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May 31, 2009

Something Else That President Bruininks Can Learn From Mark Yudof?

From the Chronicle:

U. of California Executives to Take 5% Pay Cuts

The president of the University of California and other senior executives, including campus chancellors, will take a 5-percent pay cut in the 2009-10 fiscal year, the president, Mark G. Yudof, announced in a letter late last week. The announcement comes as California lawmakers prepare to discuss further cuts in the state budget, including appropriations for public colleges and universities, after the failure last month of ballot measures that were designed to help close a widening deficit.

Besides the president’s and the chancellors’ pay, the cuts apply to the salaries of executive and senior vice presidents, the general counsel, and executive vice chancellors. Other employees are likely to be asked to make similar sacrifices, Mr. Yudof’s letter implied. “Given the magnitude of the budget shortfall,” he wrote, “all options need to be considered, and, unfortunately it is likely that every member of the UC community will be affected negatively.”

The university had already frozen executives’ pay in an earlier round of budget-cutting moves
that included reducing this fall’s freshman enrollment by more than 2,000 students.

The San Diego Union-Tribune estimated that the new cuts in senior administrators’ pay would probably save less than $1-million. In his letter, Mr. Yudof acknowledged that those cuts would “not have a significant impact on our very serious budget deficit.” He added, however, that he believed “a reduction in pay is only right, especially as we continue to consider possible furloughs and/or pay cuts for faculty and staff systemwide.”

Legislative critics of the university were not appeased. State Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat who has introduced a bill that seeks to give the Legislature more control over the university, told the Union-Tribune that other Californians had already lost jobs or taken pay cuts, and that the university “should have led the way a long time ago.”

May 29, 2009

DNA from New-Borns: Cui Bono

Yesterday I posted on a developing situation with respect to the use of DNA from the blood of new-born infants in Minnesota.

Today Politics in Minnesota has a further post that I have shortened slightly and added my own emphasis. It may be found on the Periodic Table: ALL UR DNA BLONG 2 US.

Freedom of consent, total galactose & intellectual property: Minnesota's infant DNA Mayo-Gopher industrial complex

Another Creative Use of Online Education?


Lamoureux twins headed for North Dakota

From KARE:

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Twins Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux are making plans to play for the University of North Dakota after dominant freshman women's hockey seasons in Minnesota.

The twins were granted a release from their scholarships at Minnesota on Tuesday. Jocelyn signed a letter of intent Wednesday to attend UND. Monique is expected to sign hers early next week.

The twins, who are Grand Forks natives, ranked third and fourth nationally in scoring as rookies.

Monique said Coach Brian Idalski has turned the UND program around and she and her sister hope to be part of it.

The twins are candidates for the 2010 U.S. Olympic team. If they make the Olympic team, they likely will take online classes full-time so they will be eligible to play for the Sioux in 2010-11.

May 28, 2009

Now this is interesting, but I have no idea what to make of it...

From Nathan M. Hansen's blog:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Minnesota Supercomputer Institute and DNA collected from Minnesota newborns, a Data Practices Act Request to the University of Minnesota.

During the course of my ongoing investigation of what happens to DNA bloodspots collected by the Minnesota Department of Health, I have learned that the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute at the University of Minnesota has been working in conjunction with the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics.

In accordance with this information I have received, I have drafted two new data practices act requests to the University of Minnesota. One deals with the intellectual property created at the Cargill Building for Microbial & Plant Genomics, which appears to become property of Cargill. The other request deals with the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute and asks for the following information...

Mr. Hansen then outlines the specifics of his request, please see the link above for more informatin.

It appears that there is much, much more to the collection and dissemination of DNA collected from Minnesota's Newborns. The Department of Health has not mentioned anything about the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute in its prior replies to my data practices act requests about studies being conducted with our DNA.

Whether DNA is "de-identified" or not, it is still our property. These studies being conducted without our consent or knowledge is beyond demeaning to human dignity. One wonders if the Democrats who fought so hard to try and increase the power to confiscate our DNA this prior legislative session are aware of these studies that are being conducted with the DNA of Minnesota infants. It's not just about a quick genetic test to look for obscure genetic diseases, it's about a huge multi-million dollar operation involving the State of Minnesota, the private Mayo Clinic, and other private multinational companies.

It should be very interesting to see how all this sorts out.

Full disclosure: I am a fellow of the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute and active in its research and educational mission.

And Another One Bites the Dust, Grassley Strikes Again...


From the Wall Street Journal:

Chuck Grassley is beating the conflict-of-interest drum again.

The latest doctor to draw attention from the Iowa senator is Jeffrey Wang, chief of spine surgery at UCLA, who Grassley says didn’t inform the school of $459,500 Wang was paid from 2004 to 2007. Wang and UCLA declined to comment on Grassley’s letter.

Grassley has made a habit of highlighting cases in which he says doctors have held back information about their payments. Another recent example is that of University of Texas psychiatry professor Karen Wagner, who he said didn’t report to UT funds such as speakers fees received from GlaxoSmithKline.

He has been repeatedly pushing this issue because he wants a national law that would require disclosure of payments that doctors receive from industry. Even as states, universities and industry move to make their own disclosure rules more stringent, Grassley is making a case that in many cases, the rules and enforcement are inadequate.

Companies that made payments such as consulting and speaking fees to Wang included medical-device makers Medtronic and FzioMed and the DePuy unit of Johnson & Johnson. Grassley says Wang “consistently checked no” on UCLA disclosure forms when asked whether he had received income of $500 or more from companies funding his clinical research. All three companies were sponsoring research by Wang at the time of the payments, WSJ reports. Grassley says UCLA told him that Wang “erred in completing” the disclosures.

J&J and FzioMed declined to comment. Medtronic said it wasn’t in a position to know whether Wang had followed his employers conflict-of-interest rules, but that his agreement has expired and hasn’t been renewed.

What can I say? We continue to fiddle at the U of M. Frank is in no hurry. Gak!

The U's approach lately to problems seems to be just to ignore them. For a good illustration of this strategy, see double dippers.

The Noose Tightens in California?

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

May 27, 2009
State Lawmakers Challenge Autonomy of U. of California's Regents

Oakland, Calif. — A bipartisan group of California lawmakers has proposed a state constitutional amendment that would subject the University of California to direct legislative oversight for the first time in its history.

The university system’s Board of Regents has long held constitutional autonomy from the Legislature, giving it the sole authority to make governance decisions. The proposed amendment, which was introduced on Tuesday in both houses of the Legislature, would remove that autonomy starting in 2011. The Legislature already has similar oversight of the California State University system.

Supporters of the proposal said they were fed up with high salaries for administrators and rising tuition at the University of California. Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat and a longtime critic of the university, said the university’s leaders were not being held accountable to the public.

“Their arrogance and autocratic attitude has got to stop,” Mr. Yee said in comments quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. “This is a public institution, it’s not a private club for anyone. We’re leaving it to the regents to run the UC, but it ought to be responsive to the people and the state Legislature.”

Sound familiar?

May 27, 2009

It's the People, Stupid...

(Or, when will they ever learn, Part II)

Gary Schwitzer has called attention to this post by the Minnesota Nurses Association on his health news blog.

Hospital Staffing Cuts - Pragmatic or Planned?

Minnesota Nurses Association, the union representing more than 20,000 Registered Nurses in 89 bargaining units across the state, has received demands from nine hospitals to reopen contracts regarding wages.

In the metro area, more than 100 MNA members have been laid off from their jobs since December 2008. The economic situation sounds dire as employers raise concerns about rising uncompensated care, proposed state budget cuts and dips in census and investments.

"We’re not buying it," said MNA President Linda Slattengren.

"North Memorial Hospital, where I work, enjoyed a nearly $179 million net profit over the last six years said Pam Scott, RN. "But due to decisions like purchasing NowCare for $3 million in 2008 and reporting a $4 million loss in the latest financial statement, we have our doubts about the wisdom of administrative choices. "My question: Isn’t the purpose of reserves to accommodate more unexpected circumstances, such as economic pressures?"

The medical arms race is alive and well in Minnesota, as hospitals have rushed to compete with each other by providing the latest gadgetry or architecturally-inspired surroundings.

"They’ve projected at least $300 million in construction costs for the next three years at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics," said Melissa Hansing, RN, MNA Tri-Chair and staff nurse in Children’s emergency department.

[And the U of M/Fairview is putting up a new children's hospital at around $200 milion... That's for a hundred beds.]

"My questions: Bricks and mortar may impress financiers, but what is going on behind the walls? Aren’t critically ill patients being attended to by overworked, fatigued nursing personnel who simply do not have enough colleagues on each shift?

How do you justify cutting corners on skilled personnel at the bedside, when studies conclusively prove the increased risk to patients when staffing is not adequate?"

The claim that patient volume is down conceals the fact that nurses are working with a much sicker, more complex patient population. The Medicare Case-Mix Index (MCI) reflects the increased intensity (sometimes called severity) or hospital resource requirements of treating Medicare patients over time.

Methodist Hospital’s recent financial disclosure, available at munifilings.com, reveals the disturbing evidence. "In the last quarter, Methodist Hospital saw their MCI increase 5.3% over 2007’s 4th quarter," said Margaret Gamble, RN. "My question: how do hospital accountants expect nurses to speed up healing time?"

"When we all pitch in, we’ll make things better," they claim.

Our question: what cuts in salary have the administrative staffs taken recently?"

[A familiar question here at the U of M?]

On every shift, nurses witness waste and misuse of resources. "We have offered cost-saving suggestions time and time again, but it is the consultants who invariably capture the ear of decision-makers," said Ms. Slattengren. "My question: When will they learn?"

Using the economic crisis as an excuse to reduce labor costs of the hospital’s core assets is a short-term temptation that will lead to higher costs and compromised care. The members of MNA challenge hospital executives throughout Minnesota to use clear-eyed, far-sighted courage to keep the interests of patients above the profit margin.

Executive Vice Dean Named For Medical School

From a blanket E-mail of Dr. Frank Cerra:

I'm pleased to announce that Mark S. Paller, M.D., M.S., will serve in the role of Executive Vice Dean in the Medical School beginning July 1, 2009.

Mark Paller has a strong history of leadership within both the Medical School and Academic Health Center during his 27 years with the University of Minnesota.

I have worked closely with Mark over the past decade and greatly value his ability to develop simple, focused solutions to complex problems. Throughout our tenure together at the University, Mark and I frequently have had spirited discussions and debate about direction, decisions, or process. I have always respected his keen insight and dedication to supporting the core missions of the Medical School and University. I can't imagine anyone more qualified to serve the Medical School at this time in its history.

Frank B. Cerra, M.D.
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences
McKnight Presidential Leadership Chair

This appointment is telling. As was the appointment of Dr. Furcht to be co-chair of the conflict of interest committee.

Potential Problem For Campus Wide Smoking Ban?

I don't smoke. I hate smoke. Nevertheless I do not support a campus-wide (outdoor) smoking ban.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

May 27, 2009

Labor Board Overrules Campus-Smoking Ban at 14 Pennsylvania Universities

After eight long months, smokers on 14 college campuses in Pennsylvania can light up once again.

Pennsylvania’s Labor Relations Board last week overturned a new policy that had banned smoking — both indoors and outside — across the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, The Patriot-News, a Harrisburg newspaper, reported. The labor board, reversing a ruling by a hearing examiner, said that government and other public-sector employers, including colleges and schools, had no authority to prohibit smoking without negotiating the matter with, and gaining the consent of, their unions.

Unallotment Blues, Governor Rings U's Bell

U could face up to $86 million in unallotments

From the Daily:

No budget deal means the governor will balance the state deficit himself.

The University of Minnesota could receive a 13 percent cut in state funding when Gov. Tim Pawlenty uses his power of unallotment to balance the state’s budget.

The Republican Governor could cut the University’s budget by about $146 million over two years, which could result in a maximum of 13 percent tuition increases or job cuts of between 400 and 750 University employees, University President Robert Bruininks said before a legislative committee May 16.

“The maximum [Pawlenty] could unallot us, because it’s tied in with federal stimulus requirements, is around $86 million,” Pfutzenreuter [chief financial officer] said. “It’s more likely to be around $73 million.”

Pawlenty’s action might not affect the 2009-10 budget, which Pfutzenreuter said he must submit by June 12 as well.
“I’m speculating, but I don’t think there will be an impact on the first year of the biennium,” he said. “I hope [Pawlenty] acts sooner rather than later so we can set up our budgets.”

Bell Museum

Pawlenty struck down $24 million in funding for a new Bell Museum of Natural History on the St. Paul campus during this Legislative session.

This is the second year in a row that the Legislature has passed and Pawlenty has vetoed Bell Museum funding.

University officials are looking into how much it would cost to repair parts of the aging building
where a water main broke around Christmas that could have destroyed an exhibit, Weller [museum director] said.

“We could be patched up,” Weller said. “It’s not a long term solution to simply put some quick patches on.”

Bruininks asked Weller to estimate the cost of repairs to be the old building, should the University decide to pursue that route over bringing the bonding request to the Capitol in future sessions.

How about an old-fashioned renovation of the building? You know, the kind we should have done already with Folwell Hall? Has historic preservation gone out of fashion at the U of M? More chardonnay taste on a beer budget?

May 26, 2009

When, if ever, is the University of Minnesota Administration Going to Learn?


From the U of M legislative network:

U of M advocates played an essential role this year in getting
people to think about the future of the U. No truer sign of this
was seen than during the last week of the 2009 legislative
session. Advocates' praise and concerns about the U's
place in our state remained part of the legislative dialogue
well after our last action alert, and surely helped to mitigate
the cuts the U received.

[Cough, cough, what about unallotment?]

Their advocacy also helped get the Bell Museum project to the
governor's desk for the second year in a row as part of a
supplemental bonding package. While the Bell project did not
make the final cut, the U received $25 million for building
preservation and restoration as well as $2.5 million for a solar
research lab.

Asking for the Bell bonding was ARROGANT.

As the Daily puts it:

"The University shares some blame for showing fiscal imprudence; sending a funding request for an unnecessary Bell Museum was [an] arrogant move."

Tuition Assistance Alone May Not Be Enough...

From the Indystar:

At Indiana and Purdue universities, new scholarship programs have been put into place to bolster the accounts of 21st Century Scholar students, needy students who qualify for four years of tuition-free education, but not housing expenses and textbooks. The new scholarships will take care of those expenses, too.

May 24, 2009

How to make medical school more affordable?

“Decreasing the duration of medical education offers the greatest potential for reducing the financial burden of medical education.

May 22, 2009

A Preview of Coming Attractions? California Governor Proposes Eliminating State's Main Student-Aid Program

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

May 22, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California has proposed phasing out the state’s main student-aid program, a move that would eliminate grants for more than 100,000 students each year and would mark a historic downgrading in the affordability of California’s colleges and universities.

The proposal, announced on Thursday, would close the Cal Grant program, one of the country’s most generous state-run student-aid programs, to help California deal with a $24-billion budget deficit. The governor’s aides proposed the cutback at a budget hearing after saying that their previous plan — to borrow $5.5-billion — had been shortsighted.

Under the new plan, students who have Cal Grants would keep them until they graduated, but no new grants would be issued, saving an estimated $180-million immediately and more than $900-million as the program was phased out, according to the Los Angeles Times. The governor’s proposal is tentative and could be changed as lawmakers adopt a budget.

