University of Minnesota
May 15, 2012
At the May 11 meeting of the Board of Regents, President Kaler updated the board on how he's spent his first 11 months on the job. In short, he's been busy. Kaler has taken part in 21 U-wide staff sessions with P&A, Civil Service, and bargaining unit employees; 21 department visits; 50 faculty-related events; 60 student events; and visits to each statewide campus and a half-dozen Extension offices and Research and Outreach Centers. Coupled with 60 meetings with CEOs and business groups, the president assured the board he's been pursuing his priorities; namely, to address student access and affordability; to intensify advocacy, to raise significant private philanthropy; and to maximize operational efficiency by trimming administrative costs.
President Kaler also spoke about the U's advocacy efforts and work with the governor and state legislature. He called the recently passed bonding bill "far better than we expected earlier in the session," referring to late-in-the-session increases of HEAPR funding by $10 million, and $10 million in funding for the first phase of Combined Heat and Power Plant, which fuels the Twin Cities campus. Kaler credited the work of the Office of Government and Community Relations and the U's strong and growing advocacy network, as well as the governor and legislators who reached across the aisle and "worked tirelessly to invest in their state's only comprehensive research university."
The president also updated the board on his "operational excellence" initiative—a key priority, which he believes could drive substantial cost savings. Kaler called the initiative a long-term commitment to working smarter, reducing costs, enhancing services, and increasing revenues throughout the University. It includes a variety of integrated activities with the collective goal of mitigating the impact of state budget reductions and keeping tuition increases low; improving operations and processes; promoting entrepreneurship, intelligent risk-taking, cooperation, and engagement; and freeing up dollars to be reinvested in the core academic enterprise. He offered the board one simple and humorous example of that work: 5.3 million voicemails a year are left on the U phone system. The Office of Information Technology recently shortened the automatic voicemail instructions by 15 seconds—saving 22,000 hours per year. For more information, see Operational Excellence. See the President's complete remarks to the board.
President's FY2013 Budget Proposal
President Kaler also provided the board with his proposed $3.5 billion FY2013 operating budget. For students, the budget holds tuition increases to 3.5 percent for Minnesota undergraduates, the lowest increase in more than a decade. In addition, the modest tuition increase will be offset by an additional $2.3 million in need-based aid, gained by restructuring the Promise Scholarship program. This will result in a 14 percent increase in the scholarships, which are awarded to students with low family incomes. This will reduce the impact of the tuition increase for approximately 11,000 students, while 2,000 students will see no increase at all. The budget also calls for an additional $2.8 million for merit-based aid to attract top students from Minnesota and the region.
The president's budget reinvests in academic initiatives
The budget also contains good news for faculty and staff. It invests $4 million in faculty hires and an additional $7 million in new faculty positions across 11 schools, colleges, and campuses, and includes two new investment pools: $3 million for a Research Infrastructure Fund, and $1 million for an Instructional Technology Fund, both of which the president hopes to fund on a recurring basis, he said.
Kaler also proposed a 2.5 percent pay increase across all employee groups, which comes after three years of wage freezes and furloughs. Under the plan, all P&A, Civil Service, and faculty will receive a $500 increase to their base salary. The remaining 2.5 percent will be distributed according to merit.
"I've been urged to do this by a variety of governance groups across campus and I think it's the right thing to do. For our lowest paid employees, $500 will be a substantial step toward covering the health benefit costs that we shifted last year. I am, however, profoundly aware of the need for salary to be allocated according to merit, and so the remainder of the 2.5 percent will be allocated strictly on the basis of merit to award our most dedicated and successful employees," the president said.
If approved, salary increases for employee groups would be effective June 18, 2012, and will appear on paychecks beginning July 11. For more information, see FY'13 Compensation Plan for Faculty, P&A, and Civil Service. See "U eases budget burden" for more information about the president's proposed budget.
U Libraries: Beyond Books
Great universities have great libraries, and libraries are changing, largely due to our increasingly digital world, said Provost Karen Hanson introducing University Librarian Wendy Pradt Lougee, who presented on the research university in the 21st century to the Educational Planning and Policy Committee.
