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Board of Regents meeting summary, March 2012


The board heard the report of the president, received an update on a proposed new Ambulatory Care Center and approved the U's 2012 Six-Year Capital Plan

By Adam Overland

Board of Regents


March 13, 2012

Board of Regents meeting summary, March 2012 At the March Board of Regents meeting, the board heard the report of the president, received an update on a proposed new Ambulatory Care Center on the Twin Cities campus, approved the U's 2012 Six-Year Capital Plan, and listened to a presentation on the University's land-grant mission. 

President's Report

President Kaler provided an update to the board, presenting highlights from his State of the University address, U research, and more. Kaler delivered his first State of the University speech on March 1 to nearly 1,000 people (in-person and online). The theme of the speech was "balances," by which he presented a number of new initiatives including the potential for a year-round academic calendar. 

He also previewed his 2013 budget in the speech. He told the board that, except for raises and financial aid, the budget has no increased costs for services or administration. "I pledged to hold the line on administrative costs, and this budget will do that," said Kaler. Following three years of salary freezes or modest increases and furloughs, and an increased health care cost burden, Kaler's budget calls for a 2.5 percent compensation increase for all employees. The budget includes a pool of about $21 million for academic investments to be awarded competitively to faculty.

A summary of the State of the U speech or the full text can be found online.

The president directly addressed the issue of separation and transition packages for former administrators. Kaler echoed what he told the Minnesota House of Representatives Higher Education Committee earlier in the week:

"I regret that those past decisions on compensation packages may hurt the public's trust in our stewardship of this great university. While these agreements were set before my arrival, I am the president and I take responsibility for what we do. President Bruininks did act within our policy, which gives the president discretion. But I also told the committee that I view these packages as very generous. My approach will be different."

Kaler told the board he is committed to transparency, accountability, and maintaining the public trust.

President Kaler highlighted a recent gift of $6.65 million from the Bentson Foundation to the University and its School of Nursing, as well as a U innovations event he attended honoring 134 faculty who produced 65 patents and 74 licenses in the past year.

"I really wonder how many other institutions can claim patents and licenses coming from 13 separate colleges and units, including our Medical School, CFANS, CEHD, CLA, and our Natural Resources Research Institute at UMD," said Kaler. "Such achievements show how much we matter to this state and its economy, and they confirm the sort of impact we have on the lives of Minnesotans."

In closing, President Kaler took a moment to remember the U's Gary DeCramer, who died suddenly on March 7. DeCramer was a state senator from 1983 to1992 and led the U's Humphrey School Masters of Public Affairs program.

Ambulatory Care Center

During a March 8 work session, the board received an update on a proposed new ambulatory care center on the Twin Cities campus. The center would house patient clinics for use by University of Minnesota Physicians, U students, and Fairview Health Services and would replace outdated clinic space located in the Phillips-Wangensteen Building, which was built in 1974 and based on a design from the 1960s. "You can imagine how much health care has changed since that time," said Bobbi Daniels, CEO of University Physicians.

The current facilities now handle more than 420,000 visits per year, three times the originally projected patient volume. U Physicians expects the number of visits to continue to grow at 2 percent per year for the next 10 years, Daniels told the board. The proposed four-story building would be slightly more than 305,000 square feet and would accommodate all current clinics, with room for growth. Parking would be adjacent to the Oak Street Ramp. The building's location just off of I-94, bordered by Fulton and Essex Streets and Erie and Ontario Avenues, would vastly improve patient access.

The $182.5 million ambulatory care center is designed around four guiding principles:

  • Patient and family-centered care—provide safe, welcoming, and accessible clinic space.
  • Collaborative environment—promote multidisciplinary space that integrates patient care, education, and research.
  • Flexibility—adapt and accommodate changes in program development, health care best practices, and innovation.
  • Recruitment and retention—invest in educational excellence for students and a suitable space for University of Minnesota Physicians to practice medicine.

If approved, construction will begin in fall 2013, with the facility opening in January 2016. The board will vote on the plan during its May meeting.

Six-Year Capital Plan

The board approved the $1.3 billion six-year capital plan, which aligns future investments at U of M campuses statewide with President Kaler's vision for the U.

The six-year capital plan calls for projects that will help ensure student success and access, contribute to the University's research infrastructure, and ensure more efficient use of space while protecting the assets of the U's campuses.

While the current bonding bill proposed by Governor Dayton includes $78 million for University projects, it is about $90 million less than the amount the University is seeking, with a particular shortfall in funds for the maintenance of existing facilities, known as HEAPR (Higher Education Asset Preservation and Renovation). The governor's recommendation provides $20 million of the $90 million requested for HEAPR.

Regent David Larson expressed his concern over the shortfall. "If we do not take care of our facilities and maintain them now, it ends up costing us significantly more than if we had maintained them at the right time," he said. He likened the situation to the regular maintenance of an automobile. "If you don't change the oil in your car on a regular basis, chances are you're going to have a big problem."

President Kaler said the U is doing everything it can to press the issue.

The U's current capital request includes five projects for the 2012 legislative session.

Land Grant 150

The board heard a presentation on the U's land-grant mission from senior VP Robert Jones and Provost Karen Hanson. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, the legislation that gave birth to land-grant universities across the United States. The U of M is one of the country's original land-grant institutions, dedicated to the mission of promoting access to higher education and collaborating to advance knowledge benefiting communities, the state, and the world.

There are 73 land grant institutions in the country, Provost Hanson told the board, and they are critically important. "Research universities grant 85 percent of bachelor degrees and 58 percent of doctorates in the United States," she said. "They are the higher education and research infrastructure of this country."

The University of Minnesota will celebrate its land-grant mission throughout 2012 with UMN Land Grant 150, encompassing wide-ranging events and activities that explore the University's land-grant legacy.

Other Board News

New Carlson School Dean
The board approved the appointment of Sri Zaheer, who became dean of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management on March 9. A Carlson faculty member since 1991, she's been serving as interim dean since June 2011. Learn more about Dean Zaheer in a University feature, "A force for the good: A conversation with Sri Zaheer."

New VP and CIO
The board was introduced to the U's newly appointed VP and chief information officer R. Scott Studham. He began in mid-February. As the chief information officer, Studham will be responsible for academic and administrative information technology for the entire U system.

McKnight Land-Grant Professorships
The board recognized the 2012 recipients of the McKnight Land-Grant Professorships: Yingling Fan, Joshua Feinberg, Melissa Gardner, Jason Hill, Daniel Keefe, and Dominique Tobbell. The McKnight program recognizes and rewards its most promising junior faculty. For more information and a description of the recipients and their research, see McKnight 2012.

Sviggum Resigns
The board accepted the resignation of Regent Steve Sviggum in light of legal opinions that his position as communications director and executive assistant for the Minnesota Senate GOP Caucus presented a conflict of interest for his service as a regent.

The board will not meet in April. The next board meeting will take place May 10–11.