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Conversation With the Provost - It's a Start

I was unable to make the meeting yesterday and am really sorry. About one hundred people were there in person and around the same number logged into the website. Very few students showed up.

It is hard to fault the administration for the time of the meeting, but I have students working in my lab at that time and we already had another critical meeting scheduled. It should be noted that the meeting was held on short notice, but even that is understandable.

But here goes a report of the activities. It sounds like some of us malcontents and "doubters" had input. It is about time.

From the Daily:

‘Town hall’ meeting at U addresses economic woes

David Introwitz

The University of Minnesota held an open discussion Thursday to talk about its future in light of recent economic times.

The discussion’s hot topic was Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposal of a $151 million cut to the University of Minnesota’s budget for the upcoming 2010-11 biennium.

The event, moderated by University Provost Tom Sullivan and University Relations Vice-President Karen Himle, came at a time when the University will “cross the line? where state support becomes substantially less than the tuition revenue coming from students, Sullivan said.

“The state is essentially saying we’re going to put this on the backs of our students,? Sullivan said. “This has never happened before in the state of Minnesota.?

Sullivan outlined seven budget principles to guide University administrators in deciding what will get cut when the state Legislature finalizes the budget in either late May or early June.

“We’re taking [budget cuts] as of Tuesday very seriously and beginning to model what that might look like for our University,? he said.

Students and faculty were also encouraged to participate electronically on the University website if they couldn’t make it to the discussion in person.

At the forum’s end, 89 people were signed on to the website, and about 100 people attended in person, Himle said. The meeting was held at Fraser Hall.

Faculty and staff who were present represented a variety of viewpoints across different departments. Several of them took advantage of the opportunity to speak frankly to the provost about the University’s actions.

Eva von Dassow, an associate professor of classical and near eastern studies, accused Sullivan of proposing cuts in the past only at the bottom of the pay scale.

“We’ve been losing positions due to the hiring pause, with no guarantee that we’ll ever get them back,? Dassow said. “You do not maintain the quality of the University by cutting its living flesh.?

Student Paul Strain, an MSA member, voiced concerns that the student body felt “insulated and unaware of how these cuts are actually going to affect them.?

Only a handful of students were in the room among a vast majority of faculty and staff.

Ranking Student Representative to the Board of Regents Jordan Bronston said he wasn’t surprised that there weren’t a lot of students in attendance, but that he hoped a similar discussion could be held specifically for students in the near future.

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