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An engine of growth

The regents seal

September 16, 2008

The U of M has been an engine of innovation and growth for the state of Minnesota over the past 160 years, and will continue to deliver on that mission well into the future. That was the message President Robert Bruininks delivered in laying out a budget request to the Board of Regents on September 12. The proposed budget for the 2010-11 biennium (two-year budget period) requests $141.2 million in new state money to maintain the university's competitive position and strengthen Minnesota's economy. Bruininks stressed that past investments in the University have paid off, and that in order to maintain the value of those investments, the U and the state need to maintain momentum. "The future of Minnesota rests on investment and we are a good investment," says Bruininks. He cited the U's deep integration in the state through its five campuses and 18 extension offices, and praised past leaders for their commitment to the U. Provost Tom Sullivan echoed the sentiment saying that every $1 million invested in research at the U of M typically yields 36-39 jobs in the state of Minnesota. This past year, the U received more than $600 million in research awards.

Investment in research is one of the most critical ingredients to job creation and economic growth. About 70 percent of the state's healthcare professionals have been trained at the University of Minnesota; the field's growth is just one example of the critical role the University plays in the state's economy. The budget request acknowledges this by calling for $30 million for research enhancement.

Overall, the proposed budget, which will be voted on by the regents in October and submitted to the state legislature later this year, asks for a 9.8 percent increase in state appropriations compared with the previous biennium. It's the second-lowest percentage increase the U has requested in the past decade, due in part to the difficult state of the economy. With that in mind, more than two-thirds of the request will go toward general salary increases to help University employees meet rising costs for fuel, food, and other staples ($95.2 million). The creation of a $16 million Middle Income Scholarship Program makes up the remainder of the budget request. That program seeks to make the U more accessible by providing savings of as much as 40 percent for those students at the lower end of the eligibility scale (family income of $50,000) and 5 percent for those at the higher end ($100,000).

The Board of Regents will consider the request over the course of the next month and vote in October. For more information, see Regents.