Communications and News
February 28, 2011
The University's Pivotal Role in Minnesota's Economy
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
In this time of significant budget challenges, the University is increasingly asked to demonstrate the value it brings to the state and its taxpayers. You all understand the value that we provide, and you reinforce that every day through your commitment to the University.
I am pleased to report that an economic impact study, the results of which are being released today, now provides hard data to substantiate the pivotal role that the University plays in the economic health of the state and region. The study's findings are significant:
- The U of M creates $8.6 billion in total economic impact in Minnesota annually.
- Every dollar invested in the U of M by the state generates $13.20 in the statewide economy.
- A total of 79,497 jobs are supported by the U of M: 42,319 jobs on our campuses -- including 19,157 faculty and staff positions; 8,866 fellows and student employees; 8,017 positions through the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, and University of Minnesota Physicians; and 6,279 graduate assistants, postdocs, and residents -- as well as another 37,178 in communities across the state through U of M spending.
- One out of every 43 jobs in the state of Minnesota is attributable to the U of M.
- Research expenditures from competitively awarded funds generate $1.5 billion in total annual economic impact in Minnesota and support 16,193 total jobs, both inside and outside the U of M.
Other study findings are available at our new Economic Impact web page
. A more detailed presentation with additional analysis will be the focus of a work session at the Board of Regents meeting on Friday, March 11.
The University is a critical provider of human capital for the workforce that Minnesota must have in order to succeed in the 21st century. The 14,000 students who graduate from the University each year, along with the cumulative contributions of our 400,000-plus alumni, constitute a vital, irreplaceable source of talent for the economy.
In my email message last week
I urged you make your voice heard at the Capitol. The findings from this economic impact study provide additional proof points to make the case to our state leaders for strong support for the University. The stakes are high and the risks to our state's economic well-being are clear: A vibrant University of Minnesota has never been more relevant to the short- and long-term future of Minnesota.
Robert H. Bruininks
February 24, 2011
What's At Stake: Legislative Testimony and Video
As I shared in my email message to you earlier this week
, Vice President Pfutzenreuter and I testified before the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, February 22, 2011, to address the University's budget and the serious consequences to the University of Minnesota if state funding cuts are as deep as 15 to 20 percent as requested by leaders in the House. My conversation with the committee addressed frankly the serious impact of cuts of this magnitude. The examples I used in my testimony were not intended to foreshadow likely reductions but were offered to illustrate that the proposed state budget reductions, combined with $111.5 million in state reductions in the last two years, will force us to eliminate or sharply curtail mission-critical priorities and operations.
I promised to share my comments with you following Tuesday's testimony. Please take a few moments to review the written remarks
and this short video clip
of my appearance before the committee. I deeply appreciate your continued support as we work together to make the case for strong support for this great University.
Robert H. Bruininks
February 21, 2011
Legislative Update and Budget-Balancing Strategies
Last month I shared with you our state budget request for the next two years
. The request was modest--essentially, that legislators honor the funding level established by the 2010 legislature. Even so, we knew that maintaining state funding at current levels would be very difficult in the face of a $6 billion state budget shortfall. Instead, on Tuesday I will appear before the legislature to testify as to the serious long-term consequences of state funding cuts as deep as 15 to 20 percent, as requested by legislative leaders in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Once again we face the hard reality of budget cuts--potentially, deeper cuts than we've ever seen.
Clearly the governor's proposed budget was welcome news compared with this possibility. However, even if the governor and the legislature honor our current funding level, rising costs would still have required us to continue to reduce budgets and reallocate savings to other priorities. While we will continue to fight for strong state support, we must all acknowledge that significant reductions are likely. As a result, we must take significant actions now to protect the University's academic quality and ensure a balanced budget.
The actions currently planned for 2011-12 include:
- freezing employee wages (subject to collective bargaining);
- re-examining and reforming benefits to achieve significant savings;
- implementing a third Retirement Incentive Option, as announced last week, in order to further reduce our workforce through planful, proactive, and voluntary means;
- reducing new investments in academic priorities and emerging opportunities, and forgoing the possibility of increasing financial aid for students; and
- differentially reducing levels of state support in our academic units and reducing administrative support unit budgets statewide.
I know these strategies will impact many of you personally, both at work and at home. We have asked the entire University community to set clear priorities, to reduce costs and increase productivity, to grow new revenues, and to hire carefully and strategically. Our decisions continue to be strategic, guided by consistent principles
, and focused on the long-term academic strength and vitality of the University--and it is our firm intention to preserve employment wherever possible.
It is important for the entire University community to understand that we have already been cut, $111.5 million in the past two years, to a level of state funding last seen in 2001. The University has paid for the past decade's worth of academic progress and rising costs of health care, energy, and other essential expenditures primarily by using careful strategic planning, conservative budgeting, significant reallocation of existing resources, and our own entrepreneurship and creativity, as well as by growing revenues, including tuition and private support. We have reduced budgets across the University, including $36 million in cuts to central administration in the past two years, and have consistently balanced our budget even as the state has run a deficit. Despite these unprecedented cuts, we should take great pride in the fact that we have managed to improve our key academic and productivity measures every step of the way.
