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University Board of Regents approves resolutions

U Board of Regents addressed a number of issues at its monthly meeting on Dec. 11 and 12

By Adam Overland

Regents Seal

December 17, 2008

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents addressed a number of issues at its monthly meeting on Dec. 11 and 12. Chief among these was the University's response to the current economic climate. President Bruininks described the state of Minnesota's budget shortfall of $4.8 billion for the biennium as "a more serious challenge than any we've experienced." He stated that the U is addressing short- and long-term plans to reduce costs, increase productivity, and avoid unnecessary job cuts.

Bruininks also took a moment to highlight the recently announced Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation $40 million pledge for Type 1 diabetes research. The gift is the second largest in the history of the U and the second largest by an individual or family foundation to diabetes research in the United States. "The University has an extraordinary team of researchers working on diabetes at the U--arguably the best in the world," Bruininks said.

In other action, the Board approved a resolution on the UMore Park property in Dakota County. The resolution directs the administration to proceed with the next steps needed to develop the property and to create the legal framework and documents for the establishment of a governance structure in the form of a single owner LLC, and a legacy fund that would use designated proceeds, revenues, and income from UMore Park assets for long-term support of academic research, education, and public engagement not otherwise adequately funded by state, federal, or tuition resources.

The Regents voted to approve a proposal to authorize alcohol sales in the premium seating sections of TCF Bank Stadium, Mariucci Arena, Williams Arena, and the restaurant of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. "The resolution will permit the sale of alcohol in non-student focused areas, and is very consistent with our Big 10 colleagues and peer institutions," said vice president Kathy Brown. A review of 119 college football programs found that 118 had similar policies relating to alcohol sales, Brown noted.

Also approved by the Board was a supplemental state capital budget request that included funding for the construction of a new Bell Museum on the St. Paul campus.

Of particular note during the Regents' monthly meeting, vice president Tim Mulcahy provided the Board with the annual report on the state of University research. He observed that the University of Minnesota continued to prove itself as a top research institution in 2007 with $675 million in sponsored awards, an 8.3 percent increase from the previous year. Mulcahy said that over the last three fiscal years the university has increased its research expenditures by nearly 19 percent, posting the second largest growth rate among the top 20 public research universities in the country. Only The Ohio State performed better, a state augmented, Mulcahy said, by the state of Ohio's implementation of science funding providing incentives to business and industry that conduct research with the public University. Mulcahy argued that the example was a good one for the state of Minnesota to adopt.

Mulcahy further emphasized the importance of highlighting the impact of U research and of finding effective ways to measure that impact. He referenced research by U faculty David Tillman, David Feinberg, David Bedford, Doris Taylor, and many others as examples of great researchers with discoveries that impact the world. "These are our stories, and we need to tell them, and find a better way to capture our impact," said Mulcahy.

Finally, the annual financial report indicated that the balance sheet of the University remains strong. Vice president and CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter noted that future financial strength would largely depend on continuing to find new sources of revenue and cost containment, with an emphasis on focusing financial resources on the U's core mission. He also noted that one source of new revenue would include the TCF Bank Stadium, which is expected to bring in an additional $5 to 6 million in new revenue each year.

The Board of Regents next meets on Feb. 12 and 13.

For more information on the state of U research, see the news release.