Regents to examine Law School, housing

They will also discuss the state’s education inequities in its first meeting this semester.

Youssef Rddad

When the University of Minnesota Board of Regents meet for the first time this year on Thursday and Friday, they will discuss the future of the Law School, student housing and cybersecurity, as well as inequities in K-12 education. 
 
 
Additionally, the focus of many of the discussions will revolve around long-term planning for the Twin Cities’ campus. 
 
 
The board will also review resolutions regarding support for academic freedom and the ability for faculty to use human fetal tissue in research, as well as a review of external audits within the athletics department. 
 
 
Changing trends across Law School
 
 
As enrollment for the Law School declines, David Wippman, dean of the Law School, and other University leaders will discuss enrollment trends Thursday morning, as well as the job market for lawyers. 
 
 
The goal of the discussion is to financially plan for the Law School’s future
 
 
Applicants to the University’s law school have dropped 49 percent in the past six years, following national trends of a 40 percent decrease in the past 10 years, according to board documents. 
 
 
Housing and planning 
 
 
Regents will review private housing development along the eastern edge of the East Bank, including student housing and a 30-year plan for the Academic Health Center and housing needs.
 
 
University leaders will talk about whether to increase residence hall beds and whether to continue to rely on the private sector to provide housing for upperclassmen. 
 
 
Unlike other schools that offer guaranteed housing for students throughout their undergraduate years, the University only promises housing for students’ first year, said Regent Michael Hsu. A college’s ability to guarantee housing is a selling point for prospective students, he said. 
 
 
“The University needs to decide if we’re going to build any new housing,” Hsu said. “Our strategy in the past, before my time, was to let the private market take care of it, and I think that was a mistake.”
 
 
Cyber security talks continue
 
 
As part of a $19 million request to the state Legislature to help fund cybersecurity infrastructure, Regents will discuss details about the University’s roughly $78 million network overhaul. 
 
 
Chief information officer and interim Vice President Bernard Gulachek and other University leaders will present before the board on Thursday afternoon. 
 
 
“Research documentation, health care and, of course, the good overall protection for students, faculty and staff need to be protected,” said Board Chair Dean Johnson. 
 
 
The Board will review and vote on components of the project beginning in fiscal year 2017. 
 
 
K-12 inequities and the achievement gap
 
 
Also on Thursday, executive director of the University’s College Readiness Consortium Julie Sweitzer will share the range of programs and how the school is addressing K-12 educational inequities — a statewide concern. 
 
 
Sweitzer said she plans to share the range of research on programs related to educational equity at the University.
 
 
“We know a lot of what we need to do in terms of effective practices,” Schweitzer said, “The challenge is implementation.”
 
 
University President Eric Kaler has emphasized efforts to bridge the K-12 achievement gaps since he took office in in 2011.