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Board of Regents September meeting summary

The board heard an update on strategic positioning, approved the recent CCLRT agreement, and more

By Adam Overland

Board of Regents June 2010 165x165

September 14, 2010

Last week, the University and the Metropolitan Council authorized the signing of an agreement governing the design, construction, and implementation of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project on campus. The agreement protects the U's research and research infrastructure along Washington Avenue. The agreement will be executed when each party (including the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County) approves the agreement, expected later this month. For ongoing construction information, see the U's Central Corridor construction website and sign up for regular email updates.

Academic program changes
Provost Tom Sullivan presented a report on academic program changes in undergraduate and graduate programs to the Educational Planning and Policy Committee. Sullivan first presented the review process for establishing or making changes to academic programs and the principles guiding the process. The full report is available online.

Strategic positioning update
President Bruininks and Provost Sullivan provided the board with a strategic positioning update as well as a review of the 2010 University Plan, Performance, and Accountability Report. The president will request that the Board vote to accept the report at its October meeting.

Among the good news were two firsts for the U this year: it received the largest number of applications ever in school history, and the mean ACT composite score for the incoming class is projected to be above 27. Sullivan said these two signs represent meaningful progress for the U.

Four-year graduation rates have also doubled, and the first-year retention rate is now at 91 percent.
In addition, research continues to climb. The U received $823 million in research awards for 2010—an increase of more than $130 million since 2009 (and of more than 10 percent even after subtracting federal stimulus money).

2009 Public Perception and Attitude Survey results
Vice President for University Relations Karen Himle presented on the University's annual reputation survey. The survey indicated that overall perceptions of U are favorable among Minnesotans. On average, the public's rating of the University is slightly higher this year than previously, and results over time indicate the public has long-term positive perceptions of the U.

Reasons cited were the U's reputation for (1) educational excellence and (2) top-notch research, particularly in science and medicine.

Reasons for negative perceptions centered mainly on the cost of tuition and financial management, although when asked about financing a U of M education, most Minnesotans support a balanced amount of funding from state taxes and student tuition. Financial management rated neutral to positive compared with other large organizations.

The report also found that people who feel strongly connected to the University are significantly more likely to hold positive opinions of the U, and that attendance at a sporting event (28 percent) or holding a University degree (23 percent) were the main points of connection cited.

Driven to Discover campaign impact
Himle said that the survey showed that public awareness and opinions related to the Driven to Discover campaign messages rose during the campaign in 2007, peaked in 2008, and declined when the program was suspended in 2009.

"We know the public really craves information about the University of Minnesota. We also know there is a direct correlation between private support and sharing information…between legislative support, and understanding the breadth and depth and import and impact of the work of the University of Minnesota. But we're very broad and we're very deep, and so it's hard to capture all of that in a dose that you can swallow," said Himle.

As a result of the survey's findings, Himle said that the University will launch a new phase of the Driven to Discover campaign on September 27: "Because." The campaign will include television, print, online, radio advertising, and on-campus materials such as sidewalk clings. Himle showed the board a preview of the new campaign.

Facilities Committee
The board's facilities committee reviewed and acted on design plans for the expansion of the Recreation Center on the Twin Cities campus and on a capital budget amendment for the Oak Street Parking Ramp Bike Center.

Rec Center expansion
Recreational centers are often a major factor in a prospective student's decision to attend a University, and the amount of recreational space on the UMTC campus has stayed relatively static since the Rec Center was built in 1993. The U's facility is currently about 50 percent undersized, with overcrowding a major issue among students. Research indicates participation in recreational sports results in higher GPAs, higher retention and graduation rates, a greater level of social interaction, and a greater sense of affiliation with the U.

The board unanimously approved the estimated $59,600,000 expansion (funded by student fees), which will add 148,000 square feet of recreation space upon completion in spring 2013. The facility will fill a roughly triangular area just north of the Scholar's Walk and south of the Aquatic Center.

Oak Street Bike Center
The board also approved a capital budget amendment for the Oak Street Bike Center, to be housed in the unused transit waiting area of the Oak Street Parking Ramp at 401 Oak Street SE. Scheduled to be completed in spring 2011, the bike center will feature 4,600 sq. ft. of space, including secure bike storage, lockers, changing facilities, showers, retail bike parts and accessories, safety and how-to classes, a meeting place for cyclists, and an onsite staff including a bike mechanic.

The Bike Center will also be the base for an innovative Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system, which will permit bicyclists who install an identity tag on their bikes to earn benefits and incentives, such as reduced costs for tune-ups or Wellness Rewards. The data collected from tracking bicyclists' movements will also be used for research, such as studies of the health impacts of providing a bike infrastructure and the impact of bike commuters on carbon reduction.

The U received a $559,000 grant for the project from the Department of Transportation through an initiative by Minnesota congressman Jim Oberstar to increase rates of bicycling and walking. The total project cost is estimated at $777,000. The U of M has the highest bike usage concentration in the city and state of Minnesota, with more than 5,000 daily bicyclists on the Twin Cities campus. Use of the center may include an $85 annual membership fee.

Facilities condition assessment
Vice President for University Services Kathleen O’Brien and Associate Vice President for Facilities Mike Berthelsen also provided a facilities condition assessment update. The U currently maintains 29 million square feet of facility space systemwide, making it one of largest campuses in the country in terms of square feet. However, the current capital need exceeds available funding. The committee heard that the U would need an additional $29 million annually to fund facilities at the peer institution average. Part of the U strategy will be to continue push the toward the right amount of space, by demolishing or decommissioning ineffective or inefficient buildings and making certain new additions are of flexible use.

Mayo Garage Renovation: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility
The board heard an update on the renovation and relocation of the U's NMR facility from the first floor of Nils Hasselmo Hall to a remodeled Mayo Parking Garage. The move will allow the facility to continue operating during the construction of the CCLRT. A formal schematic design will be presented to the board in November. For more information, see Facilities Committee.

UMR and the Rochester Downtown Master Plan
The board heard a presentation by UMR chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle on the Rochester Downtown Master Plan. The 20-year plan is designed to accommodate the growth requirements of a permanent UMR campus, the Mayo Clinic's growth expectations, and the needs of the community and visitors to the community.

Regents Professors recognized
The board recognized the three newly appointed Regents Professors at the University. The designation is the highest level of recognition given to faculty by the university. For more information, read profiles of Regents Professors William Iacono, Horace Loh, and Karen Seashore.

Introduction of UMD chancellor Lynn Black
The board was introduced to the new chancellor of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Lynn Black. More information about Black can be found in a May news release.