Regents aim to track U goals with the yearly report

School leaders are planning to start working on the public Progress Card by winter.

Keith Min

To keep an eye on a wide range of ambitious goals for the University of Minnesota, school leaders are looking for a way to quantify its progress.
 
By this winter, the University is expected to begin creating an annual public Progress Card to track figures such as graduation rates, research spending and facilities conditions.
 
“It will be, in a real sense, our North Star,” President Eric Kaler said at a presentation to the Board of Regents on Friday.
 
Medical school rankings, faculty awards and graduation rates of Pell Grant students are among the criteria planned to be included in the document that would ultimately help
shape regent budgeting decisions as well as changes in admissions and course requirements.
 
“It is my general belief that most progress can be measured and should be measured in a quantifiable way,” said Regent Richard Beeson, who spearheaded the Progress
Card during his two years as board chair. “Information and data tell a story.”
 
The Progress Card would add a quantitative dimension to how regents evaluate the school.
 
“It’s not good enough to say … ‘It feels like we’re doing OK,’ ” said Board Chair Dean Johnson. “We want to know for sure that we’re doing better and improving.”
 
The card would also track data that, in part, extend beyond the school’s control, like ACT scores for entering freshmen, undergraduate debt at graduation and University facilities that are in poor or critical condition.
 
The report — which Johnson said would be a single, two-sided document — will be updated yearly.
 
“It’s a document that’s not going to collect dust,” he said.
 
The regents will review the Progress Card proposal again at their October meeting before voting on whether to approve it.
 
Once it’s created, Beeson said, the board will likely modify the document’s list of goals and corresponding metrics.
 
“My expectation is that some of this will drop off, some will be added on … I think we need to live with this document and work with it for a period of time to understand whether we’ve really got the right data points,” he said. “Goals do drive behavior. In that regard, this should help.”