News Release

U of M research enterprise celebrates historic year for achievements, funding

Two individuals conduct research work in a wetland area

Leaders from the University of Minnesota’s research enterprise will present their annual report to the Board of Regents next Thursday, a report punctuated by the U of M exceeding $1 billion in annual externally-sponsored research awards for the first time in its history. Preliminary numbers highlighting this achievement were announced in September. December’s Board meeting provides a public opportunity to discuss the record-breaking year and the incredible work that fueled its success.

This past year represents a 31 percent increase in externally-sponsored research awards over the previous year, due in part to $256 million in awards related to COVID-19. Interim Vice President for Research Michael Oakes will provide context and detail about the University’s success with external funding, as well as comparisons and rankings among peer institutions. 

The Board will hear more about and discuss the future of the University’s research enterprise, which is unique among higher education in Minnesota and makes the University one of America’s leading research universities. Oakes will highlight how the University is prioritizing problem-solving and innovation impact with Minnesota communities and businesses in alignment with MPact 2025, the University’s systemwide strategic plan, and how his office is undertaking collaborative and innovative administrative approaches to support and grow the University’s robust research mission. 

Oakes will also share the University’s continued success in commercializing technology developed by its researchers, with a record 20 startup companies spun out in FY2021 and strong results posted for other technology transfer indicators. Oakes will discuss how the University has been deepening and coordinating its work with companies through a new Corporate Engagement Center that serves as a single point of contact for businesses large and small.

As part of its December meetings, the Board is also expected to:

  • Act on the Twin Cities campus plan, which was reviewed by the Board in October 2021 after several public discussions to establish guiding principles and provide input into the process.
  • Discuss recommended approaches to encouraging multidisciplinary research and teaching following a presentation on the topic from academic and research leadership.
  • Act on a resolution related to dining operations on the Twin Cities campus.
  • Act on the President’s recommended supplemental state budget request for the 2022 legislative session.
  • Review draft language updating Board of Regents Policy: Namings, the latest step in an ongoing policy review process led by President Joan Gabel.
  • Receive the report of the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC)/Senate Consultative Committee (SCC) from FCC/SCC Chair Ned Patterson.
  • Receive updates and discuss proposals related to MPact 2025, including an enterprise risk management plan and financing options for strategic efforts.
  • Review the University’s annual performance and accountability report with Gabel and Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson.
  • Act on employment agreements, including the contract for recently selected Chief Auditor Quinn Gaalswyck and an updated contract for Gabel.

For more information, including future meeting times, visit

Media Contacts

Jake Ricker

University Public Relations