Panelists to discuss solutions to key problems facing state

The University of Minnesota will host the three-part discussion April 6.

by Danielle Nordine

Minnesotans and lawmakers are facing issues from the budget to education standards, and the University of Minnesota is offering a venue to discuss solutions. Three panelists will engage Tuesday in the first of three discussions, called âÄúMinnesotaâÄôs Future: 3×3,âÄù aimed at finding solutions to key problems facing the state: the economy, health and education. âÄúThe goal of these evenings is not to do what we usually do at the University, which is spend hours admiring the problem and presenting academic papers,âÄù said Steven Rosenstone, vice president for Scholarly and Cultural Affairs. âÄúWe want to focus on solutions and focus our energy on a couple of things that will make a big difference.âÄù Each session will feature three panelists and a convener, with participants from the University as well as other experts. The first session will focus on the economic health of the state, featuring input from state demographer Tom Gillaspy, former U.S. Congressman Tim Penny, and Dan Carr, president and CEO of The Collaborative, a company aimed at helping companies, entrepreneurs, investors and executives find financial success. Panelists will have about 10 minutes to present solutions and ideas for solving the issue, and the rest of the session will be open for questions and discussion. State legislators were sent invitations to the events, Rosenstone said, and he said he hopes officials will use the suggestions in their legislation to âÄútap the University for what itâÄôs really good at.âÄù The second session on March 30 will feature issues including health care and MinnesotaâÄôs aging population, while the final session, to be held April 6, will tackle education standards from elementary school through college. âÄúMost people are aware that these issues exist, but often itâÄôs sort of at a more abstract level,âÄù said Larry Gray, a University mathematics professor and panelist for the third session. âÄúThis will allow for an opportunity to get ideas and solutions from people who are really familiar with the details of the issues.âÄù All sessions will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium in the Humphrey Center. âÄúWe as a University ought to be able to contribute to the conversation to help the people of the state of the Minnesota,âÄù Rosenstone said. âÄúThatâÄôs part of our charge at the University.âÄù This series comes at an opportune time in the stateâÄôs history, said Kent Pekel, executive director of the College Readiness Consortium at the University, who organized the April 6 session. âÄúThere is a sense of anxiety about the future of Minnesota,âÄù he said. âÄúWe have a lot to be proud of in the past, but we are facing the issue of whether we are on the right track to remain competitive in the future.âÄù