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February 27, 2007

New ticketing system makes buying tickets easier for students

The computer can verify student status so students no longer have to go to Mariucci to show their U card, the Daily reports:

Soon University students, staff and event-goers will be able to purchase tickets to athletics and arts events online and in person through one on-campus system, possibly using U Cards instead of traditional tickets.

The University unveiled a $300,000 Web-based ticketing system in the Arts Ticket Office in January as an initial test run. The new software will go online for the Duluth campus' fine arts performances in April and debut in the athletics department in June.

Advertising junior V.P. Yang, who works in the Arts Ticket Office, said he has seen a smooth shift to the new system.

"This one is a lot easier to navigate around," he said. "(The transition has) been pretty easy."

February 22, 2007

MN Daily site gets 58000 hits for news of possible Gore doctorate

From the Star Tribune:

When the Drudge Report website published a link Tuesday to a Minnesota Daily story about the possible honorary degree, the piece in the U's student newspaper got 58,000 hits from readers in two days. An average story in the Daily gets about 300 hits, said Editor-in-Chief Anna Weggel.

The story has since been picked up by bloggers and websites taking both conservative and liberal viewpoints. Conservative sites New England Republican and Say Anything were disgusted, with the latter calling the possible award "an honorary degree for junk science." The liberal site the Progressive Daily Beacon merely reprinted the story.

February 19, 2007

University considers awarding Al Gore an honorary doctorate

Yep, that's today's headline in the Minnesota Daily.

The article goes on to say that the former vice president hasn't been notified about the possibility of the honor, so I guess it's safe to say it's still in the planning stage.

February 6, 2007

Governor proposes funding half of U's request

Governor Pawlenty unveiled his proposed 2008-2009 state budget, which funds $90.4 mission of the University's $182.3 million request.

Items that would remain unfunded include $26.4 milion to improve undergraduate education, increased financial support for graduate students, and $67 million in compensation increases:

The governor's budget fully funds a number of investments in key University research areas important to the state, including science, engineering, agriculture, the environment, renewable energy, health workforce and clinical sciences, and competitive compensation and technology.

President Robert Bruininks gave mixed reviews to Governor Tim Pawlenty's biennial budget recommendations, praising the full funding for a number of critical research initiatives, but questioning the lack of funding for initiatives aimed at enhancing the University's education mission and core infrastructure.

"Our budget request is realistic and based on the goal of maintaining and improving the competitive position of both the University and the state," Bruininks said. "We're grateful to the governor for recognizing the need for some critical research investments in key areas, but are concerned that the lack of funding for investments in our educational mission and core infrastructure will put upward pressure on tuition."

"Minnesota's past economic success has resulted in large part because the state has taken an active role and responsibility in funding the U as an integral part of our quality of life," Bruininks said. "As the world gets more competitive, the state's role and responsibility become even more important."

Over the next few months, the house and senate will work to put together their biennial budget bills. While the governor's budget proposal is a start, we need your help to ensure that the University's budget request is fully funded.

Here's more, from the U's Legislative Network.

February 5, 2007

Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity affects other students and schools

Yesterday's Pioneer Press covered the Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity story from the perspective of smaller public schools in both states:

The University of Minnesota may be losing the most money in the tuition pact between Wisconsin and Minnesota, but that doesn't mean the U has the most to lose in the newest battle over the pact's future.

Thousands of undergraduates in the region's smaller public schools depend on the deal that keeps college affordable for interstate students.

More than 400 Wisconsin students study at Century College in White Bear Lake. Minnesotans make up nearly half the student body at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. And Winona State in Minnesota and UW's other western campuses also are packed with cross-border students.

With talks on the agreement to resume, observers say it's likely some common ground will be found to keep tuition reciprocity, if for no other reason than the worst-case scenario — that the pact ends completely, the states stop the neighborly tuition discount and college costs double — seems unimaginable.

"Reciprocity has tied this geographic region together. Most of us don't see the border, and it would be a real disservice to sort of untangle that," said Alan Tuchtenhagen, admissions director at UW-River Falls. There, the $6,000 a Minnesota undergrad pays annually would leap to nearly $13,000 if the Minnesotan were treated like any other out-of-state student.

Tuchtenhagen says he has taken a few calls recently from anxious Minnesota parents who've heard the U might pull out of the current deal and who wonder whether reciprocity will go away for everyone.

"I think it's going to get resolved. I'm not sure how, but there's so much at stake," he said.

People start to get nervous, he added, "when we tinker with one thing, is it going to affect others?"

The 40-year-old reciprocity deal basically allows Wisconsinites attending Minnesota public colleges to pay the cost of a comparable Wisconsin school. The same applies to Minnesotans studying in Wisconsin.

It chugged along mostly fine for decades. Then six years of steep in-state tuition hikes at the U, including four double-digit percentage increases, threw the deal out of whack. Insulated from those hikes, Wisconsin students now pay $1,200 a year less in tuition than Minnesotans on the U's Twin Cities campus, $1,700 less at Duluth and $2,700 less for the U Morris campus.

