U of M president voices support for Sen. Cohen’s bill to advance the University’s mission

March 3, 2015

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler today presented the U’s biennial budget request before the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee and praised Sen. Richard Cohen’s appropriations bill (Senate File 1195) to invest in the University.

“Senator Cohen’s bill supports and enhances the University’s partnership with the state to benefit our students, their families, Minnesotans’ health and the state’s economic vibrancy, from the urban core to our rural towns,” Kaler said. “It will help us to educate Minnesota’s increasingly diverse population from every community, especially students who show the greatest promise.”

Cohen’s bill includes $65.2 million for research investment, $25.5 million for the Healthy Minnesota initiative and $30 million to invest in the medical school.

“These substantial investments will allow the University of Minnesota to keep tuition affordable and advance the University’s mission to provide outstanding educational opportunities,” Cohen said. “Providing for higher education is an overdue investment in the future of Minnesota. This funding comes at a critical time for the U and shows a strong commitment that to expand important research conducted by the school, and the world-class medical professionals who have agreed to promote this mission.”

The University is requesting an increase of $148.2 million for four priority areas over the next two years, with $65.2 million for tuition affordability as Kaler’s top priority. The investment would allow the U to hold the line on tuition for Minnesota undergraduate, graduate and professional students—approximately 53,000 students across all five campuses.

The three additional areas of the U’s budget request include:

• $55.5 million for Healthy Minnesota and the Medical School, to strengthen health care delivery in the state, address workforce shortages and strengthen U research to address the most pressing health care needs. The initiative would also expand education and training programs in dentistry, mental health and geriatrics—particularly in Greater Minnesota and underserved communities. The medical school investment includes Gov. Dayton’s plan to help recruit and hire 50 top tenure track faculty medical researchers over the next eight years, creating medical discovery teams. The plan would also help secure new research grants from funding agencies.
• $15 million for the Facility Condition Improvement Strategy, which creates a more predictable funding stream to maintain the U’s 29 million square feet of infrastructure. In exchange for this general fund allocation, the U would decrease its Higher Education Asset Preservation and Restoration (HEAPR) capital request.
• $12.5 million for Vibrant Communities, to improve the environmental health and safety impacts of mining and examine related economic development opportunities, and promote economic prosperity in Minnesota communities.

Land O’ Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski also testified before the committee, backing Cohen’s proposed investments and reinforcing the value of the University.

“The University of Minnesota is an important asset that brings value to the state’s overall business community,” Policinski said. “In my view, the University — with its scientists, its researchers its business school expertise and its students — is the state’s single-most important driving force for an innovation culture, an entrepreneurial spirit and a job creation ecosystem.”

Kaler reminded the committee that the University created 67 startup companies over the last eight years, generating jobs and positive economic impact. The total includes a record 15 startup companies in 2014 alone.

If fully funded ($704.6 million) by 2017, the U of M’s request would get the institution back to slightly above the level the state provided in 2008 ($684.4 million), without adjusting for inflation.

For more information on the U’s 2015 legislative request, visit govrelations.umn.edu.

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