Bruininks delivers ‘State of the University’ address

The University president focused his talk on four pillars of the strategic positioning effort.

Tiff Clements

University President Bob Bruininks presented the annual State of the University address to a crowd of about 250 members of the University community Thursday at Coffman Union.

The speech was an update of strategic positioning initiatives and outlined goals for future elements of the initiative.

In a question and answer session after the address, the president highlighted the importance of creating and strengthening international relationships.

“I don’t believe you can be a great university without being a great global university,” Bruininks said.

The president said he wants to do more to attract international students, like offering more support during the visa process, and to welcome them once they have arrived.

While he drew attention to the University’s global ambitions, Bruininks emphasized its local impact. He focused on the institution’s relationship with the state of Minnesota, highlighting the school as a source of trained employees and research innovations.

Bruininks also called for legislators and citizens to make financial contributions to its research.

“The ‘U’ requires a stronger partnership with Minnesota,” he said. “We’ve asked the governor and the Legislature to make a serious and sustained investment in the University, because such an investment will create new resources and human capital needed for the future.”

The University requested $182 million from the Legislature in its biennial budget earlier this year.

The Senate passed a bill two weeks ago that would give the University nearly $140 million, and legislators in the House are working on a similar bill that would give the University $169 million. The two houses will reach an agreement on University funding after the House bill is complete.

Cash for faculty success

A portion of the University’s funding request, $28 million, is marked for offering financial bonuses to current and potential faculty.

In his address, the president commended the Faculty Senate and the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee for passing changes to the University’s tenure code in a meeting before the address Thursday.

“Today’s vote on the adoption of tenure code revisions is an important step toward fostering faculty achievement,” Bruininks said.

Associate professor in the communication studies department Kirt Wilson said the new code more clearly defines tenure standards. He said this will motivate faculty to perform their best and give students a richer academic experience.

“Part of what the tenure code does is provide goals for the faculty that they can then use as an incentive to do the best work they possibly can,” Wilson said.

Student involvement

The crowd at Coffman Union skewed older, preferring sport coats to sweatshirts.

First-year English and psychology student Sarah Mattison said she attended the speech because she’s a member of the University’s Student Senate.

“Student involvement in student government in general seems to be down,” the Morris student said. “They seem to be more interested in their school work.”

University alumnus Richard Orr said it is important students understand the work being done with the University’s strategic positioning campaign.

“Students need to take these events more seriously and understand that they have a stake in it,” he said.