U reps seek fundingfor St. Paul campus

by Jerret Raffety

University students, staff and faculty members promoted St. Paul campus programs with the Legislature on Wednesday at the Capitol.

Twenty-two representatives from the College of Biological Sciences and the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences spoke with 20 senators and state representatives to make budget requests, said Emily Johnston, alumni and external relations coordinator for the College of Biological Sciences.

“We want to show the legislators what we’re doing with our research and how that will benefit the state and national communities,” Johnston said.

Face-to-face conversations are more effective than phone calls and e-mails, Johnston said.

“We’ve heard first hand from legislators that calls and e-mails just don’t work as well,” she said.

Representatives of the two colleges also spoke for the University at the House Higher Education Committee meeting, Johnston said.

Bob Elde, dean of the College of Biological Sciences, stressed previous accomplishments of the college, such as genomics breakthroughs and future research such as biosciences as reasons for an $84 million two-year budget request.

He also emphasized the need for the college to explore new research that incorporates fields such as engineering and math.

“Our vision for 2015 can’t be as clear as it is looking back over the last 10 years, but our goal is to transform biology, and this is what the executive vice president and provost is holding us to,” Elde said.

The two-year budget request would allow the University to attract and retain top students, staff and faculty members, Elde said.

The discussions between the colleges and legislators were organized by the University Legislative Network as part of a series called Collegiate Days at the Capitol.

“It’s a chance for these constituents to tell their personal story and explain what the ‘U’ means to them, and, in that way, they are advocating for the ‘U,’ ” Johnston said.

One of the goals is to build support for the University’s bonding bill. The request asks for $158.1 million in state funds, according to the Legislative Network Web site.

This request would go toward improving University facilities such as Kolthoff Hall, the Education Sciences Building and the Academic Health Center educational facilities.