U improves in four of five areas

Chris Vetter

As the University continues to wait for its turn at the Capitol, administrators say they are pleased legislators took time to acknowledge the school with $4.5 million for achieving demographic improvements.
“I’m glad we met the targets,” said Marvin Marshak, senior vice president for Academic Affairs.
Legislators in the Senate delayed the first hearing for the University’s budget request Wednesday until next week, but the House Higher Education Finance Division discussed the reward after hearing of improvements in freshman demographics, graduation rates and technology.
The money was appropriated in the 1995-96 legislative session, but both the University and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system had to fulfill requirements in order to receive the money.
The 1995-96 Legislature outlined five points of needed improvement for the University and MnSCU. Fulfillment of each point was worth $1 million.
The University improved on four of the points, falling short only in the area of increasing the number of minority freshmen that also included an increase in the number of minority and female faculty members. Because the University achieved the second half of that goal, legislators approved half of the reward — $500,000 — on that point.
The University succeeded in increasing the quality of incoming freshmen, retaining freshmen beyond their first year, graduating students in five years and increasing the number of credits issued through telecommunications.
Peter Zetterberg, from the office of Planning and Analysis, said telecommunication education was measured by the number of classes students took that used e-mail, the Internet and interactive television.
Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, who chairs the education committee, said the meeting Wednesday was held only to discuss accomplishment of the goals but that the Department of Finance will distribute the money in the future.
The committee expressed disappointment with MnSCU for being unprepared.
“The University pretty much had a handle on things, and MnSCU did not,” Pelowski said.
MnSCU has yet to compile the statistics needed to determine if it has met any of the five goals, Pelowski said. MnSCU will likely return with those numbers in the next month.
— Staff reporter Chris Vetter contributed to this report.