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September 26, 2006

Pre-law event next week

Panel Discussion: Wide Road to Law School Thursday, October 5, 2006 4:00pm-5:45pm UofM Law School, 50 Mondale Hall

Thinking about law school? At this panel discussion, get your questions answered by a practicing attorney, law school admissions staff, law students, and CCLC's pre-law advisor, Angie Schmidt Whitney. Topics to be addressed: the decision to attend, recommended pre-law coursework, and the application process. For registration and additional information click here.

Open forum on personal safety and crime in neighborhoods

Update: We've had a couple of comments on this topic, so I'm bumping this entry, originally dated 9/20, up to the top, to allow others to read the comments below and add their own.

In light of the recent assaults in neighborhoods near the U's Twin Cities campus, we'd like to offer parents and community members a place to share information, resources, and suggestions to enhance student safety on and around campus. Feel free to add your comments below and read what others have written.

I've printed this list here before, but you may want to review the following common-sense safety practices with your student. The University Police Department's website offers good safety tips covering a variety of situations, including these for people on foot around campus:

AVOID walking through vacant lots, alleys or other deserted areas. Choose busy streets.

ALWAYS walk in well-lighted areas when walking at night.

ALWAYS walk in the middle of the sidewalk and facing on-coming traffic.

DO NOT walk or jog alone.

AVOID wearing headphones when jogging or walking in public.

AVOID reading when standing or walking on a sidewalk.

DO NOT overload yourself with packages. Keep your hands as free as possible.

KNOW the neighborhoods and neighbors where you live and work.

KNOW what stores and restaurants are open late.

KNOW where the police and fire stations are located.

ALWAYS carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it.

AVOID pickpockets by carrying your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front-trouser pocket.

Students might want to check neighborhood crime statistics on the Minneapolis Police Department's website. There, anyone can pull up city-wide crime statistics for the entire city, broken down by neighborhood, or access precinct-wide maps showing crimes that have been reported during the past week. The University's east bank is in the 2nd precinct, and the west bank is in the 1st.

September 21, 2006

Learning Abroad resources

Several parents who are unable to attend Parents Weekend, September 29-30, have called to ask me if we would be presenting another Learning Abroad workshop for parents in the near future.

That's possible, but why wait until then when we have last January's Learning Abroad workshop for parents videotaped and available for you to view or listen to right now on our website? Choose the audio or video version of the website, depending on your computer connection speed.

And here's a fun article from Budget Travel Online that covers some of the basic, introductory questions that students will want to ask about any study abroad programs they consider.

September 20, 2006

Colin Powell to lecture on campus on Oct. 3

The former Secretary of State will be on campus October 3rd to present the Humphrey Institute's 2006 Distinguished Carlson Lecture in Northrop Auditorium from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.. The lecture is open to the entire University community and tickets are free, but limited in availability. See the press release for more details.

September 19, 2006

223 cited for underaged consumption since school started

The UMPD, the Minneapolis Police, the State Patrol, and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department have been collaborating to curb underage drinking on and around campus.

Watch the report from today's KMSP Fox 9 morning news.

September 16, 2006

Crime Alert from the UMPD

Posted in its entirety:

posted: september 13, 2006

In the early morning of Saturday, September 9, 2006 there were three separate incidents in which male victims were approached by a group of males and physically assaulted on or near the East Bank of the University of Minnesota. In two of the incidents the victim was assaulted with either a baseball bat or a stick. At least two of the victims needed to be hospitalized due to the extent of their injuries. These incidents were not robberies and there is no other apparent motive. Times and locations were as follows:

*12:30 AM, 16th and University Avenue SE, (University Police Case)
*2:00 AM, 12th Avenue SE and Como Avenue SE, (Minneapolis Police Case)
*2:15 AM, 12th Avenue SE and Talmadge Avenue SE, (Minneapolis Police Case)

The suspects in the incidents were all males. The reported number of assailants in these cases ranged from 5 to 15. Members of the University community who are walking in and around the campus at night are reminded to be aware of their surroundings, travel with a companion(s), and use the free Campus Escort Service which can be accessed by calling 612-624-WALK. Carry a cell phone if you have one and do not hesitate to call 911 on or off campus if you observe suspicious circumstances or are in fear. Minneapolis and University of Minnesota Police are in continuous radio communication, either or both will respond.

