U of M Board of Regents endorses plan to strengthen human research protections

Today the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents voted unanimously to endorse and direct the administration to fully implement a human research protection work plan that will ensure the U is conducting research at the highest standards of ethics and science.

"With our actions today, the Board of Regents has directed implementation of a bold and comprehensive plan that protects patients, and creates a strong culture of accountability and transparency,” said Board Chairman Richard Beeson. “It charts the right course for the future of medical research at this University, and we will oversee its full implementation.”

An Implementation Team, led by Mayo Clinic’s William Tremaine, M.D., and consisting mainly of U of M faculty, created a draft work plan in mid-May. The final plan includes recommendations from the external panel that reviewed the U’s program, as well as input from more than 70 individuals and groups that provided feedback during a public comment period. As part of the Board’s continuing oversight, a final version of the work plan was presented to the Audit Committee Thursday.

The plan provides strong, comprehensive direction to strengthen the U’s research enterprise, better consider the needs of patients and their families and conduct research at the highest standards, according to Kaler.

“Minnesotans want us to get this right, but they also want us to continue the research that they and their family members depend on,” said Kaler. “The work plan is responsive to campus and public calls for reform while ensuring that the U and its researchers can still excel in research, patient care, education and ethics. I will work with the Board to ensure it is implemented fully.”

The University’s commitment to implementing the plan, estimated at nearly $8 million, is reflected in Kaler’s proposed FY16 budget and in plans for FY17 and beyond. With Board approval, the University will also provide monthly progress updates to the Legislature. Those reports will be posted publicly here.

Access, affordability and academic excellence
Kaler’s proposed FY16 operating budget supports the University’s three-part mission of teaching, research and outreach.

Because the Legislature did not fully fund the U’s request to freeze tuition for all resident students for another two years, Kaler is proposing a modest 1.5 percent ($150-$180 depending on campus) increase to resident undergraduate tuition - the lowest percentage increase since 1999-2000. Tuition increases for resident graduate and professional students average 2.5 percent while tuition would increase 7 percent, or $1,350 annually, for non-resident undergraduate students on the Twin Cities campus.

Kaler stressed that low- and middle-income students will largely have the tuition increase offset by financial aid, including a proposed $1.4 million increase in need- and merit-based aid. The new aid will mitigate or eliminate the tuition increase for 42 percent of the U’s resident undergraduates who have family incomes below $100,000 annually. Small increases in student fees and room and board rates are also recommended.

Administrative savings of $17.4 million are also proposed for FY16, part of Kaler’s goal to cut $90 million by FY19. Combined with reductions in FY14 and FY15, the U will be $57.8 million (or 64 percent) toward that goal in the first three years.

New investments in academic programs, the Medical School, the Twin Cities campus strategic plan, the U’s system campuses and 2 percent merit-based compensation increases for faculty and staff are also recommended. More details on the budget are available here. The Board, which hosted a public forum on the recommended budget following the Board meeting Friday, will act on the budget at a special meeting on June 24.

The Board also:

  • Reviewed the recommended capital budget, which authorizes nearly $92.9 million for the design or construction of facilities, as well as funds for repair and renewal of aging facilities across the system. Proposed projects include design of a new health sciences building on the Twin Cities campus, supported by the Legislature this year; infrastructure improvements in parking, transportation, dining and housing and residential life on the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses; and supporting the changing needs of College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Assessed the 2014-15 performance of President Kaler as he completes his fourth year at the University. The Board highlighted the President’s “outstanding” service as an “ambitious, resilient leader.” Among Kaler’s notable achievements: addressing grand challenges through the approved strategic plan for the Twin Cities campus, focus on Operational Excellence and controlling costs, philanthropy, student success and diversity and inclusion. Kaler’s openness and accessibility to Regents, faculty, students, staff and other stakeholders was noted as well.
  • Received an update on employee health insurance, including that there will be no rate increase and no plan changes for UPlan health insurance in 2016. The U has kept health care costs below national trends by effectively negotiating with vendors, managing pharmacy costs and promoting our Wellness Program.
  • Elected new leadership. Regent Dean Johnson of Willmar was chosen as the new chair of the Board. Regent David McMillan of Duluth will serve as vice-chair. Both were elected unanimously. For more, click here. (link)

See the President’s report to the Board here.

The special meeting of the Board on June 24 will begin at 11 a.m. For more information, click here.

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