Student-aid advocates in California were at a loss for words to describe the potential effect of losing the student-aid program, which was started in 1956.

“It’s devastating, it’s stunning, it’s mind-boggling the impact that this would have,” said Edie Irons, a spokeswoman for the Institute for College Access & Success. “It’s hundreds of thousands of students that would be affected, and it would just ripple across the state.”

The message here is that if we get our act together and re-set our priorities in accord with our land grant mission, we may indeed be better off than a lot of places. Of course this would take some eating of humble pie and an awareness of the still horrible financial abyss in front of us.

The time for hubris is over. Denial is no longer an option.

Health Cuts Defy All Logic


From Minnesota 2020 (slightly edited):

By Elizabeth Rich

MN2020 Graduate Research Fellow

If you live in Minnesota and have listened to the radio, seen a television, or passed by a newspaper in the past week, you may have noticed blaring headlines. Something along the lines of "Budget Cuts" and "The End of Minnesota." Ok, maybe you haven't see that headline, but for many people in Minnesota, it will feel that way.

Minnesota has a budget shortfall.

About 6 billion, give or take a couple million.

The governor proposed cuts, the DFL controlled house and senate proposed a mix of budget cuts and tax increases.

Pawlenty rejected the proposals and came back with another one of his own. The DFL said no and came back with yet even more proposals.

Rinse and repeat.

This cycle went on for the entire legislative session, all the way up till midnight Monday. And then? Well, a whole lot of nothing. That is, of course, until it was announced that our governor was going to take it upon himself to "unallot" the budget for 2010-2011. That was, of course, after he line item vetoed the General Assistance Medical Fund.

The fund, known as the GAMC covers adults without children making less than 8,000 per year.

Often, they are mentally ill, or have medically debilitating diseases. Take a moment and try to imagine what life would be like if you only had 8,000 a year to spend on food, clothing, medical care, and various sundries that allow people to live.

Now imagine, if you can, your health insurance is taken away.

This means, of course you have to choose between 1 visit to the emergency room with diagnostics and x-rays or your "salary" for the year.

What would you do? Yeah, I wouldn't pay my bill either.

As you're imagining that you're way below the poverty level without health insurance, let's talk about what you are going to do for care. Since clinics and doctor's offices require co-pays up front and emergency rooms aren't allowed to turn people away, tell me this:

Where are you going to go for your care? Your meds?

That's right, the emergency room.

Now, it gets more complicated. Pretend you're a hospital.

People are coming in without health insurance. And for the sake of the argument, let's say, oh about 35,000 of them (the amount of people on GAMC). And you are required to provide care. But now there's no reimbursement. So you are stuck with the bill, which can run into the tens of thousands for a single patient.

Now, you are that same hospital, and you get a call. Something about the Minnesota budget shortfall and cuts to your state funding. Something like several percentage points of your funding. This is on top of the lack of GAMC funding. So you start to look where you can cut your budget. There's no fat left to trim, so necessary services are the first to go. And with the necessary services, jobs go.

So you are forced to explore some more drastic options. Like shutting down that urgent care clinic. Or affiliated nursing home. Or shuttering altogether. Which means even those with insurance will no longer have the option of services from you.

Now, let's make my philosophy teacher proud.

* If we cut funding to the people who need it most, then they will be forced to go to the hospitals.

* If more uninsured people go to the hospitals, then the hospitals will have to absorb the cost.

* If hospitals have to absorb the cost of the newly uninsured population, then they will have to pull the money out of their freshly cut budgets.

* If they have to find the money, drastic things will happen. Which could mean drastic cuts to services for even those among us with health insurance.

THEREFORE, if we don't insure the poorest of the poor, then even those of us with health insurance will lose services.

Since Pawlenty vetoed the GAMC, this little scenario isn't a philosophy class hypothetical. This is what quite possible will happen. And I don't know about you, but I am scared.

I'm scared that there's nothing I can do as I watch the state that I have grown to love face some seriously dark days. Scared that hundreds of our world-class practitioners will have to look for greener pastures since there's no monetary green to keep them here. Scared that people will have to travel 100 miles in the rural areas to get help when they need it most, or to visit a loved one in a nursing home because the closest one was forced to close.

I don't want to see this state fall further down the rabbit hole and into an anti-wonderland
filled with the sick, the ones who need health care most. Because in the end, the harm that this decision will cause will outweigh the $381 million that it will save, not to mention the cost to our state sanity.

And when we have to answer to future Minnesotans, the conversation won't be pretty.

May 21, 2009

Dr. Cerra Circumlocutes on the Issue of a Dedicated Med School Dean


Three Minnesota Vice-Deans discuss strategy while waiting to meet with the Executive Vice-Dean who is in conference with the Dean (aka VP for Health Sciences).

And so it goes with the management team at the University of Minnesota medical school..

from Frank Cerra

to MED-ALL@oris2.ahc.umn.edu

date Wed, May 20, 2009

subject Transition Update and Response to Questions

One of the questions I continue to hear involves the roles and responsibilities of the Dean in contrast to that of the new Executive Vice Dean. Underlying the question, there appears to be a concern that the Medical School deserves the attention of a full-time Dean.

Let me clearly state that the University of Minnesota's Medical School will have a dedicated Dean, as well as a dedicated Executive Vice Dean and an administrative leadership team devoted to the success of the Medical School.

As Dean, my role will be focused on the executive and longer term strategic functions
of the Medical School, providing internal policy and strategic direction, while ensuring its external relationships are strong and effective and are promoting programmatic growth and financial stability.

The Executive Vice Dean role will be focused on the critical day-to-day operations of the Medical School. These operating functions will be assisted by three vice deans (education, research and clinical affairs) who will focus on implementation of the tri-partite mission and the service functions that support it.

Frank B. Cerra, M.D.
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences
McKnight Presidential Leadership Chair

There, doesn't that make you feel better?

Well, no. An obvious question is: Where does the buck stop?

The U of M med school will have a dedicated Dean?

Is that you, Dr. Cerra? Doesn't sound like it. You have other responsibilities in addition to being dean, so one would have to conclude that you are NOT a dedicated dean.

We were supposedly going to join your present job with the dean's job, thus saving on administration. But it sounds like we will now have an Executive Vice-Dean and three other Vice-Deans. Wow, that's progress?

Please see the old Abbot and Costello piece entitled: Who's on first?

President Bruininks Reacts to Unallotment

From a mass-emailing on behalf of President Bruininks:

Make no mistake: the University is being cut substantially. We are facing a cut to our state budget base of 7% or $104M, with a likely additional unallotment that will take us to 13% or $178M. You'll likely hear smaller cuts quoted in the media--these quoted numbers are inaccurate, because they rely on federal stimulus dollars that disappear after 2010-11, leaving the University and the state facing a steep cliff in the next biennium. In other words, the quoted cuts are temporary; the real reduction is permanent.

I want to assure you that the University continues to plan not only for the biennium, but also for our long-term future. Our budget principles and priorities--including maintaining our quality and competitiveness, retaining and rewarding faculty and staff, increasing productivity, and improving financial access for students--remain unchanged, because our goal is still a strong University.

Yes, it is Bob, and always has been for most of us. This requires setting priorities in line with our resources. The top three goal has been an unmitigated disaster as well as other delusions of grandeur. They reek of hubris and do not serve us well in obtaining support from the citizens of the state.

And you know that I am not a Johny-come-lately to this theme, please see:

"Can BigU become GreatBigU?" (2007)


"We have no money, therefore we must think." (2008)



From the Strib:

U and Maturi will keep pushing funding limits

University of Minnesota officials will announce this morning that nearly $90 million has been raised from private sources for the new football stadium. The goal had been $86 million.

But they also will say they still need more.

May 20, 2009


From WCCO:

'U' Says It Has A $6M Donation For Stadium MINNEAPOLIS (AP) ―

The University of Minnesota says it has secured one whopper of a donation for the new TCF Bank Stadium.

The school announced on Tuesday that a donor has pledged $6 million to help push it over the initial fundraising goal of $86 million for the new outdoor football stadium on campus.

from Minnpost:

Bruininks spells out coming hard times at U

"There are not enough stimulus dollars to mitigate the cuts," Bruininks said, adding that the U was contemplating a double-digit tuition increase, perhaps as high as 15 percent.

Then the speaker and the president moved onto jobs. The U has already cut 1,000, and Bruininks figured another 500 to 700 job cuts would be necessary

It's about priorities, President Bruininks, and always has been. Please enjoy free chardonnay in your Twin City Federal Stadium box.

A California-style Hamburger and Hold the Fries...

5 California Ballot Measures Fail, Making Deeper Cuts to Higher Education Likely

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

San Francisco — California voters rejected five ballot measures on Tuesday that were designed to help close the state’s budget deficit, leaving its public colleges and universities facing additional cuts of up to 10 percent in the support they receive from the state.

The measures, Propositions 1A through 1E, were each rejected by more than 60 percent of voters. A sixth measure, to freeze salaries for lawmakers and other top state officials in deficit years, was overwhelmingly approved.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, proposed this month that the University of California and California State University systems each see a 10-percent reduction in state support if the deficit-closing measures failed. Federal stimulus funds would offset some of those cuts in the next fiscal year, but Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California, said last week that the cuts would still have a “devastating effect” on the university.

“If these cuts are implemented,” Mr. Yudof said, “we will have to look at a wide variety of unpleasant options to close our budget gap in the coming years — from enrollment and student-fee levels to class sizes, academic program offerings, and availability of campus services for students, in addition to pay reductions or furloughs for our employees.”

Community colleges would see a budget cut of about $800-million in state support under Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal, according to Scott Lay, president of the Community College League of California.

May 19, 2009

Trading Barbs on Twitter

From Twitter:

pawlenty DFL #mnleg failed to enact balanced budget or any reforms. Now flying around state to brag about it. What color is the sky in their world?

Minnesota My Minnesota sky is blue

mtg soon with cabinet members & staff re balancing budget & cleaning up mess left behind by DFL #mnleg. I won't raise taxes on MN citizens


Pawlenty is Tim Pawlenty, the governor of the state of Minnesota.

MAK is Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Hard Times

From Minnpost:

Bruininks spells out coming hard times at U

The metaphor couldn't have been more apt as Robert Bruininks, president of the University of Minnesota, hobbled into room 112 at the Capitol Saturday to explain what some $190 million of cuts looming might mean to the U. Bruininks had a bum foot, and a little scooter to get around, but he was here to plead his case nonetheless.

Bruininks, dressed in a dark U sweater vest and khakis, seemed to be a credible witness. He pointedly did not complain, but instead laid out a rather somber view of what cuts will mean not just to the university, but to the employment and economy of the state of Minnesota.

"He's gonna cut higher ed by $190 million," [state representative] Rukavina said, adding that some cuts might put federal stimulus money at stake. "That's just absolutely insane."

Bruininks was calmer than Rukavina, but no less sanguine.

Bruininks was nearly apologetic at the outset.

"At a time when the U is growing, we're not asking that the U be given a free ride," he began. "We need to do heavy lifting on our end."

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who chairs the legislative commission and increasingly has used it during the session as a venue for DFL policy points, asked Bruininks right away about the stimulus dollars. Would they help?

"There are not enough stimulus dollars to mitigate the cuts," Bruininks said, adding that the U was contemplating a double-digit tuition increase, perhaps as high as 15 percent. "We can't add very much. I don't want to burden our students and their families."

Then the speaker and the president moved onto jobs. The U has already cut 1,000, and Bruininks figured another 500 to 700 job cuts would be necessary.

"Some 70 percent of every dollar we spend at the University of Minnesota pays for someone," Bruininks said, meaning full-time, part-time and student employees. He said the U had already initiated early retirement incentives and a hiring freeze. (The total payroll, according to Bruininks, is about $2 billion.)

Heavy lifting at the U

Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria, wanted to know exactly what the U was doing as far as what Bruininks referred to as heavy lifting.

"I assure you that every department, Representative Kohls, has undergone a rigorous and disciplined review," Bruininks said. Kohls also wanted to know about budget reserves, which Bruininks said every department had, but that it amounted to one-time money, not enough to help over the next four years, which is the budget structure at the university.

"We've been aggressive in trying to solve revenue problems," Bruninks continued. "We've added 200 freshmen to the new class next year, but we're the second- or third-largest campus in the country, so we don't have much elasticity on enrollment, and neither does Duluth, for that matter."

Bruininks talked about the perils of seeking private and grant money in this economy, but added that tuition is "the quickest and easiest way" to make money.

Of course, he said that reluctantly. He noted that 80 percent of the U's funding comes from sources other than the state's coffers, and that, for the first time, the U's tuition would hit $100 million.

Besides students, there was research and innovation on the line.

"We need access and affordability, but we also need innovation,"
Bruininks asserted, adding that the U is among the top 10 universities in the country in bringing outside money to the state, and responsible for some $700 million and 25,000 jobs in the private sector. "We need to be a player. We could be a flyover state pretty easily."

The mood on the legislative commission was pretty grim — testimony from the MnSCU chancellor after Bruininks was equally bleak — as Kelliher concluded, "You never hear anyone say the answer to our future is less education."

But that, apparently, is what's in store.

Comment from Minnpost reader:

(#1) On May 18, 2009, Author Editor Dale Carlton says:

Terms like "pointedly did not complain" and "nearly apologetic" seem to be opposite of President Bruininks prior statements when he said he would go over to the Capitol if futher cuts in higher education were to be made. It seems that he was going to be forceful and perhaps angry about more cuts.

Not much leadership from the top at the University of Minnesota.

Our 24/7 CEO Makes Sid's Column

From Sid Hartman in the Strib:

Robert Bruininks, the sports-minded University of Minnesota president, suffered a broken ankle recently while riding a horse.

Let's hope for a couple of things:

1. That Bob make a speedy recovery.

2. That he focus his attention on things other than sports in the next few years.

A Fitting End To A Sad Story - The Last Day At the Legislature

No dice...

From the Pioneer-Planet:


Lawmakers adjourned at midnight Monday without closing the state's $2.7 billion budget gap. That leaves Gov. Tim Pawlenty the task of making the necessary cuts.

Give them an "I" for incomplete.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Minnesota Legislature had one big assignment to complete this year: Erase the state's budget deficit. But when time ran out on the 2009 session at midnight Monday, they had failed to get the job done.

They made some progress on closing the gap, but lawmakers are going home leaving a $2.7 billion hole in the next two-year budget.

Now, Pawlenty owns the problem. Last week, he offered to balance the budget by himself after the Legislature goes home, by cutting spending and delaying state aid payments to schools. He accepted that responsibility after vetoing a $1 billion DFL tax increase that would have wiped out much of the budget shortfall.

The session ended in chaos as the Senate and House adjourned at the stroke of midnight. With minutes to go before the constitutional deadline, DFLers in both chambers introduced and rammed through a $1 billion tax-increase bill they knew Pawlenty would veto. They wanted to demonstrate they could pass a budget-balancing bill, even if it was dead on arrival at the governor's desk.

Republicans who rose to object were muzzled by the House speaker and Senate president, so they shook their fists and bellowed in anger at the DFLers.

"This is an absolute disgrace," said Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester.

