Education association head plans to retire in February

Angela Gray

Nils Hasselmo, president of the Association of American Universities, announced Wednesday he will retire in February 2006.

Hasselmo led the association, which comprises 60 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and two in Canada, as it helped persuade Congress to double the budget of the National Institutes of Health over five years.

Ann Speicher of public affairs for AAU, said the National Institutes of Health is the largest single source of money for academic research.

“Hasselmo and the association have worked hard to increase federal funds for research in the physical sciences,” Speicher said.

Before coming to the association, Hasselmo, a linguist, was provost at the University of Arizona and president of the University of Minnesota.

“I had a wonderful experience at the University of Minnesota,” he said.

Hasselmo, 75, joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 1965 as a professor of Scandinavian languages and literature. He later became associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, he said.

The University completed the Weisman Art Museum and the Carlson School of Management building under Hasselmo’s watch. Also completed during his time at the University were the Basic Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Building, the Ted Mann Concert Hall and the Mariucci and Williams sports arenas.

In May, the Basic Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Building was renamed Nils Hasselmo Hall.

Hasselmo said his main focus for the University was to improve the undergraduate experience.

“No university can neglect its undergraduates and still achieve national acclaim,” he said.

Hasselmo said some of the largest challenges President Bob Bruininks and the University now face are funding, public investments, maintaining status as a world leader in

research and providing access for students to quality education.

“The U will need to look into other economic resources for funding, and work hard to compete with Asian and European universities to be the leader in research,” he said.

Hasselmo said he has great respect for Bruininks.

“Bruininks is a leader, and I think he is doing a great job,” Hasselmo said.

Bruininks said Hasselmo was a key advocate for higher education in general and for the unique role of research universities in particular.

“Just as he did here at Minnesota, he’s left an indelible legacy of progress and steady leadership,” Bruininks said.

After he steps down as president of AAU, Hasselmo said, he will explore the special opportunities of retirement.

“I plan on reading some Brian Greene, doing some writing and traveling with my wife across the Atlantic,” he said.

Hasselmo said the University has been very good to him.

“I still receive e-mails and phone calls from students,” he said.

Speicher said Hasselmo is leaving the AAU when it is at its best.

“I think Hasselmo is a very special person and highly regarded for his accomplishments at the AAU and the University of Minnesota,” she said.

“After all, the U did name a building after him,” Speicher said.