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Time to face the music? Ten questions

Upcoming Campus Conversations

Last week I met with the Minnesota Daily editorial board to discuss the 2010 State of the University Address. The extensive interview covered a wide range of topics and was my first occasion to interact with the University community since the speech itself was canceled.

As promised, I have scheduled two campus conversations during the next few weeks, in which faculty, staff, and students will have the opportunity to discuss the State of the University and ask me questions directly.

* Thursday, April 22, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in Coffman Theater. Open to Twin Cities faculty, staff, and students.
* Tuesday, May 4, 3 to 4:30 p.m. via ITV. Open to coordinate campus faculty, staff, and students. Coordinate campus ITV locations to be announced.

I look forward to speaking with you and hearing your best ideas and concerns, not just during these two conversations, but also during standing meetings with faculty, staff, and student leaders throughout the remainder of the year. We have much work to do to move the University of Minnesota forward during these challenging times. Please join me if you are able!

Robert H. Bruininks

I can't be there Bob, so I'll post some questions here:

1. If the legislature does not sign on to the higher education renaissance, what will happen to the strategic positioning agenda?

You'll note that this is the same question the Daily asked you. You avoided answering the question. Please give a direct answer this time with actual examples.

2. When the mayor of Minneapolis calls the University out over light rail:

"Like virtually every other partner involved in the Central Corridor, I am fed up with the U. We are not siting a nuclear reactor here," he [RT Rybak] said.

You have a bad PR problem and, not only that, you have been perceived as arrogant and greedy by many citizens and legislators.

Why do you think the public has this perception?
Might there be some truth to it?

3. You have claimed that you have done modeling of many schemes to deal with the condition of financial stringency and that your plan is the best. Could you please share those models with us as you are supposed to do according to the tenure code.

4. Is the fact that you are a lame duck president in the middle of one of the most serious crises facing the University a problem? From a recent faculty consultative committee meeting with the Regents professors: "In response to a question about whether the presidential transition is a problem, Professor Luepker said he thought it is."

5. Apparently the Faculty Consultative Committee has no confidence in your dealing with our long term problems:

"Professors Gonzales and Oakes reported that they have been pressing the President and Provost for strategic plans and scope of mission discussions and have worked on the fiscal crisis the entire year. They have no idea what the plan is. That is a problem, which is one reason why the Regents Professors were invited to join the Committee today."

"If the Faculty Consultative Committee cannot make headway, who can? This situation represents a decline in a sense of the University shaped by the faculty, not just one where faculty members are employed by the University."

Your response?

6. Again from the FCC meeting:

"At what point do claims about steady-state quality (demonstrably untrue) in the face of repetitive severe cuts become counterproductive (for example, in the eyes of the legislature)? It appears that the University's response is that it will have a lot less and at the same time somehow get better."

Your answer?

7. What does a research grant of, for example, $100K, actually COST the university to perform? Please address the fact that for every dollar of research funds we obtain, this means that money has to come from SOMEWHERE to subsidize it. Where is this supposed to come from?

8. How much does it cost to educate one undergraduate at the University of Minnesota for one year? And I do not simply want a number, but explicit indications of how the number was obtained. This kind of transparent data is going to be necessary for us to dig out of the deep hole we are in.

9. Why don't we simply spend the money to get Northrop up to code instead of the ca seventy million dollars that is going to be spent? Do we need a cultural czar and the accoutrement to go with him at this time? Isn't the Northrop re-do simply to provide a kingdom for the czar?

10. If you even mention "private funding" in your answer to #10, please explain why private money should be allowed to be used at the whim of the administration and not justified and debated in the community. Private funding is raised in the name of the University of Minnesota and should not be used for the "ambitious aspirations" of the Morrill Hall Gang.

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