If you may have seen a group as described around that time, in that location, or have information on any of these incidents, please contact the Minneapolis Police Tips Line at 612-692-8477, Sergeant Erika Christensen of the Minneapolis Police Department at 612-673-3407, or the University of Minnesota Police at 612-624-COPS.

September 15, 2006

Author to discuss her book "Generation Debt"

Here's the University Relations press release:

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (9/15/2006) -- --“Generation Debt, Why Now Is a Terrible Time to Be Young� author Anya Kamenetz will speak at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20 at Coffman Union’s Theater, 300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis. The University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Programs and Activities Council (MPAC) is sponsoring the event. Doors open at 6 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

After graduating from Yale, Kamenetz moved to Manhattan and started freelance work for the Village Voice. Assigned to contribute to the series “Generation Debt, the New Economics of Being Young,� Kamenetz’s work earned her a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize and soon attracted publishers which led to the development of the book “Generation Debt, Why Now Is A Terrible Time To Be Young.� The book features detailed interviews with hundreds of young people, as well as thoughtful research on the political, social, economic and public health implications that culminated to cause a dramatic decrease in quality opportunities for young people.

Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University professor of economics commented on the importance of the book, “America is slowly but surely eating its young by leaving them with massive public and private obligations … We all need to read this brilliant book and see that the American dream is being transformed into a financial, fiscal and personal nightmare.�

MPAC is the main campus-wide programming board for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Its programming committees are responsible for initiating, developing and implementing a comprehensive and diverse activities program that anticipates and responds to the needs of U of M students and the campus community. For more information, please visit .

Students who want an overview of the political and social forces undermining their futures are encouraged to attend.

September 14, 2006

Facebook to broaden membership to everyone with a computer

Facebook users are protesting plans by the wildly popular online social network to open its membership to all computer users, on campuses and off.

Reports of the expansion first emerged on Tuesday, and students have already started using the site to complain about the proposed change: Facebook groups with names like "Don't Let Facebook Go Public" and "Facebook for Students Only!" already boast hundreds of members.

When it was founded in 2004 by a group of students at Harvard University, Facebook allowed only people with valid college e-mail addresses to register -- a restriction that gave the site an air of privacy missing from broader social networks like Friendster and MySpace.

In the past year, the network has quietly loosened its registration requirements. First Facebook allowed high-school students to sign up, as long as they were invited to do so by a member of the site. More recently the network opened its membership to employees at a handful of well-known companies, including Apple, Microsoft, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

But neither of those expansions changed the perception, common among college students, that Facebook was something of a private clubhouse on the Web. Many college officials have said that students continue to post contact information and incriminating pictures on the site without considering that the material may be viewed by authorities or potential employers.

Not very exclusive any more. Read the whole story at The Chronicle if you have a subscription.

Gophers After Dark offers late night weekend fun

U students looking for fun free or low cost activities on weekend nights need travel no farther than Coffman Union.

That's where Gophers After Dark offers movies, concerts, craft making, contests, competitions, and, most importantly, food, every Friday and Saturday evening during fall and spring semester.

The festivities usually start around 9 or 9:30 and end around 2, and each week's slate of events is posted on the program's website.

This week, the film X-Men: The Last Stand will show 3 times each evening, and there will be a couple of concerts, rock wall climbing, special bowling events, a scrabble tourney, candlemaking, food, and more.

September 13, 2006

Undergraduate writing initiative to debut in 2007-2008

It goes without saying that graduates of top-notch universities should be able to write clearly in a variety of contexts, whether essays, technical reports, film reviews, novels or even e-mails. But that simple goal has proved elusive in today's world, where instant communications often leave clarity--not to mention elegance--in the dust. To give its graduates the best chance at fulfilling their potential, the Twin Cities campus has launched a Baccalaureate Writing Initiative to make good writing an essential element of every student's education. The initiative, a centerpiece of the University's strategic positioning efforts, also aims to turn the University into a national model for the study and practice of writing.

