Increase in scholarships expand access for Minnesota students

February 10, 2017
A glass apple with the regents seal on it

More Minnesota students are now accessing need-based scholarships from the University of Minnesota, thanks to the University’s increase in available funding for the 2016-17 academic year.

The expansion of need-based aid was among the progress points outlined by Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster in an annual update on enrollment management to the University’s Board of Regents today.

Nearly 14,000 Minnesota resident undergraduate students across the University’s five campuses received a U of M Promise Scholarship this academic year. This includes 1,500 first-time recipients, thanks to an increase in the family income cap to $120,000, compared to $100,000 previously. This change was made to increase the number of students from Minnesota’s low- and middle-income families who benefit from financial support while attending the state’s flagship university.

Created in 2007, the U Promise program guarantees aid for Minnesota families with incomes under $120,000. Since then, more than 40,000 students have been served across the U of M system. More details on the program can be found in this press release.

“Student success is always our number-one focus,” said McMaster. “Our continued growth in student satisfaction, record retention and graduation levels, and increased financial support are all important ways we serve Minnesota families and provide students with a world-class education that is also affordable.”

McMaster also highlighted efforts in support of the Twin Cities campus five-year enrollment plan, approved by the Board last year. These include welcoming 5,880 incoming undergraduate students, the most diverse in University history, and largest entering first-year class since 1970; retaining and graduating more students than ever before; and meeting the needs of Minnesota’s workforce by awarding more than 3,300 STEM degrees, an increase of nearly 200 (6 percent) year over year, with a goal of 3,600 by 2020-21.

Regents will continue to receive regular updates on implementation of this plan. Additionally, the Board has committed to a work session at the May meeting to discuss the diversity of the student body and consider possible amendments to the plan.

Protecting human research participants
Interim Vice President for Research Allen Levine and Medical School Dean and Vice President for Health Sciences Brooks Jackson highlighted the completed implementation phase of a major effort to advance human research protections, as well as improvements to research practices in the Department of Psychiatry.

In a presentation to the Board’s Audit and Compliance Committee, Levine and Jackson discussed significant efforts in the 18-month period to implement more than 60 recommendations from an external review committee. The work positions the University’s research with human participants as a national model.

“Our work has been truly been transformed,” said Levine, who began in his role on January 1st. “Almost nothing in our program has gone untouched. We have listened to those who have had concerns and taken many of their important suggestions, especially in communications with research participants, and training for our staff and faculty.”

Among the changes implemented were expanded Institutional Review Board (IRB) panels to review researchers’ projects with human participants, a new electronic system to streamline and improve the process of submitting projects for IRB approval, enhanced professional training for researchers and their staff, and new tools created in consultation with health advocates to ensure that recruitment of participants, especially those with impaired ability to consent, is done with the utmost respect and protection.

Jackson, who oversees the University’s health and biomedical research enterprise, highlighted progress of a joint University-Fairview Health Services committee overseeing research work; the adoption of Good Clinical Practices, an international standard for researchers; and new leadership in the University’s Department of Psychiatry.

“The protection of human participants requires a total team approach,” said Jackson. “As we go forward, we need to make sure this approach is reinforced by and ingrained in everyone who plays a role in research. We will continually monitor research practices and make sure everyone is trained to ensure we remain a leader in this area.”

Committee Chair Regent Laura Brod lauded the University’s success in completing the implementation phase, but cautioned that the program requires ongoing attention and work from faculty and staff.

“The completion of the implementation phase required a great deal of work by faculty and staff, and we as a Board are proud of this progress,” said Brod, who served as the Board’s liaison on the implementation plan. “The work is not ‘done’ by any means, and Regents will continue to monitor this work regularly moving forward.”

The Board also:
Discussed student mental health resources, which continue to receive significant attention from University leaders. Demand remains high but all students seeking mental health services on the Twin Cities campus are being promptly evaluated, and most are receiving on-campus care, thanks to increased resources for clinical care. More details on efforts are in this press release.
Received an update on Operational Excellence program, showing that the University is $68.5 million, or 76 percent, toward President Kaler’s goal to reallocate $90 million in administrative costs by 2019.
Reviewed work of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, including primary functions; staffing and funding; student Title IX investigations; employee discrimination, nepotism and retaliation investigations; and the office’s placement within the University’s structure.
Approved the contract for Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck, as well as the appointment of Matt Kramer as vice president for university and government relations. Kramer will begin Feb. 22.

See President Kaler's report to the Board.

The Board will meet again March 23-24 on the Duluth campus. There will be no committee meetings held. The full Board meeting will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 24. For more information, including meeting times and locations, go to the Regents website.

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