Rochester campus gets boost

Bryce Haugen

Over the next few years, the University’s Rochester campus might see drastic changes.

“The Rochester area is projected to grow 70 percent in the next 25 years and its economy is growing even faster,” Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in a prepared statement. “It is clear that Rochester needs a stronger higher education presence.”

The governor visited Rochester on Wednesday to announce the results of a comprehensive study on the topic.

Pawlenty proposed more than $3 million for a new committee, which will take the project to the next level, according to a statement. He also recommended an additional $16 million for the next three years of operating funds.

Although the state Legislature still must approve the recommendations, they appear to have bipartisan support.

Currently one building ” the University Rochester Center ” houses several satellite college campuses, including the University of Minnesota and several Minnesota State Colleges and University branches.

The committee included higher education officials from the area, including University Regent Dave Metzen. According to him, University President Bob Bruininks announced his support for the proposal.

Metzen said the idea is “to create a different kind of higher education institution,” combining the region’s technology, medical and business communities.

Both the world-renowned Mayo Clinic and IBM have large presences in the city.

But the expansion will have an impact beyond the region, Metzen said.

“It’s not about Rochester; it’s about what’s best for the state,” he said.

Pawlenty appointed the committee after proposing the idea in last year’s State of the State address ” delivered in that city.

At that time, Bruininks said the University didn’t have the money for expansion, unless the state coughed up some cash.

Metzen said he’s excited about the project’s next phase.

“I believe the potential is unlimited,” he said.

Robert Jones, the University’s senior vice president for System Administration, said Rochester’s size and notoriety make it the perfect place for a world-class higher education institution.

“This is an opportunity to be really innovative,” he said.