Hennepin County, the U announce relationship

The partnership will reduce costs for both the University and Hennepin County.

Mohamad Elmasry

The University and Hennepin County are engaged in a new partnership to connect the school’s scholarship “with the actual hands-on laboratory that is Hennepin County,” said Randy Johnson, Hennepin County Board of Commissioners chairman.

Johnson talked about the new relationship between the University and Minnesota’s largest county at the State of the County address Friday at Coffman Union. More than 100 people attended the event, which was the first-ever county event at the University, he said.

One way to strengthen Hennepin County is to form a tie with the University, Johnson said. The new alliance will link the University’s resources with services provided by all 30 county departments.

The University and the county will reduce costs by contracting purchases, Johnson said.

“At Hennepin County, we realize that one way to help us succeed in this time of tight budgets is through a stronger collaboration with one of the state’s greatest resources – the University of Minnesota,” he said.

University President Bob Bruininks introduced Johnson at the event. Bruininks said he’s “particularly excited” about the growing partnership.

As part of its plan to become one of the top research universities in the world, the University wants to engage county leaders, Bruininks said. He said he hopes the partnership can make a real difference in Minnesota.

Johnson said the University and the county have a long, informal history of working together. Hennepin County Medical Center and the University have a working relationship.

The county also has informal ties with University schools and departments, such as the Law School, Carlson School of Management and the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, he said.

Johnson asked the audience to provide ideas for University and Hennepin County collaborations.

“As our collaboration unfolds, I am certain that we will discover more and more opportunities to strategically work together to solve important public policy issues,” he said.

Sheila Ards, associate vice president for community partnerships and development at the University, said the partnership will make those who attend the University better students.

“It brings their research and education to life,” she said.

Ards said some issues the partnership will address are early childhood education, education of new immigrants, and business and economic development.

Johnson also spoke about the general state of Hennepin County, its financial condition, public safety and homeland security measures, new technologies, and newly opened libraries and service centers.

“The state of the county is sound, but it is very seriously challenged, Johnson said.

He said Hennepin County’s five primary goals are to assure due process and to help people be healthy, protected and safe, self-reliant and mobile.