myU OneStop

What's Inside

Related Links

Home > Brief > Brief (1-12-2011)  Print

Vol. XLI No. 1; January 12, 2011
Editor: Adam Overland,

Inside This Issue
--Presidential transition update.
--Federal and state relations updates.
--2011 Legislative Briefing takes place Jan. 19.
--Feature: From sunlight to synfuels; U of M Moment.
--People: Governor Mark Dayton named Boynton Health Service director Ed Ehlinger as his commissioner of health; and more.

University News and Events
Top News | University-wide | Crookston | Duluth | Morris | Rochester | Twin Cities


PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION UPDATE: Late last year, the Board of Regents named a presidential transition committee charged with implementing an orderly and smooth transition between President Bruininks and his successor. The committee will provide regular updates to the University community about the transition. President Bruininks’s term will end June 30. All executive decisions will continue to be made by President Bruininks and his executive team until President-Designate Kaler assumes his responsibilities on July 1. Bruininks and Kaler have begun regular discussions, and these will continue over the coming months. Kaler has visited the U twice since his selection in November and is planning to visit at least once per month for meetings and discussions with a range of U officials, students, faculty, community leaders, and others. For more information, see the Presidential Transition website.

FEDERAL RELATIONS UPDATE: After an eventful election this fall, research universities like the U saw a number of desired outcomes during the lame-duck session, including renewal of the America COMPETES Act, which authorizes (but does not appropriate) funding levels for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science, reauthorization of tax credits for students, and a fix for the Pell Grant program’s funding shortfall. While COMPETES’s passage was a welcome development among university advocates, it is clear that colleges, universities, and the associations that represent them have their work cut out for them in the 112th Congress. For more information, see Federal Relations.

STATE RELATIONS UPDATE: January is typically a slow time in the legislative session; however, this year looks to be an exception given all of the new members, leadership, and the strong will to start working. Once Governor Dayton submits his budget in mid-February, the session will be in full swing. President Bruininks is scheduled to present an overview of the University before the higher education committees in both the House and Senate in the coming weeks. For more information, see State Relations.

2011 LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING: The annual Legislative Briefing brings together U of M supporters to rally behind the U’s 2011 legislative priorities. Attendees are invited to create their own personal "Because" message to be shared with their legislators. Jan. 19, 5:30–7:30 p.m., McNamara Alumni Center. For more information, see Support the U.

FEATURE: Turning fossil fuel into energy is easy: You just burn it, and live with the carbon dioxide by-product. But what if we could reverse the process and turn carbon dioxide back into fuel? Researchers Jane Davidson and Wojciech Lipinski and colleagues are using concentrated light energy equal to 3,000 suns to find the most efficient way to convert carbon dioxide and water into synthetic gas, or "syngas," with solar power. For more information, read "From sunlight to synfuels."

U OF M MOMENT: The U's Water Resources Center has authored a first-ever, comprehensive report designed to protect and preserve Minnesota's lakes, rivers, and groundwater for the 21st century and beyond. Lead author and center codirector Deb Swackhamer recently presented the report to the Minnesota Legislature. Swackhamer says Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Act serves as a starting point for preserving the state’s water supply. For more information, listen to the U of M Moment.

Awards and appointments

PEOPLE: Governor Mark Dayton named Boynton Health Service director Ed Ehlinger as his commissioner of health; David Beard (Writing Studies, UMD) and his co-author, William Keith, have won the Rohrer Award for Research of the American Forensics Association; Belinda Cheung has been named assistant vice provost for graduate education; U researchers Christopher De Jonge and Nancy Bossert were recognized in Time magazine's Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs for 2010; College of Veterinary Medicine faculty Elizabeth Wagstrom and Cindy Wolf have been appointed by agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health; U in the News features U faculty cited in the media. Read about these topics and more in People.



Administrative information

A BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE (BI) INITIATIVE AT THE U aims to provide decision makers at all levels of the University with relevant, accurate, and consistent data as well as the tools and skills to analyze them. Now more than ever, these decisions need to be rooted in data. Examples of ways in which BI can be useful include: monitoring and predicting enrollment to inform course scheduling and support, and analyzing unit spending by category or item to improve allocation of resources. For more information, join the listserv, email Business Intelligence, or see BI initiative.

THE COUNCIL OF ACADEMIC PROFESSIONALS AND ADMINISTRATORS (CAPA) spring 2011 brown bag series begins Jan. 20. The first session will be a presentation from U budget director Julie Tonneson, noon–1 p.m., 215 Donhowe. Bring a lunch and come listen, or participate via UMConnect. For more information on this and future sessions, see CAPA brown bag.

UMORE PARK IS SEEKING NOMINATIONS FOR ITS ACADEMIC MISSION ADVISORY BOARD. The board helps to identify and support mechanisms that integrate U research, education, and public engagement into the planning and development of UMore Park. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to apply. Self-nominate or nominate others by Feb. 7. For more information, see UMore Park.

