Planning for the 1997-99 biennial budget request to the Legislature is the administration’s top priority, University President Nils Hasselmo said Monday.
During his monthly media briefing in Morrill Hall, Hasselmo outlined the importance of the budget request and also restated his support for tenure code changes proposed by the Faculty Senate.
Hasselmo said the budget request is another step in the implementation of the University 2000 restructuring plan. The plan, first introduced in 1993, is aimed at helping the University prepare for the 21st century.
Hasselmo said he is pleased with the progress of U2000. Since 1994, more students of color and students in the top fourth of their graduating high school classes have been admitted to the University. Also, class sizes have been reduced by 23 percent and student-to-advisor ratios have improved. “We have seen some good and promising developments,” he said.
But Hasselmo also said Gov. Arne Carlson and the state Legislature must be convinced of its progress for the plan to remain adequately funded.
“They keep challenging us over and over again to demonstrate our case,” Hasselmo said. “We are prepared to do that.”
Hasselmo said the budget request will ask for increased information technology funding. This includes computer-aided teaching and other services.
Hasselmo said he recognized the need for extra funding during his visits to various Minnesota communities where the University offers services. He said he was impressed by the interactive teaching services provided by the University in places such as International Falls and would like the services extended.
“We need some major investments in technology to be able to add quality to our learning opportunities we provide through technology,” Hasselmo added.
The biennial request will also address the competitiveness of faculty salaries, Hasselmo said. The University ranks 30th in the salary of full professors, according to the 1995 National Research Council report of the top 34 research schools. The council evaluated the quality of faculty and graduate programs in the arts, sciences and engineering of 274 institutions for the report.
Hasselmo said the University needs to provide faculty salaries that keep pace with other leading universities. He said the University’s ability to pay the best professors is necessary for the institution to remain competitive.
Since last fall, the faculty tenure policy has been under review after regents decided they wanted more flexibility, accountability, responsibility and clarity in tenure-related decisions. Some faculty have said tenure changes will hurt retention and recruitment of faculty, which will harm the University’s competitiveness in research.
During the June regents meeting, Faculty Senate members presented changes to the tenure code. The changes allow for the possibility of a longer pre-tenure probationary period, more temporary faculty appointments and a series of post-tenure reviews. Hasselmo endorsed the policy changes but offered minor suggestions.
Hasselmo said the changes in the tenure policy now lay with the Board of Regents. Discussions will continue in July, but Hasselmo said he cannot predict what actions the regents will take.