May 17, 2009

A Sad Day in Minnesota

From the Star-Tribune:

A partisan divide over health care for poor

By Lori Sturdevant

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has apparently succeeded in making Minnesota's decades-long, bipartisan commitment to basic health care for the indigent poor a partisan issue.
On a straight party-line 87-47 vote, the Minnesota House Sunday fell three votes short of the votes needed to override Pawlenty's May 14 veto of a $380 million/year health care program for adults with incomes less than $7,800 per year.

No Republican broke ranks to continue the program past July 1, 2010, when the veto would have it disappear. That's so despite word from the state's safety-net hospitals that they will begin layoffs immediately to prepare for the compensation they will lose with the elimination of the program. For Hennepin County Medical Center, the expected loss is a whopping $108 million in fiscal 2011.

DFLers warned that depriving the poor of routine medical care would only cost society more, as those now covered by the vetoed program seek medical care at costly emergency rooms. But money was not the focus of the House debate; morality was. This somber, emotion-laden debate seemed to be about Minnesota's soul. DFLers invoked Scripture and, in some instances, shed tears as they pleaded with Pawlenty's fellow Republicans to put politics aside and vote to preserve health care for "the least of these." They pointed out that the bulk of the program's beneficiaries suffer from mental illness, chemical dependency, and chronic disorders including diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.

Some Republicans said they would uphold Pawlenty's position in hope that it would lead to changes that would slow the growth in state health care spending. Others said the veto would not have been necessary if DFLers had not funded so many programs of lesser priority. That position begs the question: why weren't those lower-priority programs the targets of the governor's veto, instead of a program that has made a life-or-death difference to the poor?

From Twittter:

PatKessler House DFL Majority fails to override TPaw veto of medical assistance to the poor. 87 yes, 47 no.... party line vote falls three short.

PoliticsMNRT @KTAndrea: I'm a little bit stunned.I'm a fifth generation Mn...we always look aftr our neighbors. Today, that value was thrown under a bus

PatKessler Growing sense: Hse Dems not interested in joining TPaw to cut budget for peeps they represent. 'he thinks he can cut it himself? let him.'

Children, children...



Hse Spkr Kelliher claims T-Paw blocked her on Twitter. Gov insider says: Not true... he's just not tweeting HER.

Agreement Seems Like a Long Shot at This Point...

From Mary "the Hammer":

Sunday Stalemate

The Capitol hallway chatter this weekend was interesting.

Here's a bunch of lobbyists glued to the TV, not with legislative action, but baseball was the broadcast of choice in the hallway.

At this spot a senior senator told me "there won't be a deal" despite the governor and leaders trading offers all night and morning.

The sense of many Capitol hallway dwellers was that House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher was the one who really needs and wants a deal. As a senator said, "she can't run for governor without a deal." But if she could stage another override that could boost her profile again.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller was clear his caucus would not support something "that's not in the best interest of the state." Senators seem fine with giving Gov. Pawlenty plenty of rope to make tough cuts and beat him up all summer. They do not want a repeat of the year they gave in to the governor and helped Republicans pass big budget cuts.

If nothing is happening today as far as serious negotiation, things look pretty bleak for a reasonable settlement by midnight tomorrow. Lots of people are going to get hurt - including the governor.

Swells Upset? No Swill...

Our swivel-hipped administration reverses field, again, maybe...

The geniuses in our administration are suffering the consequences of their ill-conceived liquor policy for the House that Bob built.

From WCCO:

'U' Reverses Plans: No Alcohol At Gopher Stadium

The University doesn't want to encourage underage drinking, so it doesn't intend to sell alcohol in general admission seats, where 20 percent of the fans are students.

Gopher football fans who forked over big dough for premium seats in the new on-campus stadium are fuming.

Before signing ticket contracts, they were told alcohol was part of the package. But now the University of Minnesota is threatening to make the whole stadium dry after state lawmakers said all fans should be able to buy a beer, or none of them.

Some season ticket holders are now feeling cheated.

Jennifer Egertson was among the first to buy premium outdoor club seats in the new TCF bank stadium.

"The tickets are expensive. I decided I was with that, but it was the amenities that were compensating for a lot of the extra cost. Definitely the private bar," she said.

"That wasn't my primary focus but it was an amenity," continued Egertson.

But after the vote to allow liquor sales throughout the stands or not at all, University administrators decided to have a dry stadium.

"I just signed a contract, paid and now they are pulling the amenities away. It doesn't seem like they're considering the loyalty of people the paying all this money," added Egertson.

University officials say nothing is written in stone yet.

"We'll be looking at the whole range of options that are before us after this law passes," said University of Minnesota spokesman Daniel Wolter.

The U doesn't want to encourage underage drinking, so it doesn't intend to sell alcohol in general admission seats, where 20 percent of the fans are students.

But some ticket holders argue the U had no problem selling alcohol at the Metrodome for the more than 20 years the team played there with thousands of students in the stands.

The U says the Dome sold the beer and it's not on campus.

What a sad excuse for leadership. It was ok for beer to be sold in the student section - everywhere - at University of Minnesota football games because the Dome sold it and not the U? The games weren't on campus so alcohol is ok. What a joke. There is already alcohol on campus and it is being sold and these folks know it. Trying to draw a distinction of the type our administration is peddling is absurd.

What they should have said from the beginning is: No alcohol, nowhere, in the House that Bob built because the U of M is concerned with the very serious alcohol problems among college students.

But no, that would have taken some courage and leadership. However could we compete with the Twins and the Vikings for the money of the high-rollers? Maybe we shouldn't...

At least a couple of Regents understood this point.

Prediction: Free swill for swells. U can then claim that no alcohol is sold in the house that Bob built.

Leadership Change and The Funding Situation

The financial situation at the U is now officially in the train-wreck category.


in the Strib:

by Lori Sturdevant

Higher ed leaders plead for state's future

A marker of the sorry state that Minnesota is in was the scene in Capitol Room 112 at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The president of the University of Minnesota and chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities were hastily summoned to meet with legislative leaders and plead to be spared an additional $190 million spending cut proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Their pleas were not only for their institutions, but for this state's future. In the global economic competition of coming decades, Minnesota's greatest strength is its well-educated workforce. That's at risk, if Pawlenty's new proposed cuts are added to the $60 million in higher education reductions already approved by the Legislature this year.

The cuts the Republican governor proposed Saturday would be in league with the ones adopted in 2003. That squeeze in state money was followed by four years of double-digit tuition increases. That wouldn't be possible, if the tuition cap included in the omnibus higher education bill holds. What's more, said Chancellor James McCormick, "the debt levels of some of our students is a very serious problem for our future in Minnesota." This time, the likely options for MnSCU and the University of Minnesota would run more heavily toward faculty layoffs, program elimination, and enrollment caps. When asked about the option of closing a campus, McCormick said "everything has to be on the table."

Pawlenty is asking the DFL-controlled Legislature to agree to his proposed cuts. But implicit in his proposal is the alternative he originally proposed, borrowing $1 billion against future revenues. That's a fiscally irresponsible choice, rejected by the House recently on a 131-2 vote. What's becoming apparent is that by rejecting any tax increase to help close the state's $6.4 billion budget gap, Pawlenty is inviting legislators to choose between the irresponsible and the unconscionable.

Some of the blame for this situation goes to our fearless leaders. Standing around waiting to see what happened this year is unconscionable. Asking for Bell funding in light of the terrible economic situation is lunacy and makes us look greedy and arrogant. Our leaders apparently do not understand symbolism or pr.

Where was the concern about student debt in years gone by? Questions about it were repeatedly blown off.

Why are we making noises - and spending money - on the ridiculous on its face "ambitious aspirations to be one of the top three public universities in the world"?

Can anyone say MoreU Park? Northrup renovation? Driven to Discover? Twin City Federal Stadium? Three new biomedical research buildings?

We are about to fall off an economic cliff. Perhaps President Bruininks should resign effective next June and we should start a NATIONAL search for new leadership? Two years from now, when the bottom really falls out - end of stimulus funding - is not the time for some poor soul to start his/her presidency of the U of M.

May 16, 2009

Bell Museum Gets Whacked - Surprise, Surprise...

tomscheck (twitter):

McClung: HEAPR, Intracity Rail, Flood mitigation safe in bonding bill. Bell Museum gets whacked. Don't have veto letter yet.

Wake up, folks. The Bell should never have been in this bill.

Hellzapoppin, U and MNSCU screwed?

From Twitter:

supporttheu Unallotment would result in 15-18 percent tuition increase (http://bit.ly/Jmg6z) plus up to 750 #UMN jobs lost, Pres. Bruininks testifies.

PoliticsMN MAK concludes public Higher Ed: "You never hear anyone say the answer to our future is less education". Sad because it's true

sturdevant Shades of 2003: gov's higher ed cut is in that league.

PoliticsMNRT @repterrymorrow: Mnscu possibly looking at 5% tuition increase in 1st year and, under Governor plan, a 12% increase in the 2nd year.

PoliticsMN Pogemiller: The Legislature cut deeper into higher ed upfront - Gov offered $38M cut the first time, and now he slashed the heck out of it

PoliticsMN Now, Chancellor McCormick RT @repterrymorrow: Bruinicks--"we can't take the next two years off at the University of Minnesota"

sturdevant U's ability to compete for research (jobs) is on the line.

tomscheck Buininks: Pawlenty's proposed cuts "would be really savage and severe and would cost the state money."

sturdevant A sorry state: the prez of our great U pleading for his school's financial health at 5:30 p.m. Sat.

PatKessler UM Pres Bruininks comes off disabled list: appears to have broken right ankle or foot in cast. Difficulty getting to witness table

PoliticsMN Bruininks: Taconite, medical devices, honeycrisp apples. keep higher ed vibrant strong. Kohls: are there budget reserves? Bruininks: yeah

sturdevant Gov's cuts would hit higher ed hard -- 190M over 2 years. There goes the Brainpower State.

PatKessler At MN Leg budget hearing: UM President Bruiniks sez budget cuts 'devastating.' Estimates 15%-18% tuition increase, up to 750 job cuts

PoliticsMN $6.6M is a percent increase in tuition. It would be an intolerable level to hike 15%, couldnt come up w much federal stimulus $$$

PoliticsMN $60M was already cut to university - Pogie: this is tripling the cuts (that the DFL already did) Pappas: if we release from cap, 15% HIKE

PoliticsMN MAK: What happens to tuition if this gets layered on with the work now in conference cmte? Pogie: we've already cut higher ed

PoliticsMN Bruininks: what happens in the next 2 years, then the 2 years after, when the federal stimulus money isn't going to be around....

PoliticsMN RT @martigal: U of M's Bruininks: "This is a huge budget reduction." on Pawlenty's offer, cutting $190m from higher ed. #mnleg

PoliticsMN This budget process is going to cause a lot of federal stimulus matching funds to disappear, how handled?? Now: Bruiniks on tuition hikes...

PoliticsMN Now turning to Sen Pappas & the U's Robert Bruininks on the big cuts to the U in the offing ($190M cut from Higher Ed)

Two Days Until.... Legislative Update

From Politics in Minnesota:

5:25 p.m. update: University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks is explaining that the governor's proposed cuts to higher education ($190 million) would have huge repercussions, with possible tuition hikes of 15% to 18%. Rep. Paul Kohls (R-Victoria) wonders if they have budget reserves, and Bruininks explains that all the units in the University are going to tap their budget reserves. DFL House Speaker Margaret Kelliher lauds his balanced approach of raising some revenue through tuition hikes, budget cuts and use of the one-time reserves.

Two and a half days until...

Maybe a rabbit will emerge from the hat, but right now it doesn't look likely.

I watched Almanac last night. It seemed that the DFL heads of the House and Senate might have a mini-caucus and decide on a united strategy. Their attitudes about this situation seem strangely different. A strongly unified position might give them more leverage. A healthy minority is a good thing, but a legislature incapable or unwilling to override a veto seems to place too much power in the hands of the governor. Especially this one who may have delusions of being a player on the national political stage. Solving our problems on the back of an envelope at this late date is very unwise. We will be paying for these mistakes long after Governor Pawlenty has moved on to greener pastures. Minnesotans have a tendency to take it out hard on governors who mess up.

This latest behavior exposes tremendous arrogance and lack of concern for the public good.

From the Strib:

Pawlenty hammers DFL leadership -- again

Governor's appointees offered few specifics on his plans as legislators tried to gauge his plans for line-item vetoes.

DFL leaders in the Legislature tried to catch their breath and regroup Friday, checking off several items on their legislative to-do list while struggling to figure out just how Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unilateral budget-balancing act might work.

But there was little information to extract from Pawlenty's commissioners as they sat before the Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy, the forum that House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher has used for much of the session to grill officials of the administration.

Late Friday, Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, sent Pawlenty a letter clarifying their plan to erase the deficit and balance the budget. They proposed to use $1 billion in new ongoing revenues, an education accounting shift, and additional cuts as needed.

"The drama that has resulted from your press conference could have been avoided if you had talked to us beforehand," the leaders wrote. "Nevertheless, we agree that there is ample time to come to an agreement that balances the budget in the coming biennium."

The leaders and Pawlenty are scheduled to meet late this morning in the governor's office to negotiate in hopes of reaching a budget deal.

"You cannot spend more than you have, and they did it," Pawlenty said of the DFL leaders. If they don't close that gap, he said, "we'll fix it for them."

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, DFL Sen. Tarryl Clark said Pawlenty's decision to balance the budget on his own amounts to an extraordinary power play. She argued that "these problems are too huge for him to be going it alone."

Thursday night, the governor line-vetoed $381 million from a $10.7 billion health and human services bill, money that would fund the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program for 35,000 impoverished childless adults in the year starting July 2010.

The other budget-balancing tool cited by Pawlenty, called "unallotment," would allow him to cut authorized spending if it exceeded projected revenues for the next two-year budget period, starting July 1.

At one point, Hanson reviewed potential cuts to local government aid and remarked, "This is what it will look like if the governor has to act."

"It sounds like a threat, Commissioner Hanson," Kelliher said.

Brock Nelson, president and CEO of Regions Hospital, said that if Pawlenty carried through with elimination of GAMC, "the impact would be devastating."

Regions would lose $35 million in 2010 and $60 million in 2011, he said, a loss that could trigger the shutdown of services most used by those on assistance.

Burn units, mental health services and emergency services could become too unprofitable to maintain, he said.

"I've been in this community since 1976," he said. "This is the worst threat I've ever seen in my professional career."

Nothing good is going to come of this fiasco. As with the University of Minnesota, leadership matters. It will be hard to evade responsibility for this likely disaster.

Time to grow up?

Hawaii Similiar to Minnesota?

From the Honolulu Advertiser:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Robert J. Jones, a candidate for University of Hawai'i president, says there are a lot of similarities between his home state of Minnesota and Hawai'i. Not really. Their state bird is the mosquito and ours is the middle finger.

And the quote of the week ... from Honolulu Symphony board member Valerie Ossipoff at the orchestra's final performance of the year: "The musicians and staff of the Honolulu Symphony have been working without pay for nearly three months. Who do you know who could, or would, do that?" That was the cue for legislators in the audience to stare at their shoes.

May 15, 2009

Yes, We Can!

Driven to Discover? One of the top blah, blah, blah?