THE MINNESOTA LANDSCAPE ARBORETUM IS SEEKING VOLUNTEER GUIDES to lead walking or bus tours of the gardens and to staff interpretive stations. The required training is 12 half-day sessions. Arboretum guides must commit to lead at least 10 tours or other educational activities. Learn more at an informational session, Jan. 31, 1–2 p.m., Snyder Building. To RSVP, email Arika Paukner or Sandy Tanck.

Funding opportunities

APPLICATIONS ARE BEING ACCEPTED FOR THE GRANT-IN-AID spring 2011 competition. The Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship Program in the Office of the Vice President for Research seeks to promote the scholarly and artistic activities of faculty and their graduate students and to foster academic excellence within the University. Deadline: Feb. 7. For more information, see grant applications.

2011 IMAGINE FUND AWARD WINNERS WERE RECENTLY ANNOUNCED. The fund is a unique, systemwide program open to humanities, arts, and design faculty to support a range of projects and enhance the presence of these disciplines. The 151 recipients of this year’s awards have been granted a total of more than $755,000. For more information, including a detailed listing of 2011’s award-winners, see Imagine Fund.


UMC STUDENT SHEILA CARLETON HAS WON THE STUDENT CONSERVATIONIST AWARD given by the Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society. The award gives recognition to students studying a wildlife-related major at a Minnesota college or university. For more information, see award.

A PARTNERSHIP FOCUSED ON CONNECTING CHILDREN AND NATURE has awarded mini-grants to seven projects and is looking to fund a second round in February. The partnership includes UMC, Extension, Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Northwest Regional Development Commission, International Water Institute River Watch, Polk and Mahnomen Public Health Programs, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For more information, see mini-grant.


UMD HOSTED THE "FIRST" (FOR INSPIRATION AND RECOGNITION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY) ROBOTICS PREPARATION KICKOFF EVENT on Jan. 8. More than 200 high-school students from the Duluth area and the Iron Range attended. Nearly 100 pounds of robotic materials were distributed to each of the 14 schools participating. The high-school students will have six weeks to design and build a robot for the regional competition to be held in March at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. UMD Swenson College of Science and Engineering students assisted the high-school students and will continue to mentor them with their ongoing projects. Swenson associate dean Stan Burns led the event.

UMD MEN'S AND WOMEN'S HOCKEY HAVE A NEW HOME at the AMSOIL Arena in the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in downtown Duluth. The arena held the grand opening kickoff game on Dec. 30 with the UMD men's hockey team versus the University of North Dakota, playing before a sold-out crowd of 6,732 spectators. Governor Mark Dayton, chancellor Lynn Black, and Duluth mayor Don Ness dropped the ceremonial puck. For more information, see hockey home.

UMD FOOTBALL COACH BOB NIELSON was recently named Liberty Mutual’s NCAA Division II Coach of the Year. With this honor, Liberty Mutual awards $50,000 to be disbursed among Duluth area charities designated by Coach Nielson. In addition, Liberty Mutual will donate $20,000 to the UMD Alumni Association. The Association has earmarked a majority of the funds to endow the UMD Alumni Scholarship. For more information, see Bob Nielson.


UMM WAS NAMED ONE OF THE 100 BEST VALUES IN PUBLIC COLLEGES in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance national ranking. The Morris and Twin Cities campuses were the only Minnesota institutions chosen for best value honors. For more information, see best value.

OFFICE OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR ARGIE MANOLIS was chosen by the Morris Human Rights Commission as the 2010 recipient of the Morris Human Rights Award. For more information, see human rights award.

THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY OF SERVICE will be held Jan. 17. Students and community members are invited to celebrate King’s life and legacy by joining in training related to diversity and social justice, learning about local volunteer opportunities, making a volunteer pledge for 2011, participating in a group service project, and enjoying a free meal and program. For more information, see MLK day of service.

A 2010 IMAGINE FUND AWARD HAS CONTRIBUTED TO A STUDY OF WOMEN POLITICIANS IN INDIA by Pareena Lawrence, professor of economics and management and Division of the Social Sciences chair; and Jennifer Rothchild, associate professor of sociology. Their project, "From Autobiography to Political Empowerment in Haryana," took them to villages in the Indian states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Lawrence and Rothchild are among 17 UMM professors who received 2010 Imagine Fund Awards. For more information, see women politicians in India.


THE BIOMEDICAL INFORMATICS AND COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY (BICB) PROGRAM will hold a research symposium Jan. 14 in Rochester. The event will bring together teams of scientists, administrators, and students from UMTC, UMR, the Hormel Institute, the Mayo Clinic, and IBM, as well as other researchers working in the field. Keynote presentations will be given by the Mayo Clinic's Frank Prendergast, "Cancer: Bioinformatics, and the 'N' of One Problem;" and the U's Henning Schroeder, "U.S. Graduate Education in a Globalized Academic Marketplace." For more information, see BICB research symposium.