The states compensate each other for the costs of reciprocity. Wisconsin paid Minnesota $20 million the past three years. But that money goes to the state's general fund, not to the U directly.

Some lawmakers say the state should simply turn over to the schools the money Wisconsin pays to Minnesota. But U leaders argue that wouldn't fix the basic problem — a Wisconsin student paying less than a Minnesotan for a U education.

There's more.

February 1, 2007

President Bruininks discusses U's goals

in video message to University community. Watch it here.

January 30, 2007

President Bruininks on Almanac last Friday

If you didn't get a chance to watch President Bruininks on Almanac last Friday, discussing U funding, research, athletics and more, it's available to stream online here.

January 19, 2007

No change in Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity agreement

Minnesota officials have been negotiating with their counterparts in Wisconsin over the higher education reciprocity agreement between the neighboring states.

As the agreement currently stands, Minnesota and Wisconsin residents can attend each other's public colleges and pay in-state tuition--that is, whatever they would pay at a comparable institution in their own state.

The agreement allows Wisconsin residents to attend the University of Minnesota and pay about $1200 per year less than Minnesota residents pay--a situation Minnesota officials were hoping that Wisconsin officials would agree to change.

It's not as if the money were permanently lost to Minnesota--at the end of the year, the states settle their accounts with each other. Last year, for example, Wisconsin paid Minnesota $6.5 to make up the difference between what Wisconsin residents pay and what the Minnesota in-state tuition would have cost (the payment goes directly to the State of Minnesota, not to the University).

The Pioneer Press has the full scoop:

With little leverage, Minnesota officials said Thursday they will keep talking to their colleagues to the east. But there's not much short-term hope to change what's become a big advantage for Wisconsin and a financial pain — to the tune of more than $6 million per year in lost tuition — for the U.

"We're very disappointed. We've been working on this for quite some time. We thought we were making some progress," said Susan Heegaard, a key aide to Gov. Tim Pawlenty on higher education policy.

She expects the issue to come up at the Legislature in coming weeks during higher education funding talks.

January 4, 2007

Legislative Network briefing

The U's Legislative Network invites parents and other friends of the U to join President Bruininks for a reception and briefing about the University's 2007 legislative requests.

Date: January 24
Time: 5:30-8 pm
Place: McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St SE

Register online at or call Emily Johnston at 612-625-8739.

December 6, 2006

University asks supporters to contact Gov. Pawlenty

The U has put together a 2009-2009 biennial budget request for $123.4 million in new state funding over the two years; the request will be submitted to the legislature in early 2007.

The governor is also putting together his own biennial budget recommendations for the U to submit to the legislature, and the University is asking its supporters to contact Governor Pawlenty to encourage him to support full funding of the U's request.

Click here if you would like to read more about the request and for a link to send the governor an e-mail.

October 30, 2006

President Bruininks discusses state budget request with The Daily

Recently University President Robert Bruininks sat down with the Minnesota Daily to discuss the U's $123.4 million biennial budget request, as well as faculty salaries, academic expectations for athletes, and the new academic minor in sustainability.

Read the Q&A here.

October 27, 2006

Upcoming event focuses on social networking

You may have read the recent headlines about Google's acquisition of YouTube, a fledgling WebSite offering users a chance to share videos, ads, and other content online.

The University's program series Headliners has booked University Professor John Reidl to discuss social (online) networking, a phenomenon that is transforming the internet from a repository of information into a tool that allows people to reach out, form connections, and interact with each other.

Here's more info on the event from the College of Continuing Education's website, where you can also purchase tickets to this and future Headliners events:

There have been precious few innovations that have changed the way humans, as a society, behave. We gathered around fire, we moved our bodies with wheels and our minds with the printing press. Sure, there have been other milestones along the way. But nothing changed our societal DNA like instant, always-on access to a global community and its data vault of knowledge -- the Internet. In the wake of Google's acquisition of YouTube and Reuters launch of a virtual Second Life bureau, join University of Minnesota computer science professor John Riedl for a lively discussion of humanity's "Social Web."

John T. Riedl, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Minnesota, devised the algorithms behind software that is a standard feature of e-commerce Web sites. The software, called “collaborative filtering,? collects data on a consumer’s preferences and calculates items they are likely to enjoy. The winner of several awards for exceptional contributions to teaching, Professor Riedl took a leave from his teaching post in 1996 to form the business Net Perceptions where he serves as chief scientist and a member of the board. Riedl holds four U.S. Patents and in 2002 he co-authored the book Word of Mouse: The Hidden Marketing Power of Collaborative Filtering. His research has been the subject of an article in The New Yorker, coverage on the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, and a half-hour profile on ABC’s Nightline.

The Social Web

The national coverage of Google’s acquisition of YouTube has focused on its three inventors and their remarkable $1.65 billion payday. Local media coverage focused specifically on Jawed Karim, a 27-year-old St. Paul native whose mother is a professor of biochemistry at the University of Minnesota.

