lead role in the development of additional higher education programming in Rochester but added that new resources must be provided for the expansion so it doesn't come at the expense of current University campuses, colleges, and programs.

Bruininks's salary The board also agreed to raise President Robert Bruininks's base salary by 5 percent for each of the next two years: to $365,925 for 2005-06 and $384,212 in 2006-07. Bruininks' deferred compensation will also increase by $25,000 for each of the remaining years of the contract, which expires on June 30, 2008.

"This has been a time of bold and decisive leadership at the University in large part because of the performance of President Bruininks," said Board of Regents chair Anthony Baraga. "The compensation changes approved today are recognition of that leadership--and an important step in remaining competitive with comparable universities."

Bruininks's raise will put him eighth in the Big Ten in terms of base salary and fifth when deferred compensation is factored in. Deferred compensation, which is payable upon completion of the contract, is a common way to encourage retention.

"I've been around this university for more than 40 years and have seen a lot of presidents," Regent David Metzen added. "In my judgment, President Bruininks will go down as one of the best."

The next meeting of the Board of Regents is scheduled for May 11-12, 2006. More information on the board can be found on its Web site.