The state will need to “properly align itself for the future” to remain successful, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said at a luncheon Tuesday in McNamara Alumni Center.
“It isn’t a good strategy plan to stand still when the rest of the world is moving 100 miles per hour,” he said.
Pawlenty was the keynote speaker of First Tuesday, a monthly luncheon hosted by the Carlson School of Management that draws in chief executive officers and managers of Twin Cities companies.
The governor introduced ideas for an improved Minnesota that would include a balanced taxation program, a rigorous high school curriculum to prepare students for college and an increase in funding for education.
Pawlenty also expressed support for the University’s plan for the future, saying, “Big institutions need to change Ö you want to ride it and not get swamped by it.”
While the governor spoke to a crowd of 380 business professionals and members of the University community, including University President Bob Bruininks, there was a different discussion taking place outside the alumni center.
Members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800 protested the presence of the governor on campus and held signs reading, “Pawlenty NOT welcome! Stop cuts to ‘U’ Budget! No Corporate ‘U’!”
“He has a lot of nerve to come use the ‘U’ for his ideas as a platform at the same time he is slashing funding for the ‘U,’ ” said Brad Sigal, a clerical worker in the School of Public Health.
Other protesters wore pins that read “GC Proud” and handed out literature that depicted Pawlenty and Bruininks as leaning toward a more corporate University.
Sigal said Pawlenty’s support of the plan to close General College is “elitist and racist.”
Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800, also called the governor “neoconservative” and said he is disrupting the land-grant mission of the University.
“How dare him show his face at this institution after cutting funding to our higher education land-grant institution,” she said.
Inside, Pawlenty expressed words of enthusiasm and encouraged listeners to be proud of the state’s many accomplishments. He said those achievements include its reputation of having the most high school graduates in the nation and one of the best places for entrepreneurship.
“Minnesota does really well, and we should be proud of that,” he said.
University senior Jason Parker said the governor had a solid vision for the state.
Kathryn Alexander, a senior in the Carlson School of Management, said she supports Pawlenty’s ideas for improving high school curriculum.
As a result, “the University can become a world-class institution because of its students and not only the faculty,” she said.