Under the initiative, writing will be woven into all areas of study in a coherent manner that gives students a feel for how to write in a variety of contexts. Besides teaching students the elements of clear writing, a major goal is to help them understand the need to tune in to different audiences and vary their writing styles and content to fit the occasion. Currently, too many students lack the understanding and stylistic flexibility to do this.

"We had a lot of comments from employers who said new graduates, because of the effect of e-mail and other digital technologies like instant messaging, have adopted an informal style that's not always appropriate for workplace communications," says Laura Gurak, head of the rhetoric department and co-chair of the strategic positioning task force on writing that recommended the initiative.

The undergraduate writing task force was one of 34 task forces the University created as part of its effort to crack the ranks of the top three public research universities in the world within a decade. Recommendations from the task force have been given high priority, and Provost Tom Sullivan has appointed an implementation committee to put the plans in operation for the 2007-08 academic year. A report by the committee is due to the provost this fall.

Read the whole story in UMNews.

September 12, 2006

Advice from a peer on avoiding the "freshman 15"

University staff members often discuss how much better the food in the residence halls is now compared to when we were in school ourselves. When I have the opportunity to dine in the residence halls, I always wonder how students develop the willpower to avoid overeating with so many delicious options available to them at every meal.

Well, I still don't know how they do it, but I noticed that in today's Washington Post there is a story about a new book aimed at helping college students avoid the college weight gain, written by young woman who is still in college herself:

[Daphne] Oz, a Princeton undergraduate, is the author of "The Dorm Room Diet: The 8-Step Program for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle Plan That Really Works" (Newmarket Press). Despite the title, it's not really a diet she's offering, but rather a series of practical tips for maintaining health amid the relentless pizza, beer, junk food, parties and comfort food of college life.

Oz speaks from years of personal, if not professional, experience. She says she struggled with her weight through high school, topping out at 175 pounds on her 5-foot-8 frame in her junior year. That officially qualified her as overweight.

The daughter of author-cardiac surgeon Mehmet Oz, she lost 35 pounds during her first two years at Princeton -- returning to the "normal" weight range -- by developing and sticking to a set of low-maintenance tactics to avoid campus-food land mines.

Read the rest of the article.

University's health careers fair

Sponsored by the U's Health Careers Center, the fair will be held on September 28th, from 3:30-6:30 p.m in Coffman's Great Hall.

Visit the Health Careers Center's website for more info.

Career fair for students with disabilities

Students with disabilities can meet with recruiters from local and national companies on Wednesday, October 4th at the City Center Mariott.

Attendees will:
*Learn about career opportunities, internships and work experiences
*Hear from nationally recognized disability leaders and authors
*Find resources and information that can them to career success

Register online by September 27th here.

September 8, 2006

Learning Abroad fair for students

Is your student interested in studying, working, interning, or volunteering abroad?

Encourage him or her to attend the Learning Abroard fair on Wednesday, September 20, 2006, outside on the west end of the Washington Ave. Bridge.

That's it--short and sweet.

Encourage your student to register to vote

I know that fall is underway when political campaign materials, and even the candidates themselves, are suddenly visible around campus. As the state primary (September 12) and the general election (November 7) approach, these sightings will become more and more common.

Some college students will be eligible to vote for the first time this fall, and University volunteers will be staffing voter registration booths around campus to help them take this first important step towards excercising one of their most fundamental rights as citizens. To avoid long lines and the need to bring proof of residency to the polls, students are encouraged to register before October 17th. Preregistration also means that students will be able to vouch for friends and neighbors who live in their voting precinct.

Students who have voted in the past should re-register to vote if they have changed names or moved since last voting.

Students will be able to vote on campus, but they also can vote by absentee ballots in their home districts. In that case, they must plan ahead and apply for absentee ballots in person or by mail before the election.

For more information on voting in Minnesota, visit the Secretary of State's website. Here's Wisconsin's Secretary of State's website.

