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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Board studies tuition pitfalls

Today’s University students are taking on more loans than ever before, leaving the typical five-year undergraduate with about $26,000 of debt and the typical professional student more than $111,000 in the hole.

The University’s Board of Regents’ Finance and Operations Committee reviewed an analysis yesterday showing tuition and financial aid trends nationwide.

Although the board didn’t vote on any initiatives dealing with tuition at the meeting, Regent Frank Berman said the information presented could affect board decisions on issues like tuition increases.

“I feel badly that students are getting saddled with so much debt,” Berman said.

When it comes to funding initiatives like those that have arisen from the University’s strategic positioning task force recommendations, Berman said the University won’t be able to rely on tuition to pay the bills.

The first 11 of the University’s 34 task forces submitted their final recommendations to the provost last week as part of the University’s realignment plan to become one of the world’s top-three public research universities. The recommendations called for new buildings, new programs and new staff members, among other things.

“It doesn’t look as if tuition will be a very ready source for that,” Berman said. “We need to look at other revenue streams, and I don’t see them.”

Education Sciences Building

The Facilities Committee discussed the renovation of the former Mineral Resources Research Center to an Education Sciences Building, which will house three departments from the College of Education and Human Development.

As the center of taconite research that led to viable mining of the ore, the building is a historic one for Minnesota.

The renovated building will house the department of educational psychology, the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement and the Center for Early Educational Development.

Because the departments are now spread across the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, having them in one building will create a stronger research infrastructure, said Michael Perkins, associate vice president of Capital Planning.

It will take considerable resources to renovate the building, which has several environmental problems, for its fall 2007 opening. The building has been vacant since the early 1990s.

“The environmental assessment has indicated that, like most older buildings, there’s asbestos that needs to be removed and traces of other chemicals that need to be cleaned up,” said Kathleen O’Brien, vice president for University Services.

Some regents asked whether it would be better to just knock down the building and start over, as the cost to renovate would be high. Other regents, like David Metzen, said it would be a shame to destroy a part of Minnesota’s history.

“When it makes economic sense, we should preserve history,” Metzen said. “It’s what we’re all about.”

The Facilities Committee also discussed the acquisition of parcels of land around the proposed on-campus stadium site. The $3 million price tag for the 4.5 acres at 23rd Avenue and University Avenue the University is purchasing from ConAgra Foods is a little too steep for Berman.

“We’re getting killed out there because they smell stadium,” Berman said.

The area east of the University also is being purchased for future research facilities.

“In the last two years we’ve acquired property because of recognition we’re going to be increasing the size of our research enterprise,” O’Brien said.

Alcohol concerns

Edward Ehlinger, director of Boynton Health Service, presented information from a spring 2005 Boynton-administered CORE Survey on alcohol, tobacco and drug use to the board.

According to the survey, 45.1 percent of 18- to 24-year-old students admitted to partaking in high-risk drinking, considered by Boynton to be five or more drinks in one sitting, within the past two weeks.

Ehlinger, along with Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for Student Affairs, discussed the national trends and the college atmosphere that encourages drinking norms.

“There is an environment on campus that increases alcohol use,” Rinehart said.

Ehlinger said the University offers many programs for alcohol awareness and resources, including alcohol-free activities such as the Gophers After Dark program, alcohol classes and clinical services.

After the presentation, the board asked questions about what the University has done as far as treatment and what it can do in the future.

Regent Peter Bell cited Augsburg College as an example of a place where part of a residence hall is alcohol-free and coordinated with Hazelden, an addiction treatment facility, for students in recovery.

Patricia Simmons, vice chairwoman of the Board of Regents, posed future points of discussion, such as a greater level of effective therapy, funding research and identifying students with drinking problems.

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