Bruininks presents recommendations to regents

by Anna Weggel

University President Bob Bruininks presented his recommendations for the future of the University at Friday’s Board of Regents meeting.

He proposed eliminating the College of Human Ecology, the College of Natural Resources, and the General College and integrating them into broader academic homes.

Bruininks said small colleges often face particular challenges, and many departments at the University are bigger than General College.

“It’s not about being elitist, it’s about focusing on performance,” he said.

Bruininks said the work of departments in the College of Human Ecology would be strengthened by realignment.

The College of Natural Resources would be integrated into a new, expanded college.

In regard to General College, Bruininks said the number of graduates coming out of the college is unacceptable.

“(The closing of the college) is not intended to reduce enrollment, access, or diversity at the University,” he said.

General College will become a department within the College of Education and Human Development, Bruininks said.

He said he plans to extend the period of implementation from two to three years. He said in the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 academic years, General College students will be jointly admitted to the new department and a degree-granting college.

He said this will help students and faculty members transition into the new changes.

Minnesota Student Association President and student representative to the Board of Regents Tom Zearley thanked Bruininks for consulting students during the past month.

Zearley said MSA passed a resolution that supported not closing General College, but noted that the resolution passed by a one-vote margin.

He also asked Bruininks to continue consulting with students on the proposed changes.

In other regents news

University officials discussed institutional conflicts of interest and a new location for the construction of a “Hope Lodge” at Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting.

Assistant Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Richard Bianco said the policy addresses institutional conflicts of interest, which occur when research, teaching or outreach might be compromised because of a business relationship at an institutional level.

The policy, which was reviewed at the Educational Planning and Policy Committee meeting, calls for the University to be aware of any relationships involving financial gain that may compromise its integrity, and to establish an oversight process to manage those conflicts.

“We are certainly at the forefront of looking at this and developing it,” Regent Peter Bell said.

At the Facilities Committee meeting, the regents reviewed a plan to purchase the property, currently operating as Econo Lodge, at 2500 University Ave. SE.

The University Cancer Center, Fairview-University Medical Center and the American Cancer Society are requesting the construction of “Hope Lodge.”

The lodge will offer a home-like atmosphere for adult cancer patients who have traveled from out of town for treatment. All accommodations and services will be free of charge to patients and caregivers and are supported by donations.

The University and the American Cancer Society will share the real estate. The University’s $2 million dollar share, which represents approximately 75 percent of the real estate, will come from donations to the University’s Cancer Center.