September 7, 2006

Writing assistance available on campus, and online

The University offers writing instruction and support for undergraduate students at all stages of the writing process through its Center for Writing in Nicholson Hall. Check the Center's website for hours and information on its satellite offices in University libraries and residence halls.

After hours, students looking for help will also find valuable resources and tips on the Center's website.

National study gives the State of Minnesota a "D" for college affordability

Today's Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Public college costs are taking a much bigger bite out of the average Minnesota family's annual income than in recent years, according to a nationwide report released today.

In 1992, the average Minnesota family paid about 19 percent of its income to attend a public four-year college or university. Now, the average family pays about 26 percent of its income, says the highly regarded National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

How do we compare to other states?

The report gave Minnesota a "D" for college affordability. But that was pretty good, relatively speaking: 43 states got "F's" in college affordability. The highest grade was a "C-," awarded to Utah and California.

Nationwide, costs at four-year public colleges and universities rose from 19 percent in 1992 to 31 percent this year.

Students can complement their major with a leadership minor

Whether your undergraduate student is enrolled in the School of Nursing, CLA, IT, or any of the University's other colleges, he or she will probably find opportunities to act as a leader, either while here at the University or in their future career.

Many students are unaware that they can prepare for these opportunities by enrolling in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration's undergraduate minor in Leadership.

In addition to offering core courses introducing leadership theory, analyzing the characteristics of leaders, examining leadership in the context of social change and citizenship, and offering students a range of opportunities to learn and practice their knowledge, the minor offers students small interactive classes, individual attention from their instructors, and the opportunity to get to know classmates from a wide variety of academic majors and programs.

The minor is open to any student from any college, and is ideally begun in the student's freshman or early sophomore year (when they have at least 4 semesters ahead of them to complete the classes).

Visit the leadership minor's website for more information.

September 6, 2006

Minneapolis to get citywide wi-fi access

Wi-Fi Planet reports:

As reported last week in our Hotspot Hits, the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota is the latest big municipality to pick a partner for installing citywide Wi-Fi. US Internet of Minnetonka is the vendor, and will use mesh equipment from BelAir Networks of Ottawa, Ontario.

Wireless Minneapolis is the name of the overall initative, which will eventually cover 168,000 households within 59 square miles with Wi-Fi for broadband. The cost for end users is expected to be around $20 a month for 1 Megabit per second (Mbps) downloads (more for businesses). Deployment should take about 1,600 to 1,800 BelAir nodes.

The Pioneer Press said on Saturday Sept. 2 that the deployment will have to race against the notorious Minnesota winter -- not so much for the snow, but to do a full site survey to decide where to put the mesh nodes while the interference-causing leaves are still on the trees

How will this affect students on campus?

The Star Tribune also says that the suburbs of Minneapolis not covered by this wireless deal are already looking for their own wireless broadband solutions. At least one (Richfield) and the University of Minnesota (which has no outdoor coverage) are considering using US Internet as well, essentially extending the network to their locations. This would allow seamless roaming for customers in those areas. A 17-city group affiliated with the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission is also considering it, but hasn't made a decision. The twin city of St. Paul is seeking proposals from Wi-Fi network providers.

A time of transition for parents, too...

Noted parenting expert and University of Minnesota professor of child development Martha Erickson was interviewed yesterday on Eyewitness News 5 about the emotional impact that students leaving home for college can have on the families they leave behind.

We know that seeing a son or daughter begin their college career can stir up a number of conflicting emotions in parents. Pride in their student's accomplishments and in their own parenting sometimes mix with feelings of emptiness and even a sense of loss.

Seeing their child on the cusp of an exciting new life stage, with endless choices and possibilities laid out before him or her, sometimes spurs parents on to reconsider their own beliefs and life choices. It may not be coincidental that parents often make life or career changes during their student’s college years.

This is an excellent time for parents to reexamine their own interests and priorities, and take up a new hobby, register for an interesting course at a nearby college, or reinvigorate their career.