The following release from the Ministry of Information
(i.e. University of Minnesota News Service) describes some activities of students at the U which demonstrate the tremendous potential of our students and the University to do great things in the world.

Such actions matter much more than empty sloganeering.

The University of Minnesota students, who collaborated with students from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, are winners of the first-ever Acara Challenge sponsored by the Minnesota-based Acara Institute, a non-profit institute that tackles global problems through sustainable business solutions.

The winning team, named ReachOut Water Solutions, includes:

• Brian Bell, a civil engineering undergraduate student in the university’s Institute of Technology;
• Karthikeyan Bharath Kumar, a landscape architecture graduate student in the university’s College of Design;
• Mark Lundgren, a civil engineering graduate student in the university’s Institute of Technology; and
• Tony Schrempp, a civil engineering undergraduate student in the university’s Institute of Technology.

The University of Minnesota students were joined by four teammates at Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay: Vivek Sharma, Bholu Ram Yadav, Shikha Pandey, and Jayendra Jadhav.

"We are proud to represent the University of Minnesota as the winners of this challenge," said Brian Bell, a member of the ReachOut Water Solutions team. "With help from mentors and professors, we were able to combine engineering and business in developing our plan. We are all very excited to have the opportunity to travel to India to begin the process of putting the plan into action."

Seven teams of university and high school students from Minnesota, Illinois and India participated in the Acara Challenge. The teams were assisted by mentors from Honeywell, 3M, Cargill, Medtronic, Siemens, Goodrich and many others United States and Indian organizations. The teams’ plans were presented earlier this week before a panel of judges comprised of leading technology and business leaders from the United States, Mexico and India. Judges evaluated the business plans for sustainability, technology feasibility and societal impact.

“It’s exciting for students when they can immediately apply what they learn in class, and the competition motivated them to exceed expectations,” said civil engineering professor John Gulliver, who taught the class Engineering Design for Sustainable Development in which the University of Minnesota teams developed their plans. “They could make a real difference in people’s lives.”

With support from Cargill and the Acara Institute, the winning University of Minnesota team is planning to leave on May 26 for a two-week trip to Mumbai where the team will assess the situation, talk with local customers and begin transforming their winning concept into reality.

Their plan addresses issues of water quality and availability for potentially hundreds of thousands of Mumbai residents. When implemented, their program will be housed in the Mumbai’s existing Slum Sanitation Program buildings, and use a pre-existing customer base and infrastructure. Their business will combine source water storage with ultraviolet water treatment and a novel distribution system that will supply 50 liters per day of clean, low-cost water to community participants, as well as 10 liters of potable water to pay-per-use customers at a reasonable rate.

"We congratulate the ReachOut team on their outstanding effort," said H.S. Murali, Cargill vice president of corporate plant operations/process technology and one of the Acara Challenge judges. "The team articulated a clear, long-term plan and implementation strategy that made good use of existing infrastructure.”

May 14, 2009

It's Not Over Until It's Over

From Politics in Minnesota

To hear the buzz around the Capitol following Gov. Tim Pawlenty's press conference this afternoon, you might think he had just mooted anything the Legislature could possibly do over the last four days of this session.

Not so.

There's still a $1 billion gap in the budget where all parties had assumed that either the governor's appropriation bond borrowing, the Legislature's omnibus tax package, or some equivalent compromise measure would be.

To fill it by himself, Pawlenty would have to find another $1 billion in cuts over and above the $1.5 billion in cuts he put forward in his original budget.

The liberal use of one-time money in the governor's budget--the cost shift, the appropriation bonds--proves that he's known from the start it was impossible to cut his way to balance without slitting his own throat in the process.

When the commission reconvened after Pawlenty's announcement and an impromptu response presser by Kelliher and House Majority Leader Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisholm), Kelliher seemed incredulous and very angry.

Much of the remainder of the meeting involved sparring across party lines between legislative DFLers not quite sure how to reclaim any leverage and Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson, who gave no sign that Pawlenty was prepared to budge on anything.

Regarding the education cost shift that the governor wanted and the Legislature did not pass, Hanson said the delayed payments could be accomplished by financial maneuvers that "mimic" a legislative cost shift.

When Kelliher pointed out the remaining $1 billion revenue gap to Hanson, he acknowledged it: "Yes, Madame Speaker, but it's not going to come by raising taxes. He's made that clear to me, and he's made that clear to you."

Sertich, who has had some of the angriest exchanges with Hanson in LCPFP, then spoke up: "Commissioner Hanson, you can keep telling us what [the $1 billion in revenue] is not, but that doesn't solve the problem. I can tell you what's not going to happen; that doesn't solve the problem."

Hanson: "Rep. Sertich, if you have another idea, we're listening."

Sertich: "Commissioner Hanson, you use words like 'agreement' and 'mutual' as if you mean them, and I don't believe you, quite honestly. What I hear you say on agreement is, we want you to agree with what the governor says, and if you don't do that, we'll go it alone. I don't share the optimism from around this table. I don't think this is funny.... If the governor goes it alone and has it his way, 113,000 Minnesotans will lose health insurance. Sixteen thousand Minnesotans will lose their jobs, and there will be cuts in education and higher tuition. That's not funny. That's not an agreement. I'm not optimistic."

Hanson: "Well, Rep. Sertich, your version of agreement is us doing exactly what you want."

Sertich: "That's not true. We're looking for compromise. We have compromised in many of these bills to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. We've cut more than you've cut. We've lowered our revenue [proposal] down to the revenue that the governor has stated is needed to balance this budget."

And that was more or less the tenor of the whole meeting. Before adjourning, Kelliher held out the possibility the commission might reconvene tonight, and said it certainly would by sometime Friday morning.

Because Pawlenty clearly does not want to incur the added political costs that would come with another $1 billion in cuts, there is almost certainly more haggling to come even if the governor goes the line-item-veto-and-unallotment route on all the other major bills. It also remains possible, though just barely, that some more encompassing compromise on the rest of the budget will be reached. But the absolute anger and bitterness of legislative DFLers today, coupled with the governor's cat-that-ate-the-canary triumphalism and intransigence, make that seem awfully unlikely at the moment.

But there are still four days to go.

Daily Campus Tweets Monopolized by Ministry of Information?


* Name Ryan Maus

* Location Minneapolis, Minn.
* Web http://www.unews....

• Bio PR rep at University of Minnesota

* Name Patty Mattern

* Location Minneapolis
* Web http://www1.umn.e...

* Bio U of Minnesota's national media/pr person

Kudos to OurProvost

Yes, you read that right!

Also from Minnpost:

"Great Conversations" does get price breaks, often when faculty members or U-friendly influentials like Walter Mondale personally lobby acquaintances. That was the case with yesterday's guest, Ken Starr, a pal of U of M provost Thomas Sullivan, whose fee was less than the cost of a night at the Bay Area resort where Friedman was housed.

Tommy, we hardly knew ya...

From Minnpost:

There's an entertaining dust-up in the journalism world today, when globe-trotting New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was forced to disgorge a $75,000 speaking fee for re-reading an online speech to a bunch of Bay Area bureaucrats.

Aside from the sheer jaw-drop that San Francisco's Clean Air District had 75 grand to spare on the Minnesota native, Friedman apparently ran afoul of Times policy limiting such paydays unless speaking to "educational and other nonprofit groups for which lobbying and political activity are not a major focus."

Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?


From the Strib:

The Legislature passed a bill Wednesday saying that if beer is sold in the new Gophers football stadium, it must be sold throughout the facility. The U wants to restrict sales to areas where students don't sit.

The beer standoff at the new Gophers stadium is coming to a head.

In a bill passed Wednesday in the Legislature, lawmakers said that if the University of Minnesota is going to sell beer in the stadium's premium seats, it will have to be sold everywhere -- from the luxury suites to the cheap seats.

But university officials don't want alcohol served where students are sitting. So if the governor signs the bill into law, university officials say they may scratch beer from being sold anywhere in the stadium.

"The University of Minnesota's goal is to provide a safe and enjoyable game day experience for all of our fans," university spokesman Daniel Wolter said in a statement. "We acknowledge legislators' concerns on this issue. However, at this time, the university does not intend to sell alcohol in the general seating area, where 20 percent of the fans are students."

The legislative mandate on beer sales in the Gophers' new stadium passed overwhelmingly on Wednesday as part of a larger higher-education budget bill.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, heralded the provision.

"It's good to know the Grey Poupon group in the corporate suites has the same access to adult beverages as the general admission crowd," he said.


The Grey Poupon crowd will still swill chardonnay and probably beer, but it will be free not sold.


May 13, 2009

First, Do No Harm

New Hippocratic Oath?

First, Do No Harm...

Then, Forge No Signatures

And Finally, Fudge Not Lest Ye Be Fudged

Another orthopedics scandal has recently surfaced. This one, unfortunately, has Medtronic and U of M connections. It is a good example of the fact that perhaps we need some outside input into conflict of interest pronouncements from people at the U of M. Dr. Cerra?

For a post on this subject please see: First, Do No Harm - on the Periodic Table.

Robert Jones Gives Views in Hawaii


From the Honolulu Advertiser

University of Hawaii presidential candidate Jones gives his views

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Education Writer

Robert J. Jones, senior vice president for system administration for the University of Minnesota and a top contender to become the University of Hawai'i's new president, admits he'll have plenty to learn about the state's unique cultural and political landscape should he be hired.

But Jones says he's already gained an understanding of some of the challenges that UH faces as a statewide system of seven community colleges and three universities.

"Higher education needs to start thinking differently about its future. Hawai'i is no different than Minnesota, where we've seen our state contribution to higher education dwindle," Jones said.

"It's not going to get any better anytime soon. Part of what the president of this system has to start to deal with is, 'What is the financial future of the University of Hawai'i system? What is that going to look like?' " Jones said.

After a nationwide search effort that began last fall and examined more than 600 potentially qualified higher education officials, Jones has emerged as one of the top two contenders to become the permanent president of UH's 10-campus system. The position will be vacated by current UH President David McClain on July 30.

M.R.C. Greenwood, the longtime chancellor of the University of California-Santa Cruz who later resigned amid controversy as provost of the UC system, is the other candidate being considered for the job.

Minnesota career

Jones, whose 18-year career in university administration has been spent in Minnesota, fielded questions from faculty and students at UH-Manoa yesterday during a town-hall style forum. It was the first in a series of four open forums to be conducted at UH campuses on Kaua'i, Maui and the Big Island.

UH-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw began the questioning by asking Jones to discuss his views on campus autonomy and how he viewed the role of a system administration.

Jones said he largely believes that the role of the system office is to support the various campuses in their missions. But he also said he would work to "eliminate redundancies" in jobs or functions being handled on the system and campus levels.

He said he'd work to "leverage resources in the system office to make the work and initiatives of the campus ... be achieved in a more significant fashion."

Maenette Benham, dean of the School of Hawaiian Knowledge, asked Jones how he would help to increase access to higher education for Native Hawaiian students.

"Your record of diversity is stellar," Benham said.

Prefacing his statement by pointing out that he still has a lot to learn about Native Hawaiian issues, Jones said his approach would likely be similar to initiatives to increase access to college education for minorities and economically disadvantage students.

"The reality is that higher education has for much too long acted as if the issue of underpreparation and lack of readiness to be successful in college is somehow not our problem," Jones said.

Instead, he said the university system should partner with the K-12 school system to change the perception among certain groups of students that a college education is not accessible.

Jill Nunokawa, civil rights officer in the UH-Manoa Chancellor's Office, asked Jones about his hiring practices and the criteria he would use to hire members of his administration.

Alluding to former UH President Evan Dobelle, and his hiring of former associates to high-paying positions in the president's office, Nunokawa said, "we've had a history of people coming in with their own people."

Jones said he is committed to hiring the "best and brightest."

"If you're going to be successful in this work, you have to hire folks who are very bright and not be threatened," Jones said.

UH presidential selection chairwoman Donna Tanoue said the committee is soliciting campus input on both candidates until May 18. The next scheduled Board of Regents meeting is May 29, which is the soonest a recommendation could be made to board members.

The general tenor of comments on the presidential search seems to be unhappiness that yet another pair of outsiders has been selected as finalists. This after previous presidents who have been outsiders have crashed and burned. And people are understandably disturbed by the fact that one of the candidates, not Dr. Jones, has some significant baggage.

The right outsider can, however, make quite a difference. I hope we keep this in mind as we look for our next president here at Minnesota.

May 12, 2009

NIH to Weigh In on COI - Maybe Some Folks at the U of M Will Finally Wake Up?


From the Daily:

Tell me a little bit about where we are with the conflicts of interest policy. I know there’s only one Regents meeting left. Where’s that at? [Daily reporter Emma Carew]

And then we’ll be ready to put this together and see what the new policy draft looks like, and begin to take it through the consulting process. I think we’re also in the midst of preparing a position statement on the value added from relationships between faculty and the institution and industry where there is really clear value added. [Academic Health Center VP, Dr. Frank Cerra]

And so what kind of timeline are you working on? Is there a goal for what Regents meeting you’d like to bring the policy to?

Not really.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

May 11, 2009
NIH Plans New Rules to Police Researchers' Financial Conflicts of Interest

Washington — After months of steady disclosures about financial conflicts of interest in scientific research, the National Institutes of Health is moving forward with a promise of tighter regulation.

The NIH has published a notice in the Federal Register saying it has begun the formal process of writing regulations to govern how institutions ensure their researchers aren’t biased by payments from outside companies.

“The increased interaction between government and the private sector in meeting common public-health goals, and recent public scrutiny, have raised the question of whether a more rigorous approach to investigator disclosure, management of conflicts, and federal oversight is required,” the NIH said in the notice.

The NIH itself may be part of the problem. An audit report last year by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services — the NIH’s parent agency — said that hundreds of financial conflicts of interest among university researchers were simply not being investigated by the NIH.

Agency leaders, in their promise of new regulations, make specific mention of their interest in a set of recommendations issued in February 2008 by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of American Universities.

Those recommendations include requiring that investigators conducting research on human subjects report to their institution all outside financial interests related to their professional responsibilities.

The NIH notice also raises the possibility of requiring institutions with 50 or more employees to form independent conflict-of-interest committees, and requiring that all grantee institutions submit “conflict-management plans.”

We have been stalling around for years over a conflict of interest policy in the AHC. Putting out a cya statement about the value of industry relations seems a waste of time at this point.

It is sad that an institution, with a Provost who thought that the Graduate School could be wiped out and replaced by an alternate vendor in a couple of months, cannot put out a decent conflict of interest policy after several years of talking about it.

Reminds me of the old story about the man who used to hit his mule with a 2x4 and then calmly talk to the mule about the task at hand. When asked why he did this, he explained that first you have to get the mule's attention.

Well, if local indignation, national scorn, and Charles Grassley can't wake up the mules that run the U of M, perhaps NIH can?


May 11, 2009

Inadequate Consultation - a Hallmark of the Current Administration?


The attempt at dissolution of the Graduate School is a further disturbing example of behavior that gives lip-service to consultation and faculty governance.

