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Board of Regents meeting summary, February 2011


The regents gave final approval to the $81 million Northrop renovation project

By Adam Overland

Board of Regents June 2010 165x165


February 15, 2011

Northrop revitalization approved
The biggest news from the Board of Regents February meeting came in the approval for financing a major overhaul of Northrop Auditorium. The board gave final approval to the $80.8 million project, which will be funded through a combination of Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funds, private donations, University funds, and savings and debt service. Northrop, already closed, will reopen in fall 2013.

Built in 1929, Northrop has become one of the most iconic buildings in the state and serves as the heart of the TC campus. Once the U's primary gathering place for the performing arts, concerts, academic ceremonies, and major civic events, the facility has fallen into a pattern of increasing obsolescence as the needs of the University and the state have changed. Most recently, the building has been used for only 51 events a year.

The revitalization will do more than simply upgrade building systems. Northrop's transformation will increase the amount of public study and technology-rich, collaborative space on the Twin Cities campus by 50 percent. In addition, the revitalization will restore Northrop's preeminent cultural and performing arts center with a world-class, multi-purpose, 2,800-seat hall, featuring state-of-the-art acoustics, significantly improved sight lines, cutting-edge technologies, and updated amenities, including a cafe and coffee bar.

The majority of commencement ceremonies during the construction will be moved to Mariucci Arena. Northrop Concerts and Lectures will continue to present performances during the revitalization phase at other venues, such as the State and Orpheum Theatres. The 2011–12 Northrop Dance season will be announced later this spring.

For the most current revitalization information and to subscribe to regular email updates, see Northrop revive.

2011 state capital budget request approved
The Facilities Committee approved schematic plans for the proposed new Physics and Nanotechnology building on the Twin Cities campus, and the board approved capital budget amendments related to Eastcliff renovations, Central Corridor light rail laboratory mitigations, and renovation of Northrop Auditorium. The full board approved these amendments and the 2011 state capital budget request at its Feb. 11 meeting. Also included in the capital request was funding for the proposed American Indian Learning Research Center at UMD and improvements to facilities at the U's Itasca research station.

The state’s budget forecast will be released on Feb. 28 and will project the actual budget deficit, which is critical for the development of the state’s biennial budget, and funding for the University. For more information, see a state relations update.

Faculty Retirement Plan
Vice president for human resources Carol Carrier and director of retirement programs Jackie Singer presented to the Faculty, Staff, and Student Affairs Committee on trends, issues, and benchmarks in academic retirement programs.

Singer pointed out that retirement plans are one aspect of the compensation package, and that a market comparison should include all components of compensation. She reported that the P&A/Faculty Retirement Plan is being reviewed given the economic situation, but at this point no action is planned. There are some changes happening across most plans nationally, said Singer, with California's perhaps changing most drastically, but most changes are happening slowly. As they move along in the process of evaluating and comparing the plan with other institutions, they will continue to inform the board, says Singer.

The state retirement system for Civil Service and Bargaining Units was reviewed for the Board in December.

Retirement Incentive Option approved
The Board of Regents approved the Retirement Incentive Option (RIO) at its meeting on Feb. 11. RIO is an opportunity for voluntary retirement for eligible employees.

RIO will provide a lump-sum contribution to the State of Minnesota Health Care Savings Plan following the last day of employment. The amount of the contribution will be roughly equivalent to 24 months (52 pay periods) of University subsidy, depending upon the employee's UPlan coverage level. RIO informational seminars will be held on the Twin Cities campus to provide more details about the program on Feb. 21, noon–1 p.m.; Feb. 22, 10–11 a.m.; and Feb. 22, 2:30–3:30 p.m.

For more information, including seminar locations, enrollment dates, and eligibility requirements, see Retirement Incentive Option.

In other board news
The Board recognized two U of M students recently named Rhodes Scholars: medical student Priya Sury, and mathematics graduate student Prerna Nadathur.

The board was formally introduced to the new vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School, Dr. Aaron Friedman.

The board congratulated Steven Rosenstone on his recent appointment as the next chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

President Bruininks and the board thanked senior vice president for academic affairs and provost Tom Sullivan, who recently announced that he would be stepping down from his position at the end of 2011 to return to the faculty of the Law School.

The board said goodbye to retiring regents Anthony Baraga and Dallas Bohnsack whose 12 years of service (two, six-year terms) will come to an end when lawmakers appoint new regents, which could come as early as late February.