One resource for parents to consider is the University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education, which offers credit courses via mail or the Internet through its Independent and Distance Learning program. In addition, parents considering a new career direction will find one-on-one sessions and workshops to help them map out career goals and develop a plan to reach them. Financial aid, including scholarships and grants, may be available. Visit the College of Continuing Education's Web site call 612-624-4000 for more information.

September 5, 2006

Welcome, students!

It's wonderful to see the students back on campus for the first day of fall semester, 2006. Over the summer, the Parent Program--along with the Office for Student Affairs--moved from Morrill Hall, the Twin Cities campus's administration building, to Appleby Hall, a classroom building. Already it feels like we are much closer to the student experience in our new home.

Parents Weekend preparations are underway, and I'm receiving lots of registrations and orders for football and volleyball tickets, which I'm processing as quickly as I can. Check your University Parent newsletter or the Parent Program website's events page for the most current information about the weekend. If you have any questions about registration or the activities planned, don't hesitate to e-mail me at or call 612-624-6327.

This morning President Bruininks welcomed students, faculty and staff back to campus with an e-mail about the transformation he's leading the University through--I don't see why we shouldn't share it with parents as well:

Dear University students, faculty, and staff:

It’s great to welcome you back to campus and to greet those of you arriving for the first time! As I indicated in a mailing last spring, we’re transforming the University to provide an extraordinary education for every student and to address some of the greatest challenges in our world. That work has continued apace over the summer, and we are seeing remarkable achievements and potential for the future.

We have combined six colleges in order to establish three new ones on the Twin Cities campus. The new College of Design (CDes), College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), and College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) will create academic synergies that allow them to provide extraordinary education for our students and address some of the greatest challenges in the world.

It has been gratifying to see the dedication of faculty and staff in these newly created colleges. They deserve our appreciation and thanks for their perseverance in the face of significant change. And early signs are promising: our preliminary enrollment numbers show student interest levels that exceed our expectations in areas ranging from design to family social science to environmental sciences, policy and management.

In addition, planning is underway for:

*continued student improvements, including a broad-based undergraduate honors program, a system-wide writing initiative for undergraduates to be offered beginning fall 2007, and a new combined writing department on the Twin Cities campus;

*new interdisciplinary organizations such as the Institute on the Environment, which will coordinate and strengthen the impressive environmental expertise we have across all of our campuses and outreach and research facilities (Our thriving Institute for Advanced Study, housed in Nolte Center, is already connecting scholars from the arts, humanities, and social sciences.);

*ways to create a “strong start� and a greater sense of University citizenship for new employees, as exemplified by the revamped orientation for new faculty we held last month; and

*new administrative improvements, including advances in energy conservation and a one-stop online ticket shop that will allow users to buy tickets for most artistic, cultural and athletic events on the Twin Cities campus.

The above are all substantial initiatives we have undertaken to help propel the University of Minnesota toward becoming one of the top public research universities in the world, and you can read more about them on the Strategic Positioning Web site.

In the less tangible realm, our front line staff report an unprecedented level of pride among new students and their families-pride in the beauty of our campus, the quality of our student services, and the breadth of our academic opportunities. They should be proud to be part of this vibrant and diverse academic community, and I call on each of us to live up to their enthusiasm for the U!


Robert H. Bruininks
University of Minnesota

September 1, 2006

University tightens policies on alcohol in res halls

Drinking in the dorms will be a tougher task this year at the University of Minnesota — even if you're legal.

A new Twin Cities campus policy this fall makes all but one of the traditional dormitories dry. Students at least 21 years old used to be able to bring alcohol into the buildings. The new policy, which took effect this week at the start of the new school year, forbids anyone from taking alcohol into the traditional residences, except for Centennial Hall.

U officials say the change sends the right signal about alcohol and school. Some students say while it won't stop drinking, it may curb some of the problems caused when legal-age students brought alcohol into a building and it got in the hands of underage students. It makes the lives of student-staffers in the halls easier, too, when they can say no beer here, no matter how old.

While it won't end drinking, the new policy sends a "strong message to our students of what our expectations are," said Susan Stubblefield, the U's assistant director of residential life.

Read the entire Pioneer Press story.