From Senate Research Committee, April 13, 2009:

It will seem like something is missing from the University if it has no graduate school (e.g., everyone knows of Rackham at Michigan); if the Graduate School is missing, that could have an effect on attracting students. Moreover, the examples in the Provost's original letter were all very different from the University, Mr. Hart said; Ms. Stahre added that Minnesota has about 10,000 graduate students while Chicago and MIT each have about 1000. They also have a broad college that contain graduate programs, Professor Cohen said, and he observed that at UMass, the faculty are trying to get a graduate school established. Some universities have decentralized graduate education, Mr. Hart said, and then went back to the graduate-school model.

What has not been touched on was how this was done, Mr. Hart said. The faculty need to send a message that this is not acceptable—the Graduate School dissolving, the General College elimination, and the Medical School dean being ousted are setting a bad pattern. The administration takes action, apologizes, and consults after the fact.

Brain Dumps and Mad Rants

Another reaction to the Graduate School fiasco...

A colleague writes an interesting blog with the above title. From his post entitled: "Storm clouds on a sunny day, or, how once again power corrupts absolutely."

The end of spring semester should be a joyous time for faculty and for students. I am extremely proud of my students (and especially those who finish this year). I take great joy in celebrating their accomplishments and in working with them in every capacity. Beyond that, though, there are dark shadows on this campus on even the sunniest days.

The reason for that is simple: the way that much of the university's administration has handled themselves this year with respect to the February 9 graduate school reorganization memo has been atrocious.

Our university faces an unprecedented challenge to its very existence. Mr. Bruininks correctly pointed out in his state of the university address that our success in addressing these challenges depends on students and faculty being willing to rally together in our common defense and in the defense more broadly of our university and of publicly funded higher education.

Yet key administrators respond by making decisions that are akin to taking a knife to our guts and spitting in our faces.

I have twice as much work as I ever have (and am told that I should look forward to a future of doing more with fewer resources), and I'm doing it, metaphorically speaking, with one hand holding in my viscera.

The sole purpose of recent decisions seems to be to force the faculty into camps, and to create a culture on campus of competition and opacity.

This is, simply put, bad management.

Anna Clark suggested at a recent faculty senate meeting that a program of reconciliation with the students and faculty needs to be initiated. I couldn't agree more.

Someone who actually lives in the South Metro comments on "Gold from Gravel" post

From Lazylightning.org - the south metro news source:

May 11th, 2009 in Rosemount, South Metro

Charles Muscoplat, the University of Minnesota’s Vice President for Statewide Strategic Resource Development continues to believe that UMore Park is a potential money maker for the University. Several others on the Senate Research Committee are not so sure.

Dr. Muscoplat spoke to the committee and seemed optimistic about the financial returns of planned gravel mining on the UMore property. While the University has already thrown about $5 million at the project and probably needs to put more towards it in the immediate future, Muscoplat said that he expects the investment to be paid back “all at once because of the value of the gravel to the University’s mining partner.” In other words he feels that the added real estate development costs will be offset by the mining operation even though the gravel mining is a long-term project and will have to take place over the next few decades.

To me, the entire discussion seems a little far-fetched. They are hoping that real estate development will follow their preset plans created supposedly after public input was made in mid-2008. Gravel mining and the resulting traffic is continuing to cause headaches for Apple Valley’s City Council and more importantly, the residents nearby. In 20 to 30 years, will developers really be all that impressed with building on land that was once (and possibly still will be) heavily contaminated and dangerous all while gravel pit mining continues in undeveloped areas around the property?

Does the University have the best interests of the general public surrounding UMore in mind when it wants to make money on contaminated land all while continuing to permit it to be mined for gravel? Do you think that this project will be successful for the public at large or will this just be a benefit for the University and its mining partners?

Whatever you believe, go ahead and comment on, I’d love to hear what you have to say about the future of Rosemount and the UMore property.

Gold from gravel? MoreU Park

The MoreU Park fiascco continues unabated. A longer post will appear over the summer.

For now, suffice it to say (from the Senate Research Committee Meeting of April 27):

Dr. Muscoplat said that UMore Park will be a revenue center for the University, not a cost center.

Professor Dahlberg said he would like to see a financial plan that includes the dollars invested and an estimate of when the University will start to receive money. The University has invested about $5 million and will need to put in a little more, Dr. Muscoplat said, but he expects that money will be paid back all at once because of the value of the gravel to the University's mining partner. The University will need to spend more on real estate development, but it will make money from the gravel. There are also significant opportunities to create ancillary businesses derived from mining products or an energy utility, for example, based on investigations into ground-source heat pumps, solar, and biogas generation. A segment of the property is envisioned as an eco-industrial park, which would attract tenants, generating rental income.

Professor Ruggles asked what the University's comparative advantage is when it gets into the energy business. The University won't be in the business; it will allow others to do that, Dr. Muscoplat said.

Professor Hays asked what the projected revenue from the known gravel deposits would be. Dr. Muscoplat said that 3-5 million tons per year would be sold, over several decades, at perhaps $1 per ton. It is a big number, but it is only possible to sell so much into the local market in any one year. This will not be a windfall, he emphasized. Professor Hays inquired if they expected to use the money for development. They do not, Dr. Muscoplat said; they expect the developers to pay all the costs of development, not the University. Will they build quickly in order get a payoff, Professor Hays then asked? The University must be careful, Dr. Muscoplat responded, and developers will be required to adopt plans that carry the University's imprimatur; the University will be in control.

Professor Dengel commented that he would not want to live near dump trucks hauling gravel; he would want the industry cleared out, and usually the gravel is removed and only then is the land developed. The take-home message, in his view, Professor Cohen said, is that gravel pits are a dicey business and long-term development around gravel is a leap of faith he is not willing to take. Dr. Muscoplat said the University will not to do the mining; there are several companies in the Twin Cities that would like to mine the gravel and send the University a check each year. The University will be well-rewarded, he maintained.

Professor Ruggles said that aside from the research platform, the University could just sell the land on the market. Dr. Muscoplat said they studied that alternative and concluded that developing the land with a plan would generate ten times as much money as simply selling the land. Why would the University get into the development business, Professor Ruggles asked? That is also his question, Professor Dahlberg said: is it proper for the University to do this? It would be investing for academic reasons, but only for a few faculty members. He said he did not know of any other university that has taken on a project like this.

It was agreed that the Committee would return to this subject in the fall, and would wish at that time to see financial projections.

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: 3M

From the Strib:


Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

3M Research Specialist Vivek Bharti worked with student Huava Xiong with what he learned interning in the adhesives department at the 3M headquarters. The company is making strides to replenish the supply of scientists, which it needs for product innovation. They teach classes two times a week to students in the St. Paul public school district.

Scientists can't simply be hired, they must be created, and leaders from President Obama to state CEOs say investing in science and math programs early is key. 3M already is there.

After donning a navy lab coat, Huava Xiong moves through a 3M Co. lab like an old pro as he cuts strips of pressure-sensitive adhesives for testing.

Despite his age, 18, the spiky-haired senior is at home in the lab, part of the manufacturer's sprawling headquarters campus in Maplewood.

Xiong, who's planning to attend Carleton or Macalester in the fall, is among a few dozen high school students from St. Paul public schools who've been chosen to learn about science and math directly from 3M's engineers and scientists. Twice a week, they attend classes at 3M for the entire spring semester.

Even as corporations, including 3M, cut thousands of jobs, leaders are worried about the workforces of tomorrow, which studies show will increasingly need to have science and technical skills.

"You have to get to kids early," said Fred Palensky, 3M's chief technology officer.

"I was in grade school when Sputnik was launched" by the Soviet Union, said Palensky, a chemist. That launch ignited a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Palensky recalled the American culture was one that "motivated so many students at that time to think of science and engineering as a profession."

The success of 3M, Minnesota's largest manufacturing company, hinges on its ability to continually invent new products through technological innovation. Bottom line: It needs trained, creative scientists and engineers.

"We need a constant flow of that talent into our organization," Palensky said.

So 3M puts its dollars where its needs are. The 3M Foundation contributed about $20 million last year to education programs, with most of them focusing on math and science.

"We are seeing kids in the fourth through eighth grade starting to be interested in science and all of a sudden getting turned off," said Alex Cirillo, vice president of the 3M Foundation. He's funding efforts -- inside and outside of classrooms -- in which children can have fun with science and develop their confidence in solving math and science challenges.

Cirillo, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry, said that the company decided to build on its long-standing education commitment recently by becoming the lead national sponsor of the Young Scientist Challenge with Discovery Education.

Tom Wood, a 3M corporate scientist and judge for the Discovery competition, said science opens the eyes of students to the world around them. "It is much more satisfying for a young person to learn how an iPod works than how to work an iPod," Wood said.

In a typical year, 3M, which has 76,000 workers, hires several hundred scientists and technical experts. "You have to have people who are savvy and educated in the systems and technologies of today," Palensky said.

In its St. Paul schools program, 3M invites parents to visit the Maplewood campus, a step Cirillo called critical because "a parent can actually see that child in the laboratory and see them as a potential scientist."

Full disclosure: I am a former 3M employee (1980-1989). One of the best years of my life was spent making traffic signs at TCM. I still have friends from that year. The employees at 3M are great people. Alex Cirillo, Fred Palensky, and Tom Wood are all very competent technical people or managers. The fact that this caliber of person is involved in the effort demonstrates how seriously 3M takes this work.


We could learn a lot from 3M about exciting kids with science at the K-12 level.

May 10, 2009

Hawaii Presidential Search Down to Two - Including Robert Jones

From the Honolulu Advertiser

Questions dog final 2 candidates for University of Hawaii presidency

Several months of active searching and nearly 600 candidates later, two people have emerged as top contenders to replace David McClain as the president of the University of Hawai'i's 10-campus system.

But enthusiasm may have been dampened last week over a blemish in one candidate's administrative background and the withdrawal of the third finalist.

The head of the university's faculty union said he is disappointed that someone with a better understanding of Hawai'i didn't emerge as a top candidate and concerned that the search committee wasn't formed until October, even though it was common knowledge that McClain's contract was set to expire July 30.

"Is this all we're to expect?" said J.N. Musto, executive director of the University of Hawai'i Professional Assembly. "How did the process run through? It got a very slow start any way you would cut it."

After 14 finalists were interviewed in April, three top contenders emerged:

• M.R.C. Greenwood, the longtime chancellor of the University of California-Santa Cruz who rose to become provost of the UC system. She resigned from the post after two years amid allegations of favoritism in her hiring practices and an ethics investigation.

• Robert J. Jones, the senior vice president for system administration for the University of Minnesota and an internationally acclaimed expert on plant physiology.

• A third candidate, whose name was never released, who withdrew Wednesday in part because of concerns about participating in a public process.

While no one is questioning the experience of Greenwood or Jones, there have been questions: Why is there no candidate with local ties among the finalists? And why is UH considering a nominee whose administrative career ended amid an investigation?

Greenwood was highly regarded during her time at UC-Santa Cruz, increasing the number of academic programs by 52 percent, with a 41 percent increase in graduate programs; hiring 250 new faculty members; and more than doubling extramural research support.

But according to reports by The San Francisco Chronicle, her administrative career unraveled in 2005 when UC launched an investigation of her hiring practices and involvement in the promotion of a friend, UC-Santa Cruz Vice Provost Lynda Goff.

The investigation was prompted by reports in the Chronicle that Greenwood and Goff were business partners who owned rental property together.

UC's general counsel later found Greenwood violated the university's conflict-of-interest policy by participating in the hiring and promotion of her business partner, regardless of her qualifications for the jobs. The investigation also said she should have recused herself from the hiring of her friend.

UH presidential selection chairwoman Donna Tanoue said Greenwood was forthcoming about the circumstances, and that the UH search committee conducted "extensive due diligence" and feels both Greenwood and Jones are highly qualified.

jones due here

The second candidate for president, Robert Jones, is expected to make public visits to UH campuses on O'ahu and Neighbor Islands next week.

An internationally renowned authority on plant physiology and the author of more than 100 scientific papers, Jones has had an administrative career at the University of Minnesota that spans 18 years. He is currently senior vice president for system administration.

"When the search firm contacted me, it was very clear that this was a job that aligned very closely with my current administrative experiences," Jones said in a telephone interview.

"I have a sense of the challenges that are ahead for the University of Hawai'i system."

Tanoue said UH would be lucky to have either Jones or Greenwood.

"Both are incredibly passionate educators and academic leaders with very distinguished academic credentials and records of leadership," Tanoue said.

Some at UH refuse to accept that the blemish on Greenwood's resume is minor.

"When you have a stain like this on somebody's record, I don't think we take that person," said John Cole, chairman of the humanities department at Hawai'i Community College.

Dr. Jones is a very impressive guy. He certainly projects the image of a serious and competent administrator. I think the Hawaii folks will be very impressed. Just because we are in flyover land, doesn't mean that we don't have some very good people here.

I'd take Jones in a second over someone with a record like Greenwood's. Hawaii would very fortunate to have him.

We'll see.

May 9, 2009

Everything is on the Table, Invest in Human Capital, But Remember: Some Pigs Are More Equal Than Other Pigs

From the Star-Tribune (January 21, 2009)

Robert Bruininks: Invest in education

"In the global creative economy, human capital drives economic growth. Minnesota has had a proud legacy of strategically investing in its people; as a result, countless businesses have located and invested in Minnesota."

From the Daily:

"Several speakers at the rally said a Regents Scholarship reduction places the budget burden disproportionately on those least able to afford it, and said highly paid administrators should take cuts instead.

Regent Dallas Bohnsack responded to that notion by referencing the salary freeze, which includes top administrators."

Sorry, but this dog won't hunt. Do you seriously believe that a FREEZE of compensation at $740 K (that would be President Bruininks) is equivalent to a CUT in benefits for those making (comparatively) peanuts?

Why is it that Osmo Vanska, Joe Dowling, the MIA CEO and the Walker CEO have taken serious salary cuts while our highly-paid administrators have only been frozen - and at a very high level? There are also numerous University and College presidents throughout the US who have taken large cuts in compensation.

How about some leadership on this matter, President Bruininks?

May 8, 2009

Important Legislation With Implications for Clinical Trials At the University of Minnesota

I thank a reader for calling this to my attention.

Jeremy Olson and Paul Tosto won the Premack award this year for excellence in investigative or analytical reporting about public affairs for their series “The Death of Subject 13” published in the Pioneer-Planet May 18, 19 and 20, 2008. For background see an earlier post.

The Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Award competition is one of Minnesota's most coveted and celebrated journalism honors. Started after the death in 1975 of Frank Premack, a reporter, city editor and assistant managing editor at the Minneapolis Tribune, the competition has recognized Minnesota media doing public affairs journalism in their community or region for more than 30 years.

From the Pioneer Planet's excellent health reporter Jeremy Olson:

Legislature approves bill limiting mentally ill patients' participation in drug trials

By Jeremy Olson

Updated: 05/07/2009 12:58:10 PM CDT

A bill before Gov. Tim Pawlenty would restrict the ability of clinical drug researchers to enroll mentally ill patients who are under court commitment orders.

The House and Senate both voted unanimously this week in favor of the bill, which was motivated by the suicide of schizophrenic Dan Markingson. Friday marks five years since his death in a group home in West St. Paul.

At the time, Markingson was enrolled in a comparative drug trial at the University of Minnesota — despite objections from his mother that he was coerced into the trial and should be withdrawn.

