In his State of the University address last week, University President Eric Kaler said that the University of Minnesota will involve itself in area development. While the University should be open to interacting with local construction projects, there are other things to consider.
Though just a brief part of his presentation, Kaler said the University will create a “set of guiding principles” later this semester on how the University should work with city governments and campus-area neighborhoods, the Minnesota Daily reported. The goal for the University is to ensure that the University district meets students’ needs because, as Kaler said, “for too long, we at the University have seemed not to care about development surrounding our Minneapolis campus.” Kaler said the plan will be presented to the Board of Regents by June.
While the sentiment that the University District neighborhoods should meet students’ needs is promising, Kaler’s address leaves a lot of questions for University leadership. Several projects have caused some controversy in the last year, like the Venue at Dinkytown and the Doran hotel. These principles come too late for many parts of the University District.
How will these “guiding principles” play into actual University action, or inaction, with development projects? Will they also guide the University’s real estate decisions? Who will have the responsibility to uphold the principles, and what standard of student need will they use?
It’s promising to see the University advocating for students’ needs while the area grows, but University leadership must appropriately guide the University’s voice in development decisions.