City Council votes to back General College

by Anna Weggel

The Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution Friday in support of General College.

A task force recently gave recommendations to University President Bob Bruininks suggesting dissolving General College into a small academic department within the proposed, reorganized College of Education and Human Development.

Bruininks will present his proposals to the Board of Regents in May, and the board will vote on them in June.

The resolution said Minneapolis supports General College’s effort to improve undergraduate education and its commitment to access and diversity at the University.

The resolution also supports the University’s goal to become one of the top research institutions in the nation.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has until the end of the day Thursday to sign or reject the resolution.

The author of the resolution, City Council member Gary Schiff, Ward 9, said that he is happy the council passed the bill because of the importance of General College to Minneapolis.

“It helps people complete the four-year degree from an institution whose reputation is very important,” he said.

Schiff said he is a University graduate and recognizes the work General College has done for the last several decades.

“They’re leaders in the field of developmental education,” he said. “They provide access to a four-year school that students otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to get into.”

City Council member Scott Benson, Ward 11, said he did not sign the resolution because he felt it was not something he knew much about.

“I really didn’t feel comfortable voting on something where we have been presented none of the information that the regents have considered with regard to making this decision,” he said.

Benson said it is better left to the regents to decide because they are appointed to make policy decisions for the University.

He said the purpose of those in favor of the resolution was probably to influence the people making the decision.

“I think the people who supported the resolution are arguing that the General College has a larger effect on the Minnesota population than it does on the state in general,” he said.

Benson said supporters of the resolution might believe many students in Minneapolis would prefer to attend General College.

But City Council President Paul Ostrow, Ward 1, along with Benson, said he didn’t feel it was a part of the council’s business.

“All of us agreed with a lot of concerns expressed, but we don’t know necessarily what the best solution would be, given the budget constraints of the University,” Ostrow said.

Schiff said the regents will hopefully listen to the council’s resolution and consider the vital role General College plays at the University.

“I’d say woe to the government that thinks educational issues are not germane to their business,” he said. “If we can take time to debate a stadium on campus at the University of Minnesota, we can certainly take time to discuss the future of our youth.”