tjs - Like a moth, to the flame
"Thus has the candle singed the moathe." [Merchant of Venice]
I think that you have misconstrued the original land grant mission of the university and would invite you to step outside Morrill Hall - the next time you are over there - and have a look at what is written on the facade of Northrop:
The University of Minnesota
Founded in the faith that people are ennobled by understanding
Dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth
Devoted to the instruction of youth and the welfare of the state
I don't see anything there about "ambitious aspirations to be one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]."
How about one of the top three public universities in the BigTen? Let's try to get there first. I am afraid this is not likely to happen in my lifetime. Unless, of course, when OurLeader and OurProvost move on to their earthly rewards, we get lucky. Leadership does matter.