U of M president thanks Gov. Dayton for proposed investments in tuition freeze, medical school

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler today thanked Gov. Mark Dayton for his proposed investments in the University – including half of the funds needed to freeze tuition and $30 million toward the Medical School – and noted he will continue to advocate for the U at the Legislature in the weeks ahead.

“I’m thankful for Governor Dayton’s support,” Kaler said. “We appreciate that he recognizes the importance of improved access and affordability for students on all five campuses. Affordability is among my top priorities, and we need a strong partnership with the state to keep tuition down for students.”

The University is requesting $127.2 million over the next biennium for four priority areas. Dayton’s proposal provides $32.6 million toward the $65.2 million tuition freeze, or roughly half of the investment necessary to hold tuition flat for all resident students.

“Ours is a bold request,” Kaler said. “Minnesota’s public research university cannot short-change its students, the state’s next generation of leading health professionals, or its diverse communities. I’ll be at the Legislature in the weeks ahead to support the governor’s proposal and try to build on it.”

Also included in the governor’s proposal is the $30 million investment in the University of Minnesota Medical School. Pending approval from the Board of Regents, Dayton’s plan would help the University hire 50 new tenure track faculty medical researchers over the next eight years, creating medical discovery teams to address the state's most pressing health care needs. The plan would also help secure new grants from funding agencies.

“The governor shares our goal to further raise the quality of the Medical School nationally,” Kaler said. “This investment will help recruit and retain top faculty, attract the best medical students and meet the health needs of all Minnesotans.”

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

  • $34.5 million for Healthy Minnesota, to strengthen the state’s health care delivery and address workforce shortages. The initiative would expand education and training programs in dentistry, psychiatry, mental health and geriatrics—particularly in Greater Minnesota and underserved communities.
  • $15 million for Facility Condition Improvement Strategy, for 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 of Minnesota’s communities.

The governor’s proposal marks a 5.2 percent increase to the University's base general fund state appropriation, or about half of the requested 10.6 percent increase.

If fully funded ($684.6 million), by 2017, the U’s 2015 biennial budget request would restore funding to essentially the same level the state provided in 2008, without adjusting for inflation. 

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