Board of Regents discusses framework for fiscal year 2020 budget

University seal

As the next step in developing the University of Minnesota’s operating budget for fiscal year 2020, the Board of Regents’ Finance and Operations Committee reviewed the framework for the budget at its February meeting.

The “budget framework” is a high-level plan to balance the University’s budget. The committee reviewed a set of financial assumptions regarding changes in revenues and expenditures in the coming year, as well as paths to bring the University’s budget together based on two goals: 1) maintaining the core mission of the University and 2) expanding and enhancing programs and services to serve students and Minnesotans.

The Regents’ discussion focused on state appropriation and tuition revenue, which are the most significant unrestricted funds available to support the University’s mission. They also discussed the importance of the University’s biennial budget request to the state this legislative session—an increase to the University’s base appropriation of $30 million in fiscal year 2020 and an additional $27 million in fiscal year 2021 to fund core operations and enhance programs and services throughout the state.

This budget item built on conversations from the October and December Board meetings. February’s meeting was the final committee discussion on the fiscal year 2020 budget variables. The Board is expected to review and take action on the President’s Recommended Operating Budget in June.

Annual Report on the Status of University Research and Commercialization of Intellectual Property

The Board heard the Annual Report on the Status of University Research and Commercialization of Intellectual Property, presented by Chris Cramer, vice president for research. In fiscal year 2018, the University successfully competed for a record $793 million in external research funding, the highest amount received any year to date when one-time federal economic stimulus dollars are excluded. Additionally, the University’s external research portfolio grew by 6.5 percent over the previous year, with increases in federal and state awards driving the total. The University also remained among the nation’s top ten public institutions in terms of research expenditures, according to the most recent survey by the National Science Foundation.

The University’s technology commercialization operations also remain robust, with 2018 having record numbers of licenses for University’s technologies, revenue generating agreements, and patents for University inventors. Cramer highlighted that four University of Minnesota startups had recently gone public or been acquired by other companies, which reflects the quality of University innovations and the institution’s ability to spin out successful new ventures.

Cramer told the board that he planned to highlight how the research enterprise provides unique and unparalleled educational opportunities for students at all levels at the University.

“Critically, for the state’s research university, research is teaching—we embed discovery in our curriculum. Moreover, significant dollars from our sponsored awards support undergraduate and graduate students as key players in our research operation. Too often the inseparability of our research and teaching missions is lost on even our strongest advocates,” said Cramer.

Cramer articulated other priorities for the University moving forward that build on existing strengths, including providing support to better compete for large, interdisciplinary funding opportunities; strengthening core elements of research infrastructure, especially in the area of informatics; and helping experts across the full University system connect to bolster work on such critical topics as opioids and addictions, aging, and sustainability in the face of climate change.

More of the Annual Report on Research and Technology Commercialization released by the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research can be found here.

Task Force on Building Names and Institutional History

In his report to the Board, President Eric Kaler outlined the progress and timeline of the Task Force on Building Names and Institutional History. The task force of historians, cultural studies experts and students is completing their work of reviewing four building names on the Twin Cities campus as thoughtfully as possible for the University. The size and scope of the assignment has proven to require more primary research and academic rigor than the original charge projected. Ultimately, the high level of due diligence the task force has shown is appropriate for a land-grant and public research university.

The President and Provost expect to receive the final report by Friday, Feb. 15. The President plans to bring forth a discussion of the report and review of administrative recommendations at the March 8 Board meeting. This schedule would then include Board action on recommendations at a subsequent meeting.

The Board also:

  • Approved amendments to the Traffic Regulation Ordinances following a public hearing on the matter. The amendments resulted from a comprehensive review to address new modes of transportation such as electric scooters, changes in traffic patterns and the changing needs of University campus communities across the state.
  • Heard the Report of the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC), delivered by Amy Pittenger, newly elected chair of the FCC.
  • Approved the 2018 University Performance and Accountability Report, a reference of the University’s progress toward strategic goals. The report includes the University Progress Card measures of remaining accessible, attracting outstanding students, offering a great student experience, graduating students prepared for success, conducting breakthrough research, engaging with communities and being a productive and efficient organization. The report is delivered annually to the State Legislature in accordance with the requirement in the University of Minnesota charter.

The Board of Regents will meet next on March 8, 2019. Visit for more information.

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