Regents talk University progress

The UniversityâÄôs Board of Regents convened Thursday to discuss issues including audits, litigation, educational planning and student affairs. University President Bob Bruininks is scheduled to present his biennial budget proposal to the regents during FridayâÄôs session. The Educational Planning & Policy Committee heard from Provost Tom Sullivan and the University Plan, Performance and Accountability Report. Measuring the UniversityâÄôs progress across time and against comparable institutions, Sullivan touted higher ACT scores and class rank for incoming freshmen, increased study abroad rates, more international students and high graduate student satisfaction rates. Sullivan and the regents committee discussed the problem of four and five year graduation rates, which have been lower than the UniversityâÄôs goals. Sullivan told the regents the University is working toward graduation goals. âÄúWe need to remain focused on transformational, not just incremental improvements,âÄù Sullivan said when framing the trends and changes in the report. The audit committee heard from Institutional Compliance Office Director Lynn Zentner, who spoke about how the University is working to change how it manages and oversees compliance and conflict of interest issues. Plans to bring in outside bodies to aid in review are in the works. The majority of the audit committeeâÄôs discussion centered on the UniversityâÄôs probationary status from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International. Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy told the committee that AAALAC accreditation is something the University prides itself upon and the probation will be rescinded soon. The Urban Research and Outreach Center moved further toward construction goals during the afternoon. The center will be constructed inside a vacated shopping center in north Minneapolis and is estimated to cost $3.6 million. A vote on the center passed unanimously. A potential addition to McNamara Alumni Center was also brought to the table. A four- or five-story office, event and restaurant space is planned where a courtyard now stands. The project is estimated to cost $9.7 million with hopes to begin excavation Dec. 1 and reach completion Sept. 1, 2009. Check for updates from Friday’s session, and Monday’s Daily for a full recap of both days.