Bruininks discusses University’s future

University President Bob Bruininks spoke about attracting students nationwide.

Jerret Raffety

University President Bob Bruininks discussed on Wednesday the possible changes coming to the University from the recent task force recommendations.

From the Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics on the St. Paul campus, Bruininks met with leaders and students about why the changes are needed to make the University a top-three public research institution.

After the speech, Bruininks said that he spoke to make a case for change while listening to comments and ideas from people in the academic community.

Bruininks requested insight on how to implement this plan, which he said will be integral for its success.

“Some of the people in this room are going to be the ones implementing and facilitating the (plan for the University’s future),” Bruininks said.

The event attracted approximately 130 people, said John Byrnes, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences director of communications.

During his speech, Bruininks outlined the history of the plan.

He also emphasized the importance of future planning over reactionary planning.

“If we don’t get moving, we won’t be about the business of getting better; we’ll be about the business of managing decline,” Bruininks said.

He also outlined the planning priorities in academic and administrative contexts. Strengthening academic leadership, improving standards for education and admission, and reducing operating costs and cross-disciplinary work are among these priorities, he said.

Bruininks also spoke about the vision for merging the College of Natural Resources and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

“Essentially, it’s about food systems. It’s about environmental science and policy, and it’s about renewable resources,” Bruininks said.

Allen Levine, a food science and nutrition professor, attended the event and said the department already has a cross-disciplinary tradition and is prepared to change if it merges with the College of Natural Resources.

Bruininks fielded questions and comments from the audience.

He emphasized the importance of keeping the best students in Minnesota and attracting others nationwide. This not only improves the University but helps businesses all over the state, he said.

“We need to be a strong talent magnet,” Bruininks said. “Seventy percent of (students from out of state) stay here and contribute to the Minnesota economy and quality of life.”

Bruininks also addressed the strong sentiments against the recommendation to dissolve General College and future student access to the University.

“It’s not about lowering enrollment at the University of Minnesota,” Bruininks said. “Not every unit that provides support, research and education at the University needs to be a college.”