by Stacy Jo

Adhering to his commitment to campus community, University President Mark Yudof outlined several goals and initiatives during his State of the University address at Rarig Center on Thursday.
“In this fragmented, post-modern Information Age, how do we go about reinvigorating a sense of community and common purpose here at the University?” Yudof asked.
Yudof’s speech addressed a number of issues, most of which fit under the umbrella of improving campus community. He spoke of a campus renaissance in which the community’s competing interests will be united.
Yudof’s address focused on several initiatives, including raising faculty-staff salary levels, improving health professional and undergraduate education and creating more University-community partnerships.
The president’s biennial budget request includes a $96 million boost for faculty-staff compensation. Faculty-staff salary levels have fallen to the bottom among the top 30 research universities, placing the University ninth in the 11 schools in the Big Ten and 13 percent below the national mean.
Yudof declared his intent to prevent further neglect of the University’s “intellectual capital.”
“In a very concrete sense, the excellence of faculty and staff are pivotal to the entire University renaissance,” Yudof said.
Yudof declared his intent to ask the Legislature for $32 million in recurring funds for health professional education and $5 million for preventive medicine and community initiatives.
Citing outside factors — such as declines in government funding and the effects of managed care on clinical revenues — as the sources of declining funds for the education of health professionals, Yudof expressed the need to stabilize sources of support in this field.
“The health of health education can’t be left to chance,” Yudof said.
The president highlighted his concentration on improved undergraduate education, as exemplified by the expansion of the Freshman Seminars program.
Yudof plans to ask the Legislature for 100 new faculty members to allow freshmen on all four University campuses to experience the Freshman Seminars program. Nearly 25 percent of freshmen enrolled this year in the seminars, which are limited-size classes intended to enhance study skills and personalize the classroom atmosphere.
Yudof also touted the need for off-campus partnerships and collaborations. He cited the need to create stronger alliances with leading companies in addition to other universities within the state.
The address lasted 20 minutes and was followed by a 40-minute question-and-answer period. Satellite links to the Duluth, Morris and Crookston campuses allowed for input from each of the University’s campuses.
Judith Martin, a geography professor who attended the address, said initiatives such as Yudof’s seminar program expansion produce effects that are tangible rather than temporary.
“There’s a clear kind of result that the taxpayers of Minnesota can see with that kind of initiative,” Martin said.
J.P. Maier, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, said Yudof’s recurring themes of integrity, trust and unification did not serve as mere buzz words to stir listeners’ emotions.
“A philosophy of collaboration has been far more beneficial to the state and the University community than an environment of conflict has been,” Maier said.