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A detail of the proposed Bell Museum of Natural History that shows yellow stone and glass walls on the north side.

Schematic plans for the new Bell Museum of Natural History were reviewed by the Board of Regents Facilities Committee May 10, 2007. The museum is part of the ongoing six-year capital plan, approved by the full board the next day. This detail by Thorbeck Architects/ESG Architects shows part of the south face.

Creating the best places to learn and work

Regents approve six-year capital plan

By Gayla Marty

Brief, May 16, 2007

When the Board of Regents approved the University-wide six-year capital improvement plan May 11, 2007, they saw a plan firmly aligned with strategic goals and principles now well established.

"Eighty percent of capital planning is really academic planning," said associate vice president Robert Kvavik, presenting the plan with president Robert Bruininks, vice president for university services Kathleen O'Brien, and vice president for budget and finance Richard Pfutzenreuter. "This plan moves us to the forefront nationally in the creation of modern learning spaces."

"This is potentially one of the most exciting building projects I've seen in almost 40 years that I've been at the University," Kvavik told the board in describing plans for the Science Teaching and Student Services Building near the east end of the Washington Avenue bridge and Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. "I'm hopeful that, when this building is done, it will be one of the first places our admissions director will take students, and when they see this facility, their first reaction will be, 'This is where I want to learn science.'"

The plan envisions classrooms and buildings transformed from lecture halls to places for learning by doing--space flexible enough to be modified for new purposes within days.

Board of Regents policy directs the administration to develop a capital budget with a six-year horizon, updated annually. The rolling plan helps to guide capital budget requests and financial planning. The plan was reviewed in detail at the last regents meeting in March in preparation for the vote. It includes descriptions of items anticipated for the 2008, 2010, and 2012 state capital requests as well as potential federally funded projects, non-state-funded projects, and projects in the earliest stages of planning and development.

The board then previewed the annual capital improvement budget for fiscal year 2008, which will come for a vote in June.

Reports to the full board

Also on Friday, President Bruininks reported on the large number of national and international awards won by faculty and students this year: four Guggenheims, three elections to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one to the National Academy of Sciences, a Wolf Prize in Agriculture, and Rhodes and Truman Scholars, among many others.

President Bruininks outlined a tuition reform package that could be unveiled at the June meeting. It includes increased financial support for low- and middle-income students, changes in reciprocity with Wisconsin, lowering nonresident tuition on the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, and establishing 13-credit bands on the Crookston and Morris campuses--essentially making all credits over 13 free, which would effectively lower tuition at Morris by about 10 percent.

The 2006-07 student representatives to the Board of Regents gave the second of their two reports of the year to the full board on Friday. They identified three issues of multi-campus and board-level concern: laptops in the classroom, student retention, and tuition reciprocity. The report is published in the docket along with campus-specific reports. The seven student representatives from all the U campuses, both undergraduate and graduate students, were honored at a Thursday luncheon.

Committee meeting highlights

On Thursday, the Faculty, Staff, and Student Affairs Committee reviewed changes proposed for regents policy on faculty tenure, which will come before the full board for a vote in June.

"We think today's recommendation to you is historic," said vice provost for faculty and academic affairs Arlene Carney. She cited the faculty senate's unanimous approval of the changes in April after three years of work by committees and a strategic positioning task force.

Proposed changes will make the tenure process more rigorous, improve work/life balance, and positively recognize interdisciplinary work, public engagement, international activities and initiatives, attention to questions of diversity, and technology transfer.

"I'd like to congratulate all of you for your work on this," Regent Larson responded, "not only that there is leadership but that there's ownership. I find that to be energizing." The University's system of shared governance is "going to be a competitive advantage," he added. The Educational Policy and Planning Committee heard an in-depth report on graduate education from Gail Dubrow, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost. She identified key challenges, including financial support for students, identifying ways to improve time-to-degree that are appropriate for various disciplines and are family-friendly, supporting interdisciplinary work, developing qualitative as well as quantitative benchmarks to measure excellence, and attracting top global talent.

"When you're talking about top three globally, you have to go beyond the state and region," said Dubrow. "It's appropriate to talk about attracting top talent in the world--including homegrown talent--because homegrown talent is getting offers from everyone else, too, and we have the advantage that they are more familiar with what is distinctive about our excellent education."

The committee also heard strategic positioning updates on UMD from chancellor Kathryn Martin and on Rochester from provost David Carl.

The Audit Committee heard a report on U-wide emergency preparedness from Vice President O'Brien. Discussion led to a request for a follow-up with a focus on prevention.

The Facilities Committee viewed preliminary designs for the new Bell Museum of Natural History, planned for an area just southwest of the intersection of Cleveland and Larpenteur avenues near the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul. The committee also got an update on light-rail transit and discussed principles to guide its development through the Twin Cities campus.

The Finance and Operations Committee got a project update on the Enterprise Financial System, which is on schedule to go live in July 2008. The functional design phase was completed March 30, and the technical design phase is now in progress, with a completion date of July 20, 2007; the building (coding) phase is scheduled to be done Nov. 2.

For more information about the May 2007 meetings, see the docket materials and video and audio streams of the May 11 meeting. See also the 2006-07 schedule, with links to related materials.

To view the six-year capital plan, follow the link to the docket, above, and see Board of Regents Meeting, May 11, 2007, pp. 23-35. For the report of the student representatives, see pp. 75-82.

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