News Release

Board of Regents Chair calls on Fairview, Sanford to endorse MPact Health Care Innovation vision

Illustration featuring a new campus hospital building design.

As discussions about the future of health care in Minnesota continue throughout the state, the Chair of the Board of Regents today outlined why more time is needed for continued discussions around the proposed Fairview/Sanford merger to assure Minnesotans that they will receive the exemplary clinical care they expect from the University of Minnesota. In calling for more time to evaluate the details of the proposed merger, Chair Ken Powell also called upon the health care systems to publicly disclaim their intent to proceed “with or without the University” and to endorse the University five-point vision for the future of Minnesota’s health care.

This and other health care discussions occurred during the Board’s February meetings this week.

“M Health is part of M Health Fairview for reasons more than branding buildings. Squeezing out the Block M is squeezing out the public interest,” Powell said. “The ingredients are at hand for a bright future. Top-of-class health care cannot be accomplished piecemeal or by deadlines that do not make business or public policy sense. It requires working together to build it right.” 

Powell also praised the Fairview employees delivering care to patients, emphasizing that the issue is orienting leadership priorities around teaching and research, as well as high quality clinical care. The full text of the Chair Powell's written remarks are available here.

Following Fairview and Sanford’s Letter of Intent — developed without University involvement and announced last fall — and in light of the health care providers’ self-imposed merger deadline of March 31, the University revealed its MPact Health Care Innovation vision last month. Myron Frans, senior vice president for operations, and Dr. Jakub Tolar, dean of the Medical School and vice president for clinical affairs, reiterated to the Board five primary points of the University’s vision to serve the health care needs of Minnesotans statewide, now and for decades to come. The vision honors the Medical School’s 135-year-old mission and the University’s comprehensive research and teaching missions focused on nearly all health professions. The five points include:

  1. Operate a world-class academic health system that ensures Minnesotans have access to a leading academic health system, which brings forward all of the benefits of integrated research, teaching and top-level clinical care.
  2. Establish University governance and control over this academic health system, including University ownership of flagship U of M facilities: the University of Minnesota Medical Center - East Bank and West Bank, Masonic Children’s Hospital and the Clinics and Surgery Center.
  3. Remain open to opportunities for strategic partnerships with numerous health systems. Not only is this essential to fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission, it maximizes the reach of this mission-focused work and impact on the health of all Minnesotans. 
  4. Continue planning for a new, state-of-the-art hospital, which Minnesota will badly need as the current hospital facilities on the East Bank and West Bank continue to age past their useful lifespans. A newly designed, state-of-the-art hospital complex on the East Bank will move clinical and academic medicine forward for the next century, but it will take years of continued, careful planning to realize.
  5. Commit to investments in current facilities, with state and community partners, to effectively bridge across the next 5-10 years, until a new hospital is available. The University’s faculty and patients need well-functioning facilities today.

“Our vision centers on the commitment that all Minnesotans have access to a top-tier, nation leading academic health system that makes a difference in their lives,” said Frans. “The mission of the University, which is to serve Minnesota, and the public interests of the State must be front and center as we continue discussions about this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

U of M, CentraCare move ahead with rural health-focused initiative
Following a December Board discussion about opportunities to strengthen a partnership between the Medical School and CentraCare Health, the Board approved a non-binding statement of interest with CentraCare on Friday morning.

Tolar, joined by Ken Holmen, president and CEO of CentraCare Health, provided additional details before the Board’s vote about how this partnership would help address the daunting challenges facing healthcare in rural communities, notably the growing shortage of medical professionals. 

The statement of interest specifically outlines intentions for the Medical School and CentraCare to jointly develop and oversee a comprehensive rural health program that leverages the organizations’ respective strengths. This affiliation would touch all areas of the Medical School’s mission, including teaching, research and clinical services, guided by an oversight committee equally representing both organizations.

Exciting new initiatives envisioned by this agreement, including a medical school campus in St. Cloud, will layer on top of a successful history of collaboration between the organizations, which will help ensure superior clinical care and the education of Minnesota’s future rural physicians. This existing partnership includes a collaborative residency program dating back more than 25 years with U of M Family Medicine, a training track for health resource services and administration in Willmar and the University of Minnesota Physicians’ collaborative orthopedics practice.

The Board also: 

  • Approved a collective bargaining agreement covering Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc (LELS).
  • Approved President Joan Gabel’s Recommended 2023 State Capital Request.
  • Discussed the framework for the FY2024 annual operating budget with Julie Tonneson, vice president and budget director for University finance and operations.
  • Approved development of a public comment portal to enhance the Board’s public engagement approach, which follows a series of committee discussions on the topic.
  • Discussed systemwide public safety planning.
  • Reviewed strategic enrollment with presentations focused on the Rochester and Twin Cities campuses, as well as systemwide transfer student initiatives.
  • Approved the University’s annual performance and accountability report.
  • Approved real estate transactions, including the sale of 2050 Roselawn Avenue West, Falcon Heights, and the purchase of 80 acres in Mower County.

The Board’s next regular meeting is March 10, 2023. Visit for more information.

Media Contacts

Jake Ricker

University Public Relations