It is also important for you to know that, in my discussions with the legislature, I will be frank about the serious impact of another cut of 15 to 20 percent. I intend to share examples from our systemwide operations to offer perspective on the scope and magnitude of such a cut. These examples are not intended to foreshadow likely reductions; instead, they are intended to illustrate that the proposed state budget reductions, combined with $111.5 million in state reductions in the last two years, will force us to eliminate or sharply curtail mission-critical priorities and operations. We must aggressively drive home the reality that cuts of this depth could permanently damage our great university. I will share my remarks with you later in the week; in the meantime, please know that my comments are illustrative only.
Finally, I want to ask for your help. In the coming weeks, as the legislature puts together its budget plan, it will be important for many more voices to be added to mine at our state's Capitol. The University of Minnesota has never been more relevant to the future of our state, and we must work together to make the case for strong support for the University to our state leaders. Please consider taking action through the University of Minnesota's Legislative Network
I want you to know that your hard work and dedication to the mission and students of the University of Minnesota is truly inspiring. This community has been good to me for more than 40 years now, and I intend to spend the remainder of my tenure as president doing my level best to secure its academic strength and financial vitality for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your continued support in these efforts.
Robert H. Bruininks
February 11, 2011
Transforming the U: Progress and Impact
During the past several years, the University of Minnesota has made substantial headway toward the aspirational goals established through the strategic positioning process. In September of 2010, we presented a strategic positioning update to the University's Board of Regents, and in subsequent months, we have finalized a comprehensive report entitled Transforming the U: Progress and Impact
. Academic highlights include:
- steady improvement in the academic profile of incoming students, as well as first-year retention, four-year graduation, and student satisfaction rates;
- more than 1,200 additional degrees produced per year, including 600-plus more undergraduate degrees, 400-plus more master's degrees, and 250 more doctoral degrees than in 2005; and
- growth in our research portfolio of 41 percent since 2004, the second largest growth-rate among public universities.
The report poses the question, "To become a top public research university, what areas of focus absolutely must be addressed?"
It expands upon 13 areas of focus essential to our mission, our academic priorities, and our academic support systems, as well as strategic decisions and initiatives, important milestones, and key indicators that measure our success. It also highlights the future plans and priorities of our four coordinate campuses around the state.
Transformational change involves an ongoing commitment to excellence -- a commitment I see every day in the teaching and learning, discovery and innovation, and public service and engagement underway on here at the University of Minnesota. We should be proud of the tremendous progress we have made together to advance the excellence of this great university.
Robert H. Bruininks
February 4, 2011
Provost Sullivan's Transition
Dear Colleagues and Students,
With tremendous pride and a touch of sadness, I write to share news of another important transition in University leadership this year. My colleague and good friend Tom Sullivan has informed me of his intention to resign his appointment as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Minnesota as of the end of the 2011 calendar year.
The timing of this transition enables him to support Dr. Eric Kaler as he assumes the University presidency on July 1, 2011, and provides sufficient time to conduct a search for a new provost. Both President Designate Kaler and I are grateful to Senior Vice President Sullivan for graciously agreeing to remain in his current capacity through the end of 2011. At that time he will return to the Law School, where he served as dean from 1995 to 2002 and currently holds the Julius E. Davis Chair in Law.
As chief academic officer of the Twin Cities campus during the past seven years, Senior Vice President Sullivan has driven unprecedented improvement in the academic quality and productivity of the University of Minnesota. Beginning with his August 2004 message to the University community, Building Excellence Through a Coherent Vision
, he articulated a deep commitment to improving the University's academic reputation and performance and began immediately to develop the principles and framework for achieving transformative change. During his tenure as the University's chief academic officer, the Twin Cities campus has seen:
- comprehensive strategic planning and reorganization efforts that consolidated colleges, enhanced and encouraged interdisciplinary scholarship, and invested in emerging opportunities in areas of scholarship from the arts and humanities to renewable energy--including the creation of the Imagine Fund, the establishment of the Institute on the Environment, and critical investment in the University Libraries;
- significant gains in the number of applications, preparation, and academic profile of incoming students, contributing to historically high rates of first-year retention, four-year graduation, and student satisfaction;
- improved reputational ranking of the University through enhancements in our educational experience, including the launch of a new, University-wide Honors Program; and
- increased emphasis on faculty recognition, including an overhaul of the University's promotion and tenure code to better incorporate and reward interdisciplinary work, improved orientation and support for new faculty, and continued growth in endowed professorships and chairs.
Senior Vice President Sullivan's strong leadership, thoughtful collaboration, and steadfast commitment to academic excellence and productivity have made this University a stronger and more vibrant institution. He has been the longest serving provost at this University in the last 25 years, and I am immensely grateful for his years of service, for his willingness to assist in this time of transition, for his support, and for his friendship.
Robert H. Bruininks