But what are the broader implications of this merger? Why would Google pay such a premium for a year-old fledgling Web site and why are YouTube’s millions of users so concerned over the possibilities of a change of ownership?

No longer is the Internet merely for sharing facts and figures; increasingly it’s for creating connections between people. Nor is the information on the Web mostly static. Anyone can create, share, and interact with its content. Hundreds of social networks are springing up all over the Internet changing the way people keep friends, find jobs, enjoy hobbies, and even choose life partners. What is the Social Web? How did it happen? And why is it so important?

Professor Riedl will present a selection of YouTube movies, political ads, and online games and show several social Web sites in action.

Where and When
Thursday, November 2 at 7 p.m., at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul campus.

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 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

May 18, 2006

Author events at University Bookstore

Next Monday night, Augusten Burroughs, best-selling author of Running with Scissors and Dry, will read from and discuss his new work Possible Side Effects at the University Bookstore in Coffman Union. This and all other author events at the Bookstore are free and open to the public.

For more info, and to read about 2 other author events next week, visit the Bookstore's website.

May 10, 2006

Stadium supporters to rally tomorrow at the Capitol

Stadium supporters will rally on the steps of the State Capitol on Thursday, May 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Tony Dungy, former Golden Gopher player and current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Read more about the University's efforts to build an on-campus stadium.

University's Great Conversations series available as podcasts

The University's Great Conversation series, which brings nationally and internationally renowned guest experts together with University faculty to discuss topics of broad public interest, has been challenging and entertaining Twin Cities audiences since 2002.

These conversations are also available for you to download from the CCE site and listen to on your computer or MP3 player at your convenience.

Here is a sampling of the discussions available:

-Renowned scholar Cornel West discussing Black Intellecutal History with faculty member John Wright
-CSPAN anchor Brian Lamb discussing The Media with faculty member Jane Kirtley
-Former Clinton adviser and CNN host Paul Begala discussing Inside Politics with former president Mark Yudof
-South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu discussing Human Rights with faculty member and Senior Vice President Robert Jones
-Author Richard Florida discussing Nurturing the Creative Class with President Robert Bruininks
-NIH doctor Vivian Pinn discussing Gender and Race in Medical Treatment with doctor and faculty member Anne Taylor

And if you live in the Twin Cities area, next week's conversation sounds interesting:

On Tuesday, May 16, Twin Cities audiences once again have the opportunity to participate with two innovative thinkers as they look through new lenses at the social forces reshaping retirement. The Great Conversations' season finale features the U's Phyllis Moen, professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in the University's sociology department, and Marc Freedman, founder and president of Civic Ventures, a national nonprofit organization that works to expand the contributions of older Americans to society. "Social Forces Reshaping Retirement" will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Ted Mann Concert Hall on the West Bank.

In the boom years following the end of World War II, increasing numbers of Americans began retiring. Cut off from work and much of society, these retirees assumed "roleless roles" with nothing really expected of them. People passed into retirement around age 65, with death often occurring soon after. In the 1950s, a transformation began, shifting the ideal of retirement into that of an "endless vacation."

Since then, medical advances and lifestyle changes continue to increase longevity, and retirees now can expect another 10, 20, 30, or more years of good health after they retire from their career jobs. "Older workers confronting retirement are better educated, healthier, and more energetic than ever in history," Moen says. "What has not changed is the fact that retirement largely remains a passage to the sidelines of society. Americans still view older people as dependent and requiring care. However, most older people are, and want to be, independent, but find it hard to fit in to our youth-oriented society."

Although many retirees want both leisure and the opportunity to make a contribution, they find they have no roadmap. "There is a lot of financial planning and less of the kinds of creative lifestyle and life planning I'd like to see," Moen explains. "It shouldn't be age-graded. Life planning should go on at all ages and stages. It could be something offered by employers, libraries, and universities. Institutions of higher education could make a real contribution by facilitating these 'second acts' of life."

State senate passes two University bills

From UMNews:

The Minnesota State Senate on May 9 passed two key items of legislation for the University of Minnesota--a bill that would create a special bonding authority for biomedical sciences research facilities, and another bill that would fund an on-campus football stadium.

The bonding authority bill, authored by Sen. Richard Cohen (D-St. Paul), passed by a vote of 51-15. It would create the Minnesota Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority, which would allow $330 million in state general obligation debt to go toward building five new research buildings at the U over the next decade. This would allow the University to add hundreds of scientists dedicated to research in the biomedical sciences, and will enable Minnesota to compete with other states that have passed similar initiatives, including California, New York, Wisconsin, and Arizona.

"Biomedical sciences research is critical to the economic future of our state," said President Bob Bruininks. "This legislation will help Minnesota get its competitive footing to build the Medtronics of tomorrow."

The Senate's stadium bill, authored by Sen. Larry Pogemiller (D-Minneapolis), passed by a vote of 34-32. The bill would allow the University to build a $248 million football stadium on the Twin Cities campus at the site of the Huron Avenue parking complex, just east of Mariucci Arena. The House approved a different version of the bill on April 6.