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President Robert Bruininks

Robert Bruininks became president of the University in November of 2002 and on April 5 delivered his fifth State of the U address.

Bruininks delivers State of the U for 2007

By Rick Moore

April 6, 2007; updated April 10, 2007

President Robert Bruininks delivered his fifth State of the U address on April 5 at the Coffman Union Theater on the Twin Cities campus, and he used the address to highlight some of the many achievements made across the University system since the strategic positioning initiative was launched two years ago.

The goal of that initiative, to become one of the top three public research universities in the world, is designed to urge all U campuses to live up to their heritage of achievement and public responsibility, he said.

"The good news is that this goal is now well established," Bruininks said. "All of you know it, our supporters are drawn to it, and our peers are taking notice. 'Top three' is aspirational and audacious, but that's not to say it can't be achieved.

Listen to the State of the U

To view, listen to, or read the 2007 State of the U address, visit the Office of the President Web page.

"We must continue to set aggressive goals in critical areas of academic responsibility and to truly measure what we value, but we must not get caught up in rankings or begin 'teaching to the test.' We aspire not to ranking, but to stature--and achieving this aspiration requires a deep and abiding cultural commitment to excellence in everything we do, from the education of our students to advancement of knowledge for the public good."

Statewide, the U's five campuses and their students are flourishing. The University of Minnesota, Crookston continues to lead the system in online education, Bruininks noted, and recently received the maximum 10-year accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

At UMD, the Sieur Du Luth Summer Arts Festival has become internationally known for its opera program, with some 120 participants registered this year from Mexico, Europe, and Asia. This fall, Duluth will launch its first-ever doctoral degree, in education.

"We aspire not to ranking, but to stature--and achieving this aspiration requires a deep and abiding cultural commitment to excellence in everything we do, from the education of our students to advancement of knowledge for the public good," Bruininks said.

On the Morris campus, student Eagan Heath was recently named a 2007 Truman Scholar, Bruininks said, and last fall, UMM's Center for Small Towns and the city of Morris received a national Carter Center Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration.

And the University of Minnesota, Rochester continues to expand its academic footprint to meet the education and research needs of southeast Minnesota, building on the U's relationships with Rochester Community and Technical College and Winona State University and its partnership with the Mayo Clinic. Bruininks praised the Rochester community for a recent vote to devote funds in support of the University campus there.

Partnerships and interdisciplinary efforts will define the University of Minnesota in the future, Bruininks said. Being a national leader in many fields will feed directly into the U's efforts to foster new collaborations through centers and institutes such as the Institute on the Environment, the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth, the Institute for Translational Neuroscience, the Institute for the Advancement of Science and Technology, and the Institute for Advanced Study.

Bruininks also listed several new strategies for ensuring greater student success and higher graduation rates, as well as ongoing efforts designed to improve service and productivity across the University of Minnesota system.

Throughout the address, Bruininks recognized the hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity of staff and faculty members over the first two years of the strategic positioning effort, citing examples from academic departments as well as administration and facilities.

Despite many recent successes, the U's path forward is not without obstacles, Bruininks noted.

AN INSCRIPTION
FOR THE AGES


Bruininks invoked the inscription on the front of Northrop Memorial Auditorium on the Twin Cities campus, set in stone in 1936, as a continuing inspiration:

The University of Minnesota

Founded in the faith that men are ennobled by understanding

Dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth

Devoted to the instruction of youth and the welfare of the state

"All of our aspirations are contingent upon two resources: persistence and funding," he said. "I rank persistence first, most obviously because in this regard we control our own destiny. It is only fair that an institution committed to responsible stewardship would expect to be held accountable by the state and the public. We've identified important strategies that support our view of excellence, but we cannot expect continued investment without continuing reform.

"Two years ago, I said that Minnesota needs a great research university, and this University truly needs the state of Minnesota," Bruininks added. "I also said that strategic positioning would provide the basis for change and a commitment to excellence worthy of our heritage and our future.

"The inscription on Northrop (right) captures this beautifully: It expresses the spirit of a great University, its commitment to excellence, and its service to the greater good. It's a tremendous vision, and I'm humbled by your efforts to attain it--but we clearly still have more work to do."

FURTHER READING

"U of M President Bruininks praises Rochester City Council for support of higher education," April 6, 2007 "A sea change in campus culture: New initiatives put undergraduates in the spotlight--and the driver's seat," March 30, 2007