Regents approve research safeguards, review budget

The safeguards are expected to take up to a year to implement.

Christopher Aadland

The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents has approved steps the school plans to take to better protect research participants.

Regents approved dozens of steps Friday the University will take to bolster its human research protections after it was blasted in two reports that were released earlier this year. The new safeguards will cost the University about nearly $10 million in the first year and almost $4.5 million each year after that.

The changes are expected to take up to one year to fully implement.

Among the new policies are requirements are a beefed-up institutional review board, the creation of a community oversight board and preventing researchers from collecting fees from companies that sponsor their research.

The reports were the culmination of more than a decade of scrutiny brought on after the 2004 suicide of research study enrollee Dan Markingson.

While Mike Howard, a family friend of Markingson’s mother, Mary Weiss said the University seems sincere in its intentions, he is frustrated it took so long to address concerns over the school’s research practices.

 “Dan didn’t need to die for this to happen,” he said. “This should’ve happened on its own years ago.”

Higher tuition looms

The board also reviewed President Eric Kaler’s proposed budget for next year, which includes tuition increases of up to 7 percent.

If approved by the board on June 24, tuition would jump by 1.5 percent for resident undergraduates and 7 percent for out-of-state undergraduates. In-state graduate and professional students would see a 2.5 percent increase on average.

But Regent Michael Hsu said he thinks extending a tuition freeze to in-state residents is still possible.

“I would like to see a freeze for Minnesota residents … with internal savings,” Hsu said at a board meeting Friday.

University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said at the meeting it would take $6.1 million of reallocation to extend a freeze.

Throughout this year’s legislative session, Kaler said tuition would spike unless legislators gave the University $65 million it said was needed to freeze tuition. Lawmakers ended up allocating about $22 million to the school to freeze costs.

Under the proposed plan, an increase in financial aid will offset tuition increases for about 40 percent of in-state undergraduates, Kaler said at the meeting.