The University Libraries share the campus mission of creating, sharing, and preserving knowledge, but forces are converging to transform the classic roles of research libraries—developing collections, providing access to content, and helping users with their research—Lougee told the committee.
New research and learning strategies have prompted the Libraries to acquire and manage new types of content, with a decided trend toward digital resources. Fifty-eight percent of U Libraries expenditures are now for digital resources. New technologies have changed how users find information, requiring development of infrastructure for long-term access to both distributed content and local collections. At the same time, the U has the 16th largest research library in North America with more than 7 million volumes. "So the demise of print is not going to happen anytime soon," said Lougee.
As these classic roles evolve, so are the Libraries evolving, from a local provider of content to a critical player in a global knowledge management system. One example: the U is one of 63 institutions collaborating in a shared infrastructure of digital copies of print volumes for digital preservation called the HathiTrust.
Locally, the Libraries are working with campus partners to integrate content, services, and expertise where research, teaching, and learning happen. And they are working with other libraries to build a common infrastructure for information access, delivery, and preservation.
Ambulatory Care Clinic
The Board of Regents reviewed and unanimously approved a resolution allowing President Kaler to sign two letters of intent between the University, University of Minnesota Physicians, and Fairview Health Services. The letters propose construction of a new Ambulatory Care Center, which would house patient clinics for use by University of Minnesota Physicians, U medical students, and Fairview Health Services and would replace outdated clinic space located in the Phillips-Wangensteen Building, which was built in 1974 and based on a design from the 1960s.
The current facilities now handle more than 420,000 visits per year, three times the originally projected patient volume. U Physicians expects the number of visits to continue to grow at 2 percent per year for the next 10 years. The proposed four-story building would be slightly more than 305,000 square feet and would accommodate all current clinics, with room for growth. Parking would be adjacent to the Oak Street Ramp. The building's location just off of I-94, bordered by Fulton and Essex Streets and Erie and Ontario Avenues, would vastly improve patient access.
Construction would begin in fall 2013, with the facility slated to open in January 2016.
Human Resources: Strategic Directions
Vice President of Human Resources Kathy Brown spoke about the transformation taking place in the Office of Human Resources (OHR). To align with its newly framed mission—to strategically lead and partner with the community to provide a diverse workforce and organizational capabilities that drive excellence at the University—the office is increasing its HR expertise and adding teams to optimize delivery of HR services. Several initiatives are underway to redefine and simplify HR work in order to empower faculty and staff to more effectively deliver on the University's mission. One primary initiative with broad opportunity and impact is the upgrade of the Human Resources Management System. OHR has begun a comprehensive review of policies and business practices to prepare for the upgrade, and has launched an interdisciplinary functional steering committee to help guide this work. View the full presentation to the board online (PDF).
Other Board News
The board approved a motion for President Kaler to sign a Letter of Intent to open TCF Bank Stadium to use by the Minnesota Vikings during construction of a new stadium at the current Metrodome site.
The board reviewed the 2013 Annual Capital Improvement Budget, which would authorize projects totaling $375.7 million to begin design or construction during the next fiscal year—about 67 percent of which would be paid for by the U and 33 percent of which would require state-supported capital investments. The board will act on the budget at its June 8 meeting.
Newly elected Regent Thomas Devine was sworn in.
Norwood Teague was approved as next director of Gopher Athletics. He begins June 18.
The board recognized numerous award winners, including recipients of the Distinguished McKnight University Professorship Awards, the Morse Alumni Awards and Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education Awards, the John Tate Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, the Josie R. Johnson Award for Human Rights and Social Justice, the Outstanding Community Service Awards, the President's Award for Outstanding Community Service, National Scholarship Recipients, NCAA Champions, and the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Recipient.
More information about each of the award recipients can be found in the monthly archives of the People section of Brief, featured throughout 2011–12 as the awards were announced.
For more information, see the May 2012 docket materials.