The initial legislation would have banned clinical drug trials from enrolling any patients under stayed commitments, which are court orders that keep people out of locked mental institutions but under strict conditions.

This outright ban drew opposition from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, which argued that mentally ill patients benefit from experimental drugs or treatments when traditional therapy fails them.

The approved bill gives court judges discretion — allowing patients under stayed commitments to participate in clinical trials if they have the wherewithal to make such a decision and have tried traditional therapies first.

The bill also requires that a psychiatrist enrolling a patient into a drug trial cannot be the primary treating psychiatrist for that patient.

A single psychiatrist at the U of M treated Markingson, advised the court on whether
he should be committed, and enrolled him into a study funded by AstraZeneca.
The study compared the effectiveness and side effects of three existing antipsychotics.

"There's a lot more transparency and people watching out for the patient" under this bill, said Rep. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, who authored the bill. "That was our goal."

Kudos to the U of M's own bioethicist, Carl Elliot, for his efforts in making this legislation possible.

Sadly, openness and transparency at the U can sometimes only be achieved by legislation.

May 7, 2009

We Make the NYT - Along With Ole Miss...

From the New York Times:

N.C.A.A. Issues Postseason Bans for Poor Academic Performance

Published: May 6, 2009

The N.C.A.A. released its academic reform data Wednesday, and for the first time issued postseason bans for poor academic performance.

“It’s an expensive ordeal,” Myles Brand, the N.C.A.A. president, said of providing adequate academic support. “Those schools who can’t afford it are more likely to run into trouble.”

Among the few high-profile programs hit with penalties were the Mississippi and Minnesota football programs. Each will lose three scholarships this season.

One of the top three public research universities in the world [sic] ?

For shame.

Tenth in the BigTen

From the Daily:

BY Josh Katzenstein

PUBLISHED: 05/06/2009

The NCAA published Academic Progress Rates for all participating institutions Wednesday, and the University of Minnesota men’s athletics programs rank 10th among the Big Ten
, while the women’s programs rank third in the Big Ten in the multi-year rates.

The University will be losing three football scholarships for the 2009 recruiting year for falling below the 925 score. Failure to maintain an APR of 925 results in immediate penalties.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said he is concerned with the University’s men student-athletes’ APR. He said the athletics department is committed to improving the graduation rates and APR for student-athletes.

With the location and success of some athletics programs, Maturi said it is difficult to recruit some of the more glorified recruits to the University. He said some coaches have to take chances on student-athletes who might not have had the best high school GPAs.

Some of the University’s high-profile sports are in the process of rebuilding because of coaching moves, Maturi added.

Maturi said many recruits prefer to go to an already successful program instead of a building program.

“As a result, the U ends up sometimes recruiting young men and women who might be a little bit more academically challenged
because [coaches] weren’t able to successfully recruit the 4.0 honor grade athlete,” he said.

The performance of student-athletes is not completely independent of the other students at a university, Maturi said. He said the University as a whole ranks low in graduation rates among Big Ten universities, so the recent APR data is not surprising.

Say it ain't so, Joe...

Perhaps the graduation rates of students-regular and student-athletes should be attended to before "ambitious aspirations to be one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]"?

Sadly the Strib has an article on this, too, and it isn't any better for our reputation:

U, Ole Miss are only BCS football teams penalized

"The University of Minnesota has the dubious distinction of being one of only two BCS-conference schools to be penalized by a loss of football scholarships because of this year's Academic Progress Report (APR) score. The Gophers and Mississippi, a member of the Southeastern Conference, each lost three scholarships."

"Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said the program's low APR was because of three factors: a 2007 campus sexual assault that led to the dismissal from the team of five players and conviction of Dominic Jones; transfers after the coaching change from Glen Mason to Tim Brewster; and poor academic performance by Brewster's first recruiting class in 2007. Only eight of 19 players remain from that class, which was hastily put together after Brewster got the job in January 2007."

Does the Twin Cities Need A New Children's Hospital at the U of M?

Does the Twin Cities need five children’s hospitals?

Ah, that would be no.

For background please see:

Children as Pawns in the Latest Expensive Healthcare Competition

From the Daily:

BY Emma Carew
PUBLISHED: 05/06/2009

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, St. Paul

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics Minneapolis

Shriners Hospitals for Children.

When the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital opens in 2011, a fifth major children’s hospital will be added to that list.

Critics of the multimillion dollar expansion believe the new campus will only contribute to duplication of services and increased costs — at a time when health care spending has never been higher.

Russ Williams, vice president of the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, said the new facility on the West Bank campus of the University Medical Center, Fairview won’t add capacity in terms of hospital beds.

“We’ve lived as a hospital within a hospital,” he said. “We wanted to create an environment completely dedicated for children.”

But opponents say the Twin Cities doesn’t need a fifth children’s hospital and quite frankly can’t afford one.

During talks with Children’s Hospital in 2006 about possibly combining efforts, the community wasn’t included effectively, according to former Sen. David Durenberger, R-Minn., who is currently the head of the National Institute for Health Policy.

“The presumption that just building a new hospital is a community benefit is a contestable presumption,” he said. “At some point, it adds unnecessary cost to the community.”

But specialty pediatric care is business of heavy returns. In 2007, the “bottom line” revenues in excess of expenses for both Children’s campuses and Gillette combined were nearly $57 million, according to Minnesota Department of Health Care Cost Information System data. Shriners did not report data for 2007 and the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview did not break out information specifically for pediatric care.

In 2006, officials met to discuss the possibility of a joint venture between the University of Minnesota, Fairview and Children’s.

“We just were not able to come up with a financial model that all parties could feel comfortable with,” Williams said. The University and Fairview then moved forward on what is currently the new West Bank facility.

The University and Fairview are still in the “silent” phase of fundraising for the new facility, Williams said, but he noted a $50 million gift from Caroline Amplatz in honor of her father, former University professor and medical device inventor Dr. Kurt Amplatz .

Both Durenberger and representatives from the Citizens League say they are unsure as to whether the community can even afford to house a fifth major center for pediatric care.

A 2006 report by the Citizens League, “Developing Informed Decisions,” concluded a new process “must be established where Minnesota defines ‘need’ for medical care in medical facilities.”

“One of the things that really concerns us is that the research shows that if you have groups of hospitals competing in metropolitan areas that the cost goes up in medical care,” said Bob DeBoer, director of policy development for the Citizens League. “And you don’t necessarily get a correlating increase in quality in anything else.”

Durenberger said overtreatment of patients is just one more concern about the number of pediatric facilities.

“The cost of unnecessary surgery, diagnostics and medical care generally is expressed in hospital admissions, diagnostic procedures, surgery, all that kind of stuff that doesn’t have to take place,” he said, adding that the costs get passed on to the entire community in the form of insurance premiums.

Durenberger said he worries that if the economic conditions don’t improve soon, the cost of the new facility and the equipment to fill it could turn out to be a bad decision.

“That’s the business of the arms race, and it’s all over the country,” he said. “People here at least spent many months trying to negotiate, but in the end they couldn’t reach an agreement and so we’re paying the bill.”

Because specialists in pediatric care could end up at one of five places, DeBoer said there’s possibility for dilution of the quality of care.

“In hospital work you want people who are doing the procedures fairly regularly; that’s a key issue in quality of care,” he said. “If I’m going to go to a surgeon, do I want somebody who does it a handful of times a year or a hundred times a year?”

As health care moves toward a more consumer-driven model with patients being encouraged to make informed decisions, more information needs to be available to consumers, he said.

“We came to this very fundamental conclusion that if we don’t make a serious change in the availability of information at the right level for people to use, that we’re going to keep having these increase cost problems without necessarily getting quality,” DeBoer said.

The problem may be there are just too many areas to try to compete in medicine, said Durenberger. For the University, having a multidisciplinary approach to invention and innovations, on top of entering a competitive environment in clinical enterprise, “there’s some of those things you don’t want to compete at, and you shouldn’t have to compete at.”

Still, “Good old Dr. Amplantz was a great guy,” he said. “But his name ought to be associated with invention and not replication.”

May 6, 2009

Further Frank Talk


For some background, please see the previous post: Speaking Frankly - Dr. Cerra Opens Up?

From a blanket email:

Frank Cerra
to ALL-AHC-ALL@oris2.ahc.umn.edu
date Wed, May 6, 2009 at 4:34 PM

I find there is a very high level of interest and a real commitment to moving us all ahead as we address the challenges before us and continue the quest for excellence, as well as greater productivity and efficiency. I also find that it is time to broaden the conversation and engage more of you in it.

To that end, I have asked my communications team to develop an approach to give you information in a way that is engaging and allows you to respond. Part of that will be a transition website where names of the groups referred to above are posted, along with documents that are in various stages of development and consultation.

We – like all major Academic Health Centers - face significant challenges ...

These include: the alignment of the clinical enterprise, moving into a learning environment, capturing the value of the research corridors and the new Biomedical Facilities District, leveraging our strengths, developing a new economic model, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our service platforms.

Clearly, I will need the energy and expertise of the faculty as we engage in a strategic directions process to understand these areas, problem solve them, and move ahead in the quest for excellence for all our health sciences schools, as we also continue to move the Medical School forward. I believe we can do this.

Many have asked how will you do two jobs, Frank.

I do not intend to do two jobs. The approach is one of separating the executive and management functions of the Medical School, and I will perform those executive/strategic functions of the Medical School as well as those of the AHC.

The management functions of the Medical School will occur via a skilled management team, the same way the skilled management team in the office of the SVPHS will continue its work.

The operational functions unique to the Medical School will remain within the Medical School, and I plan to appoint an executive vice dean who will perform those day to day operational duties.

The Medical School is a critical asset of the University of Minnesota and for it to be successful moving forward, it must have operational expertise.

It’s critical for all our health sciences schools that the Medical School’s drive forward takes place in concert with the other AHC Schools as well as the rest of the University - particularly in those areas where we partner in interdisciplinary work.

I look forward to further e-mail communications, and would like to know your thoughts. For now, please feel free to contact me [by email].

Frank B. Cerra, M.D.
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences
McKnight Presidential Leadership Chair

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.

Vadim Falls On Sword

From the Daily:

BY Briana Bierschbach PUBLISHED: 05/06/2009

Vadim Lavrusik, editor-in-chief and co-publisher of The Minnesota Daily, resigned Wednesday.

Lavrusik was suspended for a week without pay effective Sunday, May 3, for contributing Daily content to a Star Tribune article about riots during Spring Jam.

On Tuesday morning, Lavrusik changed the order of stories on the Daily’s website, moving the “Open letter to our readers” to less prominent placement on the Daily homepage. His resignation came before The Minnesota Daily Board of Directors determined whether or not this action violated his suspension.

Lavrusik was contacted Tuesday by Daily editors about his actions. He sent a letter of resignation Wednesday to the board of directors announcing his resignation.

“Me going in and editing the stories on the website was not done out of malice or done with intention to change the news in anyway,” Lavrusik said Wednesday. “I was simply doing what I had always been doing and that’s ranking the stories the way they would appear in the paper.”

Lavrusik, who has been with the Daily for nearly four years, said he later realized he made a mistake, and resigned in hopes that his action would “put out the fire that’s been going on at the Daily for the last week.”

Holly Miller, who was set to succeed Lavrusik as editor-in-chief, has taken over the position.

Thanks, V, it has been a helluva year at the Daily...

University needs to change its priorities

From the Star-Tribune:

University needs to change its priorities

If you regard thriftiness, humility and unpretentiousness as virtues, it's hard to see much to like about the colos- sal, grandiose, 2009 University of Minnesota, with its big salaries, big buildings, big sports, big tuitions.

If I were young, I'd think twice about attending a school burdened by thick layers of administrators with Wall Street salaries, a multimillion-dollar sports establishment, and a building program of Roman Empire proportions.

A state-sponsored college's mission should be to provide its citizens the opportunity for a low-cost, high-quality education. On this score, the MnSCU schools would seem to be a far better deal for a student than is the U of M.

When the current U president's term expires in 2011, I am confident that the pendulum will swing back from his 1980s-style big-business model of college administration toward an education-first focus more appropriate to today's economic climate. But we'll still be paying for those gigantic new buildings ...



Angels With Dirty Faces?


From the Strib:

Mpls. medical company may bolt for Wisconsin

VitalMedix, a start-up medical company born of U of M research, might relocate in the Badger State for lack of investors in Minnesota.

A highly touted start-up company recently spun off from the University of Minnesota will likely move to Wisconsin because it can't raise enough money in Minnesota to fund its research.

VitalMedix Inc., a Minneapolis-based company developing a hemorrhagic shock drug designed to keep alive a victim suffering near-fatal injuries, needs $3.5 million to advance its technology to human clinical trials. So far, VitalMedix has attracted only $600,000 from local investors.

Should VitalMedix move across the border, it could lose $1 million in 2010 federal funding that U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, has been trying to secure in Congress.

Minnesota arguably has a greater stake in VitalMedix. The company is one of the first start-ups to emerge from the U's ambitious effort to revamp its technology transfer program and generate profits from university research.

Based on the work of two U doctors, VitalMedix's drug, dubbed Tamiasyn, incorporates chemicals found in some animals that allow them to survive in certain conditions, such as hibernation or at great undersea depths. The idea is to extend what trauma surgeons call the "golden hour," the period after an injury that offers the patient the best chance for survival if quickly transported to a hospital. Independent experts have called the drug a breakthrough of tremendous potential.

Doug Johnson, head of the University's Venture Center who also sits on the company's board, said he does not want to see jobs created from U of M technology end up in Wisconsin.
However, the school has a financial responsibility to ensure VitalMedix survives. The U has already invested several hundred thousand dollars, not to mention many hours, into nurturing VitalMedix, he said.

There is something fishy here - and it is not just the state opener!

We've been told that all the expensive new biomedical research buildings at the University of Minnesota are going to create "thousands of jobs."

And yet this firm is going to leave the state because of lack of startup funding and/or the tax situation. [Depending on who you want to believe.]

We also recall that the big stem cell patent at the U [or 5% of it] was sold to Athersys, a company in Cleveland. The University Enterprise Laboratory has also fallen on hard times lately.

How about some straight talk about the linkage between funding for new biomedical research buildings at the U of M and creation of new jobs?

May 5, 2009

Double Dipping Endemic? Pandemic? Educational?


Sound familiar?

From the Pioneer Press on line version (today)

Carstarphen earning $1,000 a day from next job in Austin, Texas, while still working for St. Paul Schools Though she doesn't start officially in Austin, Texas, until July 1, St. Paul superintendent Meria Carstarphen has already earned $16,000 as a consultant to her new district, Austin records show.

Wonder if she learned this trick from anyone around here?

By the way, whatever happened to our own double-dippers? Mark Rotenberg was going to get right on that... last year.

For background, see:

U Admin: Sainfort, Jacko Being Treated Unfairly?

Maybe if we ignore the problem, it will go away?

From WSJ Blog: Academic Medical Centers Often Guilty of Research Hype

Surprise, surprise...

From the WSH Health Blog:

The media may be guilty of exaggerating the results of medical studies, but academic medical centers that hype the results aren’t blameless themselves.

