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Board of Regents meeting summary, November 2010

The Board of Regents selected a presidential finalist and approved the state biennial budget request

By Adam Overland

Board of Regents

November 16, 2010

The Board of Regents met Nov. 11–12 to act on the state biennial budget request. The Facilities Committee heard updates on the Mayo Garage renovation, and the board approved a 40-year mining lease to Dakota Aggregates, LLC, covering 1,722 acres on the UMore Park property.

But the biggest news, of course, came in the Board's announcement of the selection of Eric Kaler as the finalist to become the 16th president of the University of Minnesota when President Bruininks returns to the faculty in June 2011. Kaler is currently provost and senior vice president of academic affairs and vice president for Brookhaven Affairs at Stony Brook University. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, earning his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1982. 

Additional information about Dr. Kaler can be found here.

A 12-person search committee led by Regent Simmons reviewed 148 nominations and applications before forwarding four semifinalists to the board, referred to in discussions only as "candidates a, b, c, and d." Two of the candidates declined to be named unless they were to be the sole finalist, and the board honored those privacy requests. The board chose to invite only Kaler to campus for a public forum and interview. The board said that all of the semifinalists were academics with strong administrative experience, representative of both public and private institutions, and all with Big 10 experience. All four were external candidates.

Kaler will visit the Twin Cities campus on Nov. 17–18, to meet with student leaders, the Faculty Consultative Committee, senior administrators, and leadership from the University’s foundations and University of Minnesota Alumni Association. In addition, he will be publicly interviewed by the Board of Regents and participate in an open forum with the University community.

The public forum with Kaler will take place Nov. 17, 4–5:15 p.m., Coffman Union Theater. The forum will be streamed on the internet and shown live via ITV connection on the coordinate campuses.

The public interview with the Board of Regents will take place Nov. 18, 11:45 a.m.–12:45 a.m., McNamara Alumni Center, Sixth Floor Boardroom.

The interview will also be made available online. For more information, see interview and forum.

other board news
Biennial budget request
The board approved the president's recommended state biennial budget request for 2012–13, detailed more thoroughly in the October Board meeting summary. The University request will be to retain the $642 million ($1.28 billion over two years) that is the U's yearly base appropriation level as set by the state legislature during its last session.

During a work session, the board heard an update and review from President Bruininks about how the U is measuring its successes on key, U-wide goals. The University uses metrics to inform every stage of its strategic improvement framework, which calls for measuring planning and resource allocation, operational management, and performance assessment and accountability. The board heard about what metrics are currently being measured, and about what's new and what's next.

The Office of Planning and Analysis (OPA) is currently working with the Office of the Vice President for Research on a study of the economic impact of the U on the state, helping to quantify the impact of teaching, research, service, and operations on the state economy.

The board reviewed data for key measures proposed to the board last year, including student engagement, employee engagement, tuition costs for undergraduate students, and the U's carbon footprint.

In the coming year, OPA will report to the Board of Regents, the public, and the U community on its progress. For more information about OPA, see Planning and Analysis.

Facilities committee
Mayo Garage Renovation: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility
The board approved the formal plan and budgeting for 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 Central Corridor Light Rail (CCLRT) project.

Senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School Frank Cerra said that the Mayo Garage, once a problem, has become a solution to the new problem—vibrations from construction of CLLRT, which would disrupt $110 million of research in Hasselmo Hall. The move will minimize downtime of the magnets, and have them up and running by March 2012, said Cerra. Interior demolition of the Mayo garage will begin this month.

UMore Park
The board approved a 40-year lease to Dakota Aggregates, LLC, covering 1,722 acres on the UMore Park property. President of the UMore Development LLC and senior academic adviser in the Office for UMore Park Academic Initiatives Charles Muscoplat said that the mining will generate $3–5 million a year for the University for 40 years. No more than 160 acres at a time will be mined.

In addition, Muscoplat said that Dakota Aggregates has pledged to create an unrestricted scholarship fund, donating .02 cents per ton of materials produced for students in geology, civil engineering, land-use planning, and related disciplines. He estimates it will bring between $2–2.5 million in scholarships over the 40-year lease.

Morris wind turbine
The board approved schematic plans for the installation of a wind turbine on the Morris campus, 1,600 feet south of the current turbine, which has been in place about five years. The plan originally called for two new turbines; the economy contributed to the plan revision.

Other real estate
•    The board approved schematic plans for the renovation of Eastcliff.
•    The board approved the purchase of 617 S. Broadway, Rochester, for the UMR campus.
•    The board approved the purchase of 527 Oak Street, UMTC.

Internal communications
The board heard a report from VP for University Relations Karen Himle and internal communications director Ann Freeman regarding the U's Internal Communications function.

The department of Internal Communications was created in 2007 to improve communications among faculty, staff, and students of the University. Freeman said that in early 2010, the department conducted the first-ever systemwide survey of faculty and staff to evaluate communication preferences and to provide recommendations for future programming.

Key conclusions from the survey included suggestions from faculty and staff on how communications might improve, including more communication; more detail, especially on budget and finance decisions; more transparency; and more opportunities for face-to-face discussion and to provide feedback. Freeman said that the department is using the survey results and integrating the suggestions into an overall strategy to improve communication at the U. For more information, see internal communications.

New VP for human resources

The board approved the appointment of vice president and chief of staff Kathryn Brown as the new vice president for human resources, effective June 1. Current vice president Carol Carrier, who has been the U's chief human resource officer for more than 20 years, will transition from that role and return to her faculty position in the College of Education and Human Development.

Coordinate campus reports
The Board's Educational Planning and Policy Committee heard coordinate campus reports and strategic positioning updates from the campuses.

For detailed information on all of the board's activities, see the November docket materials.