Administrative information

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT (FM) COMPLETED A SAFETY INCENTIVE PROGRAM DEC. 31 THAT HAS REDUCED INJURIES AND COSTS. The program launched after 58 lost-time injuries in 2008 incurred workers’ compensation costs in excess of $1.25 million. In 2009, the first year of the program, the number of lost-time injuries dropped to 25, with $535,000 in workers’ compensation. Lost-time injuries held steady in 2010 at 26, but workers’ compensation costs fell to $197,586, a level not seen in more than 20 years. A new incentive program is expected to launch in July. For more information, see safety program success.

A NEW PUBLICATION FOR STUDENTS, THE UNDERGRAD UPDATE will deliver concise student information that is current and relevant to the undergraduate population. The biweekly student email is a collaborative effort between the Office for Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Education to streamline undergraduate communication at the UMTC campus. For the most current mailing and to see a timeline of future mailings, see The Undergrad Update.

NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN FOR THE 2011 PRESIDENT'S STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE AWARD. The awards honor the accomplishments of outstanding students at UMTC. All faculty, staff, administrators, and students are encouraged to nominate current University students by Feb. 4. For more information, see student award nomination.

Professional development opportunities

REFRESH YOUR WORK LIFE WITH WINTER TRAINING COURSES. There are still a few openings in some of the professional, career, supervisory, and leadership development courses being offered by the Organizational Effectiveness unit of Human Resources. Courses include Career Foundations, Working Across Generations, Goal Setting and Success, Conflict Fluency, Understanding Change, Leading Effective Meetings, Labor Relations at the University, Successful Manager's Leadership Program, The Gift of Feedback, and more. For more information, see winter training.

Lectures, exhibits, and other events

"RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF MINORITIES IN CLINICAL TRIALS: LESSONS LEARNED FROM EMPaCT" will outline how the U is tackling the disparity of high cancer rates among minorities coupled with low participation in clinical trials. The U launched the Enhancing Minority Participation in Clinical Trials (EMPaCT) program, along with the Center for Health Equity, to examine why certain racial and ethnic minority groups suffer a greater incidence of cancer than the U.S. population as a whole, often with a higher mortality rate. Selwyn Vickers and Jasjit Ahluwalia will discuss goals to remove barriers, enhance recruitment, and pave the way for life-saving research. Jan. 21, 7:30–9 a.m., Coffman Union, Mississippi Room. For more information, see minority health.

CELEBRATE THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL CHILDREN'S STUDY in Ramsey County on Jan. 24, 4–6 p.m., Wilder Center, St. Paul. Local health experts and policy leaders will reflect on the health and well-being of children, today and in the future. A reception will follow. For registration and more information, see children's study launch.

THE INTERDISCIPLINARY GRADUATE GROUP IN SOCIAL COMPUTING will hold monthly meetings with guest speakers and opportunities to learn about social computing initiatives at the U. Those with research focusing on social media or with an interest in sharing ideas with others about social computing are invited to attend and network with new colleagues. Jan. 27, 4–6 p.m., 402 Digital Technology Center. For more information or to join the mailing list, see social computing.

DEINARD MEMORIAL LECTURE ON LAW AND MEDICINE: "New Technologies and Old Statutes: Challenges for 21st-Century Food and Medical Product Regulation," will be held Feb. 2, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Mississippi Room, Coffman Union. University of Wisconsin professor and U.S. Food and Drug Administration official R. Alta Charo is the featured speaker. Free and open to the public. For registration and more information, see Deinard Lecture.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR MINI MEDICAL SCHOOL. This winter, Mini Medical School focuses on the fascinating world of regenerative medicine. Renowned U researchers will describe a future where body parts can re-grow, victims of spinal cord injuries can walk, and a person's own immune system can fight cancer. Mondays, Feb. 14–March 14, 6–8:30 p.m., 2-650 Moos Tower. U faculty, staff, students, and others may receive a discounted rate of $65 for the entire series. For registration and more information, see Mini Medical School or call 612-626-7072.

MORE EVENTS include Google: Advanced Searching for Researchers (Jan. 14); January Breakfast Series (Jan. 19). SEE THESE AND MORE TWIN CITIES CAMPUS EVENTS.

UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS: Golden Gophers | UMD Bulldogs | UMM Cougars | UMC Golden Eagles

For additional news, information, and resources about U faculty and staff, visit the Faculty and Staff website. Follow us on Twitter at UFacultyStaff.

Brief is the official University of Minnesota staff and faculty weekly news digest, featuring human resource, employee benefit, administrative, legislative, budgetary, event, and other pertinent information.

Published by Internal Communications in the Office of University Relations at the University of Minnesota. Please send comments, questions, or submissions to the editor at The deadline for submissions is noon on the Friday before publication. All Twin Cities event submissions are handled through the events calendar at

Brief is published by email and on the Web. Subscribe to Brief.