A piece out in the Annals of Internal Medicine takes a look at press releases that academic medical centers sent out about their research, examining such details as whether they gave information on the studies’ size, hard results numbers and cautions about how solid the results are and what they mean. The conclusion: The press releases “often promote research that has uncertain relevance to human health and do not provide key facts or acknowledge important limitations.”

The authors, led by Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz of Dartmouth, looked at releases from EurekAlert issued by 20 academic medical centers and their affiliates in 2005. (EurekAlert compiles many press releases and sends them to journalists.) The researchers found that 58 out of 200 releases, or 29%, exaggerated the findings’ importance.

Exaggeration was more common in releases about animal studies than human studies. Out of the 200 releases, 195 included quotes from the scientific investigators: 26% of them were “judged to overstate research importance,” the authors write.

Our own J-school prof, Gary Schwitzer, gets plaudits from the WSH blog for his recent work:

Woloshin and Schwartz have written before about medical research and the media, including another piece about flawed press releases from medical journals and one about news reports that “often omit basic study facts and cautions” about research presentations at scientific meetings. They’re not the only ones who make a case that journalists don’t cover medicine very well.

There is a link to a pieced on Gary's work:

How Do American Journalists Cover Medicine? Not Very Well

including his excellent paper in the PLOS.

Speaking Frankly - Dr. Cerra Opens Up?


From the Daily:

Cerra opens up about major challenges in 2008-09

Academic Health Center senior VP talks conflicts of interest, Med School Dean and medical education.

On Monday The Minnesota Daily sat down with Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Frank Cerra in his office to discuss the financial and academic challenges the six Academic Health Center schools have faced over the past year and his goals moving in to 2009-10.

Tell me a little bit about where we are with the conflicts of interest policy. I know there’s only one Regents meeting left. Where’s that at?

That group of people is systematically looking at what is happening in other medical schools, other academic health centers, other universities, what is coming out of the new policies in Big Pharma, and in the device industry.

And then we’ll be ready to put this together and see what the new policy draft looks like, and begin to take it through the consulting process. I think we’re also in the midst of preparing a position statement on the value added from relationships between faculty and the institution and industry where there is really clear value added.

And so what kind of timeline are you working on? Is there a goal for what Regents meeting you’d like to bring the policy to?

Not really. I think we’re more interested in a more deliberative, thorough approach where we listen to people and then take forward to the institution some recommendations, because ultimately the institution has to decide what it wants as well as everybody who works in the community. And that’s the stage we’re at now.

So there’s no rush to get it done?

No, I think it’s better we get it to come out the right way than to just kind of push something through for the sake of a new policy. There are a number of very important issues that I think need to be discussed in a collegial environment.

And I know a lot of people have expressed disappointment in the way things have gone from the task force recommendations to the draft that was released late January, early February. They want to know what’s next and how will those folks be able to get their voices heard?

There will be a draft policy that will be put in the faculty governance system and the general collegial response system. And they’ll have the chance to voice their opinion either directly or through their elected representatives.

I saw the memo that went out from Medical School Dean Dr. Deborah Powell the other day about the Med 2010 initiative, about some changes that are being made. What’s your vision for how things are going to go through 2009 and moving into 2010 in terms of curriculum overhaul and curriculum changes?

I don’t usually speak about this in terms of curriculum change, because it’s the way we’ve always done business: We set a curriculum and we change the curriculum. I think what we’re talking about there is truly a transformation in the way we actually educate the next generation of doctors or nurses or health professionals in general …

I think it has to do with how do you construct educational material into forms of knowledge that students can learn and learn better around competencies that they need to achieve, and then to utilize the new game technology or virtual reality.

We already have early data that those kinds of learning environments reduce errors when people get to practice.

I think there are compelling reasons to move in this direction. I think at the same time, it’s got to be deliberative, thought through moved ahead, not an incremental, but something much more rapid than incremental.

Which components are you most excited about/what would you liked to have seen in your medical education?

That’s a real interesting question. I would have liked to have — well, the assumption you’re making here is that my genre had some idea of computer technology. They didn’t exist when I went to [Med School], they were these great big things with tubes. It’s kind of like back to the future, I’ll take where I am today and if I could take it back there, I think to have learned histology and pathology in that environment would have been very exciting.

I think we would have been much better prepared and probably would have been able to absorb a broader base of knowledge, but what’s more important, become more proficient at the practice and the art rather than test of time and experience.

And so, let’s talk a little about finances. How has it been this year for the AHC? And looking forward, how do the books look for next year?

I like that, how do the books look. This year has been a major, major challenge for a variety of reasons. None the least of which is the state rescission. None the least of which is looking at the amount of debts students have and trying to figure out how do we create an economic model that will continue to support health professional education.

To try and create a sufficient margin in the clinical business, to grow and expand Medical School or health sciences program is increasingly difficult because those margins aren’t there.

So we’re having to look at all that and rise to the challenge of balancing the budget while at the same time figuring out what is an economic model where we can on the one hand become more efficient and effective at what we do at less cost.

And that’s what this process is about. It’s partially strategic positioning, it’s partly looking at your infrastructure and saying how are we doing business … and at the same time going through a process to say we’re going to go in this direction and we are going to have to create new partnerships, and do it on a shorter timeline than we had planned or imagined because of the general economy and because of the state rescission to the University’s budget.

And how does the state’s budget affect the AHC’s plan for the new biomedical center?

We’re moving ahead with the biomedical facilities. We’re looking at planning that district as a new campus, it’s called the Biomedical Discovery District. We’re moving ahead with the magnetic resonance imaging center, we’re beginning to look at these other three facilities not necessarily as three separate facilities but areas of emphasis but interdisciplinary translational research that deals with cancer or cardiovascular disease and then we’re looking at what this third area of emphasis might be around.

It’s a very, very exciting time to plan something like this. It’s going to happen and we’ll actually be well into it by this fall.

And will there be newly hired faculty? Or will they be folks already working on these projects?

Some of both. I think it’s important that the faculty we have here are appropriately supported; they’re very good. They’re outstanding, they do great work, their grant history is exemplary and so on and so forth. At the same time we need to recruit new faculty, and it’ll probably be a combination of that. And we’re working that out now. And I think the other important point is who you recruit and who gets moved from inside the institution depends entirely on the areas of focus of the research.

These facilities will also be designed in a way that they’re flexible. So as you know areas of research emphasis change, over the next 10, 15, 20, 30 years, we don’t expect to be doing the same things we are now, at least I hope we’re not.

And when will those be set to open?

I suspect the last one we will move in 2015-2016 somewhere in there.

Let’s talk about the transfer of the deanship, come July 1 you’re going to be taking on a lot of responsibility. What are you most looking forward to?

A couple of comments. I think this isn’t really a transfer, it’s really an integration of two positions to better accomplish the challenges that face us.

That’s been the president’s point of view; it’s also my point of view after studying it. And the challenges we have, have a lot to do with the positioning and success of the clinical enterprise.

If you’ve been following it, you know we’re on this pathway of convergence with Fairview Health Services, that’s absolutely critical for our future. In order to, as you pointed out, finish up these biomedical facilities and get it done efficiently, effectively and on time, it’s no small feat to recruit 60 to 120 new faculty in five to seven years, that’s a lot of work, in addition to the normal turn over.

Moving education in the direction of e-education, establishing new economic models, and making our infrastructure more efficient and effective requires a different kind of administrative structure to make decisions and the president decided on this approach.

I’ve studied it and I think it’s a good one, but it’s not doing two jobs, it’s integrating two jobs into one. Which I think is very doable.

At the State of the AHC address, a lot of folks seemed concerned about their schools, outside the Med School. How do you respond to those folks who are maybe concerned that pharmacy, nursing and public health are going to be given less priority to the Med School?

Well I think they’re legitimate concerns, and I congratulate them for expressing them, because if they’re not out there you can’t talk about them and fix them.

So those deans will get plenty of attention, the Deans Council will still continue to be here as a primary policy decision body, the deans will have their one-on-one meetings with the senior vice president, and I will be held accountable by them and by the president for the distribution of resources and the advocacy of the needs of the health sciences schools.

But ultimately what you come down to is this: This academic health center’s major strength is having all of the health sciences schools under one roof. That is also its major leverage in the health care marketplace and in the education of the next generation of health professionals and that must be preserved as a strategic imperative.

We hear a lot about the Med School and great breakthroughs coming from the Med School every day. What are some of the other things from the other schools that have really made waves in their fields in the last year?

I think there are a number of things, the School of Pharmacy and their medication management program is one. It just improves the quality of the medical care … in reduction of errors, reducing costs. It has revolutionized the care delivery there in many, many different ways. That’s just one example.

Another one, if you go over to Veterinary Medicine, what they’re doing in food safety and security is second to none. They’re very highly and heavily tied into homeland security, health and human services, and what they’re finding out about the detection of organisms you hear about, salmonella and the rest and how you prevent that and treat it. Another one in the college of Vet Med is the joint DVM and MPH degree, so it’s a combination of the masters of public health and the doctorate of veterinary medicine, and recognizing the importance of veterinarians to zoonotic disease, and of course the best example of a zoonotic disease right now is H1N1. So that’s very exciting.

Jumping back to the dean, has there been a decision made about Dean Powell and her future within the AHC?

No decision. Dean Powell, the discussions continue with her. But nothing has been decided at this point in time. Just to point out, she is a tenured professor here, so at the very least, she has the right to continue as a tenured professor, but beyond that, there’s still ongoing discussion.

And has she made any indications to whether she has committed to continue as a tenured professor?

You’d have to ask her, I don’t know.

If you had one goal a year from now, what is the single thing you’d like to accomplish between now and next year?

I would like to have established an environment where the faculty, the staff, the administration have all agreed on the direction we need to go in, what we need to accomplish and all are pushing the same wheel in that direction, and that we have the full support of the state Legislature and the people of Minnesota.

And how about a goal that the students might see a little bit more of?

Where I would like to be with the students is clearly moving into an environment of e-education where they were learning better than they ever have, and they start at a very high level, I guess I should add parenthetically, and achieving their competencies better and quicker, and moving on to advance their education and practice.

If you were a first-year medical student or yourself as a first-year resident, what do you wish you could have asked your senior vice president of health sciences?

I think looking back, I grew up in the era of the forced roman legion march of education. You marched to that drum and you finished when they said finish or you were done. And I think what we’re learning is there are better ways of educating where people learn more, and they don’t have to walk around exhausted all the time, and you can actually have more of a personal life.

—Emma L. Carew is a senior staff reporter.

The Ken Starr Kerfuffle

OurProvost and his close personal friend, Ken Starr, are set to have a Great Conversation at the University of MInnesota. An article has appeared in the Strib which has drawn over sixty comments - a lot for the Strib.

[Ken Starr is on record as defending Proposition 8, the ballot measure that passed in November barring same-sex marriage in California.]

What is The U Thinking?

I find it a disgrace that the University would invite this piece of human scum (Starr) to even walk on campus, let alone speak. No surprise that he is opposed to equal rights for approximately 10% of the American people.

Why is Ken Starr Being Allowed to Speak at the U?

First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It's a university.

It's about ideas - right or wrong, sane or insane, popular or unpopular.

Thank God we live in a free country.

Trouble in Tahiti? An Open Letter At The Daily

From the Daily:

An open letter to our readers

On behalf of a number of editorial staff members.

For more than 100 years, it has been The Minnesota Daily’s obligation to serve the University of Minnesota community with accurate and honest news pertinent to community readership. The community, in turn, supports the Daily through picking up the paper, visiting the website and student service fees — from which we received more than $500,000 this year — knowing that we provide the services which many on campus have come to depend. We have recently failed to fulfill our obligation.

Recent financial decisions within the Daily have not been made transparent. For this, we apologize. Though many details have yet to come to light, the intention of this letter is to explain, to the best of our ability, an accurate account of the events in question.

Last Thursday, The Minnesota Daily Board of Directors approved in a board meeting the allocation of bonuses of up to $3,000 to both the Daily Business Operations Officer and the President — two of three employees who comprise the Office of the Publisher. The third member, the Editor-in-Chief, did not receive a bonus because of enacted disciplinary action.

These bonuses come at a time when the Daily is facing dire financial hardship. The most impactful budget cuts made to the Daily this semester include massive pay cuts (reaching 50 percent for some), discontinuing a Friday print edition and cutting entire departments and sections of the newspaper.

At the time these cuts were announced, at least one member of the Office of the Publisher stated in an e-mail that all three would “forego” bonuses.

Other members of the Office of the Publisher have since denied that this agreement was made.

Shortly after the announcement of the bonuses, an editorial employee sent a letter to every Daily employee calling for a petition to prevent the Office of the Publisher from receiving bonuses. There is a Daily policy against sending such mass e-mails without approval from a member of the Office of the Publisher. Several others responded with their own mass e-mails. On Sunday night, several Daily employees drafted a petition to be given to the Daily Board of Directors asking that the bonuses be withdrawn.

On Monday morning, the Office of the Publisher suspended for one week without pay the author of the original e-mail calling for a petition. It is unclear if all three members of the Office of the Publisher agreed upon this punishment. No other authors of similar e-mails have yet been punished.

Many Daily employees, including the large majority of the editorial department, perceived this action as being taken to stifle the petition. The discipline was passed down by the Office of the Publisher without consultation of other managers.

Many believed the Office of the Publisher punishing an employee for speaking out against its members was a conflict of interest. After a large protest within the Daily, the suspended employee was reinstated.

However, there are still many questions unanswered. We implore the members of the Office of the Publisher to fulfill the Daily’s obligation to you and supply you with those answers, truthfully.

—Andy Mannix, City Desk Editor, incoming Managing Editor

—Mike Rose, current Managing Editor, acting Editor-in-Chief

May 4, 2009

Anatomy of a Riot

Some took offense at the activities below being described as a riot.


I didn't. What happened was a riot. Period.

President Bruininks, once again, needs to demonstrate some leadership. There is a "Who's on first" quality to responses from various and sundry university underlings that leads one to wonder whether OurCEO takes this stuff seriously. And this is not the first time, in recent memory, that he has been strangely silent when events that are very damaging to the university's reputation have occurred.

CEO, chief fund raiser, the public face of the University of Minnesota? The buck stops on his desk in Morrill Hall.

From the Daily:

[And kudos to the Daily. They have done a helluva job this year on a variety of topics. And, until lately, with little cooperation from our administration. Nasdrovia!]

It was early Sunday morning, April 26, by the time several dozen riot police — and several hundred raucous partygoers — found their way off Dinkytown streets. Glass shards from broken bottles and dented cars lined the 1300 block of Seventh Street Southeast, the remnants of an hours-long riot that marred a celebration that began the day before as a high-spirited block party.

But things got out of control.

Alcohol fueled tempers and a street fire, and both ultimately exploded into high-stakes chaos that would risk the future of a decades-long tradition at the University of Minnesota.

The Spring Jam Riot put Spring Jam itself on the table.

Students face possible sanctions, in court and at school. University leaders fear a reputation tarnished beyond repair. Scrutinized police say they did everything they could to diffuse the mayhem.

“This incident, I don’t think, represents the kind of conduct, behavior and sense of responsibility that I’ve come to appreciate from the University of Minnesota student body,” University President Bob Bruininks said. “I think this was a breakdown that we should try to learn from.”

[And how long did it take to figure this out? "I don't think... " Think? ]

A tarnished reputation

On April 13, 2003, hundreds contributed to the destruction of on- and near-campus property , with damage totaling more than $150,000.

The incident began as a celebration of the University’s Division I NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship , but quickly escalated to aggressive behavior that included tipping cars, setting fires and the destruction and looting of local businesses.

The Riot Act

In 2006, three years after the Hockey Riot, the University amended its code of conduct to extend disciplinary reach off campus.

Among these provisions is a subdivision titled, plainly, “Rioting.”

“Rioting means engaging in, or inciting others to engage in, harmful or destructive behavior in the context of an assembly of persons disturbing the peace on campus, in areas proximate to campuses, or in any location when the riot occurs in connection with, or in response to, a University-sponsored event,” the code states.

Bruininks said it’s too early to say how administrators will apply the conduct code in this case, the first notable broad application of the off-campus amendment since its approval.

“I think it’s very important to be fair to our students, but at the same time expect them to be accountable for their behavior,” he said. “In the deliberations, I’m sure we’ll come out with fair and just outcomes.”

The court of law

The night of the most recent riot, Minneapolis police at the scene arrested and later filed misdemeanor charges against eight people, including five enrolled University students.

Sgt. Jesse Garcia, spokesman for Minneapolis police, the agency that responded to the riot, said the marking rounds are “mainly used to pick out instigators and agitators.”

Police arrived at the scene en masse and clad in riot gear shortly before 11 p.m., hours into the block party that had, by that time, turned into a large street fire surrounded by a largely alcohol-fueled crowd of several hundred.

Some of the most raucous partygoers threw glass bottles at police, who lined up several dozen strong and advanced on the crowd.

At times during the police response, they seemed to fire projectiles arbitrarily, including down alleyways. Police also used concussion grenades and chemical irritants, such as pepper spray and tear gas, to disperse the rowdy crowd.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said his department spent $2,099 in overtime pay to staff enough officers to handle the unruly pack of people.

Despite criticism, Garcia said last week that preliminary information indicates police tactics were “necessary and appropriate.”

Who’s to blame?

In the sobering week that followed the Spring Jam Riot, administrators, students and community members all demanded the answer to a single question: Who’s to blame?

Among the contributing factors that surfaced included a Minnesota Daily headline, the last-minute cancellation of a student-sanctioned performer, the unexpected nice weather and a slow police response. Others thought those involved shouldered all of the responsibility.

“I don’t know,” Bruininks said when asked if this or future incidents could be prevented. “I think that’s a great, great question that we should ask ourselves, and we should not be afraid to pursue the answers.”

[OurCEO, driven to discover the answers to life's persistent questions... And not afraid to pursue the answers either. Makes you sort of want to choke up.]

The Minnesota Daily

Two days before the Spring Jam Riot, The Minnesota Daily’s most prominent headline read, “No party patrol for Spring Jam.”

Rinehart said many students clipped the headline out of the newspaper to hang it up in their dorms, celebrating the perceived lack of authority for the upcoming weekend.

“Many, many people think that headline played a major role,” Rinehart said. “I think the headline was a real mistake.”

[For shame, Mr. Rinehart, for shame...]

Hestness echoed the sentiment, calling it “very poor judgment” on part of the Daily.

Rinehart added that he doesn’t blame the headline, “because it shouldn’t be the presence or absence of law enforcement that determines how people behave.”

[So which is it, Mr. Rinehart, do you think the headline was a mistake or do you not blame the headline. This sort of doublespeak is only too familiar around here.]

Young people get out of hand

Police and University administrators have each addressed the riot as a case of young people behaving badly.

“What concerns me most is that there’s some students who think this was totally OK, that it was just a party,” Rinehart said.

Both Bruininks and Rinehart expressed relief that no one was seriously injured in the melee, but said students need to mull over their role in what happened.

A long way to go

Just more than a week after the riot, administrators struggle with the difficult decision of whether or not to continue Spring Jam, a tradition that began in the 1940 s.

Bruininks said he hopes to find a way to keep Spring Jam from being discontinued.

“I’m only speaking for myself, but I believe it would be a shame to cancel Spring Jam,” Bruninks said. “I think the students, faculty and staff who live through Minnesota winters have every right and reason to want to celebrate the onset of spring. So I think Spring Jam is a good idea.”

However, he and Rinehart agree there is a lot of work to do.

“We have to set conditions in which people are inclined to make better decisions about their behavior and recognize their impact. We clearly have a long way to go on that,” Rinehart said. “We must find a way to do that. There’s not a silver bullet here, but it’s going to take real cooperation.

You had better start thinking about this problem long before next Spring. There is this football stadium opening on campus, know about it? Whether only the swells can swill has yet to be determined, but you can bet that the ethanol content of the air on campus will be higher than normal on Saturdays when there is a home football game. I hope this is a lesson and a warning to you. By the way, if you are truly concerned with alcohol on campus, Google "alcohol policy" and "University of Iowa." We could learn a lot from the Hawkeyes in other ares such as graduation rates, indebtedness of graduates, and oh yes, football.

May 3, 2009

New Chancellors Announced for UCSF and UC-Davis

Our old friend and former U of M president, Mark Yudof, has been busy in the UC system and recent choices for the chancellor positions at UCSF and UC-Davis have been announced. The new UC-Davis chancellor is currently provost at Illinois, having previously been engineering dean at Purdue. The new CEO at UCSF - a medical research school - is, surprisingly, leaving a position at Genentech where she headed product development.

Let's hope that the U of M can attract candidates of this caliber to apply for the CEO spot at Minnesota the next time we are in the market. It is also worth noting that both new chancellors are fairly young (51 and 55) and thus will have an opportunity to have a long-term impact at their institutions. Nowadays, most places seem to be hiring outsiders for such positions and certainly an infusion of new blood into the rather inbred administration of the U of M would be desirable.


From the LA Times:

Two women, one a noted cancer researcher and the other a electrical engineering expert and veteran academic administrator, were nominated Friday to become chancellors at UC San Francisco and UC Davis, respectively.

Currently only one woman, Marye Anne Fox at UC San Diego, heads any of the system’s 10 campuses.

Susan Desmond-Hellman, who recently headed product development at the Genentech biomedical firm, was named to be the next chancellor at UC San Francisco, which is a medical research school. Desmond-Hellmann, who is 51 and earned a medical degree from the University of Nevada, worked on AIDS and cancer-related research in Africa and has taught on hematology-oncology at UC San Francisco.

Nominated to lead UC Davis was Linda Katehi who has served as provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2006. Katehi, who is 55 and earned a UCLA doctorate in electrical engineering, taught at the University of Michigan and Purdue University, where she was engineering dean.

UC system President Mark G. Yudof is to bring their nominations to the UC regents board for approval next week for terms that would begin this summer.

May 2, 2009

MED2010? Ah, put that on hold.

From a blanket email:

Medical School Dean

reply-to Medical School Dean

to MED-ALL@oris2.ahc.umn.edu

date Fri, May 1, 2009 at 11:33 AM

subject Continued reform in medical education

"For the past five years we have been discussing and designing a new curriculum model for our Medical School. Many of you have been active participants in this process. However, recently Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Frank Cerra and I, after discussing planning needs, financial support, and the upcoming accreditation visit of our Medical School, have decided to postpone a full-scale revamping of the curriculum, at least until after the accreditation visit of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in 2011-2012. So the ambitious plan known as MED 2010 will not be developed in its entirety at this time."

May 1, 2009

Institute of Medicine Weighs in on Conflict of Interest in Medical Schools

I received the following anonymous message at my U email account:

from Anonymous
to bgleason@umn.edu
date Fri, May 1, 2009 at 3:12 PM

subject In case you missed it: an interesting IOM report....

....which the U of M Med School will undoubtedly do its
best to ignore.

Decent Summary:

Report Calls for Stricter Regulation of Medical Conflicts of Interest

Category: academia • drug industry • health policy • media • medicine
Posted on: April 29, 2009 9:54 AM, by Nick Anthis

Yesterday, the Institute of Medicine released a report entitled "Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice". As far as I can tell, the full report is only available for a fairly substantial charge, but these are some of the main recommendations summed up in the report's press release:

All academic medical centers, journals, professional societies, and other entities engaged in health research, education, clinical care, and development of practice guidelines should establish or strengthen conflict-of-interest policies, the report says. Disclosure by physicians and researchers not only to their employers but also to other medical organizations of their financial links to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device firms is an essential first step in identifying and managing conflicts of interest and needs to be improved. The committee noted substantial variations in institutions' conflict-of-interest policies and shortcomings in physicians' and researchers' adherence to policy requirements. The format for disclosure and categories of relationships should be standardized to help institutions judge the risk that a relationship poses and to ease the burden for individuals who must report information to multiple organizations with different policies.

In addition, Congress should require pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and device firms to report through a public Web site the payments they make to doctors, researchers, academic health centers, professional societies, patient advocacy groups, and others involved in medicine. A public record like this could serve as a deterrent to inappropriate relationships and undue industry influence. It also would provide medical institutions with a way to verify the accuracy of information that physicians, researchers, and senior officials have disclosed to them.

The report calls on researchers, medical school faculty, and private-practice doctors to forgo gifts of any amount from medical companies and to decline to publish or present material ghostwritten or otherwise controlled by industry. Consulting arrangements should be limited to legitimate expert services spelled out in formal contracts and paid for at a fair market rate. Physicians should limit their interactions with company sales representatives and use free drug samples only for patients who cannot afford medications. Several professional organizations and industry groups have set new limits on gift giving and other relationships between industry and the medical community, but it is too soon to gauge the effects these changes, the committee noted.

Basically, drug companies are currently virtually free to effectively bribe doctors and medical educators to a worrying degree, and such a system really should not be allowed to continue. It should go without saying that these are totally reasonable recommendations, and it's really a poor state of affairs that our system has strayed so far from these ideals. For more, The New York Times has an article today that puts the report's release in context, noting that it comes on the heels of a similar report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. (However, based on what I've read in the press release, the Times article seems a bit exaggerated, but I can't really say without having accessed the full report).

The report calls for a variety of actions to take place--some voluntary, some enforced by law. Specifically, the report calls for a mandatory public record of drug companies' payments to medical and academic personnel. In fact, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has already introduced such legislation multiple times, and his Physician Payments Sunshine Act (S. 301) is currently in committee. I don't really have a feel for what chances it has of (ever) passing, though.

Of all of the various payments and gifts that drug companies regularly give to doctors, the one that I think could conceivably be justified would be free drug samples. I'm not a medical professional, though, and it's possible that someone else with more experience in this area can probably give me a good reason why I'm wrong about this. However, having briefly volunteered at a community clinic many years ago, I remember how effectively these free samples were put to use to provide medicines for people who would otherwise not be able to afford them. Apparently, the report seems to agree, as the press release says that physicians should "use free drug samples only for patients who cannot afford medications." That seems pretty reasonable to me.

Otherwise, though, the status quo really needs to change.

Thank you, anonymous. With the present climate in the medical school at the U of M, I can understand why you might prefer to not be identified...

Interesting Presidential Search at U of Hawaii

Since we will soon be looking for a new president, it is interesting to observe what is currently going on with other university CEO searches.

From the San Franciso Chronicle:

(04-30) 21:06 PDT Honolulu, HI (AP) --

The University of Hawaii on Thursday revealed two of three finalists vying to become the new president of the 10-campus system.

They are M.R.C. Greenwood, a longtime leader in the University of California system who resigned amid an investigation into hiring practices, and Robert J. Jones, who serves as a senior academic and chief operating officer for the University of Minnesota system. The two were scheduled to visit campuses statewide in May and participate in public forums.

"Both candidates offer strong leadership, a strong commitment to academic values, and a deep appreciation of shared governance with the faculty and the importance of building effective working relationships with elected leaders and the community," said Donna Tanoue, chairwoman of the advisory selection committee.

However, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly was not as enthusiastic.

"I'm not blown away," said J.N. Musto, the faculty union's executive director. "I don't know what I expected. I guess I expected something different."

An expert on obesity and diabetes, Greenwood is currently at UC Davis, serving as director of the Foods for Health Initiative, chairwoman of the graduate group in nutritional biology and professor of nutrition and internal medicine.

She has also served as chancellor at UC Santa Cruz from 1996 to 2004, before serving as the 10-campus system's top academic officer. From 2004-05, Greenwood was provost and senior vice president for academic affairs — the second highest post in the UC system.

However, she resigned the post amid questions about her hiring practices. UC investigators subsequently found she should have recused herself from the 2004 hiring of friend and business partner Lynda Goff for a job at university headquarters in Oakland.

No action was taken against Greenwood since she had already resigned.

There was also controversy surrounding Greenwood's separation package in which the university agreed to pay her a $301,840 annual salary over the course of a 15-month leave. She was also promised a tenured professor position at UC Davis paying $163,800 a year, according to San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Jones, meanwhile, has served as senior vice president for system academic administration for the University of Minnesota since 2004. His leadership responsibilities include oversight for the coordinate campuses, international programs, public engagement and outreach, diversity and multicultural affairs in addition to other university statewide initiatives.

Prior to Minnesota, he served in several administrative positions at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for over 15 years, including vice president and executive vice provost for faculty and academic programs.

A recognized authority on plant physiology, Jones earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master's in crop physiology from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri.

Greenwood is scheduled to visit from May 6 to 8, while Jones' meetings are scheduled for May 11 to 13.

"We are desirous of obtaining the best possible person to lead the university and we're looking for additional feedback from the campus community and the public at large," Tanoue said.

It was a toss-up between this and the Hawaii 5 0 theme.

Faculty Senate Resolution Disapproves Provost's Plan to Dissolve Graduate School

April 30, 2009

WHEREAS: The University of Minnesota’s Policy on Reorganization requires that the Senate “be involved in any organizational or structural decision affecting an academic unit” (Preamble); further, that “the campus assembly (or analogous body) of an affected campus or collegiate unit shall review and make recommendations on ... [the] elimination of existing collegiate units” (I); further, that “When the president contemplates (a) the establishment or elimination of senior administrative position(s) of high rank, or (b) a major reorganization of the central administration, he or she shall present a proposal to the Senate Consultative Committee ... for information and discussion,” and likewise when the provost contemplates such reorganization for a campus (III.2);

WHEREAS: The Provost’s plan to abolish the Graduate School, as publicly announced by the Provost in his e-mail of Feb. 9, 2009 to the University faculty, was adopted without any prior consultation or involvement of the University Senate, or any part or committee thereof, in violation of University policy;

WHEREAS: The “Implementation Committee” (eventually renamed the “Committee on Graduate Education”) appointed by and reporting to the Provost is not a “campus assembly (or analogous body)” and was constituted and charged only after the plan to abolish the Graduate School had already been made and publicly announced;

WHEREAS: The formal charge to the “Implementation Committee” (now “Committee on Graduate Education”) did not encompass review of the merits of the underlying plan to abolish the Graduate School, having instead been limited to consideration of how the Provost’s plan to abolish the Graduate School was to be implemented;

BE IT RESOLVED: That the University Senate of the University of Minnesota disapproves the Provost’s plan to dissolve the Graduate School as announced in the Feb. 9. 2009 memorandum;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the University Senate demands that any proposal to dissolve or otherwise to restructure the Graduate School comply with the University of Minnesota Policy on Reorganization.