Regents OK budget, capital funding

The board also voted to allow earlier public sales of unsold student football tickets.

Tyler Gieseke

 

The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents gave its formal nod on Friday to President Eric Kaler’s budget and capital improvement funding for next year.

 

The board gave the green light to a more than $3.6 billion budget that freezes tuition for undergraduates paying in-state tuition for another year and includes $20 million in administrative cuts. Regents also approved the nearly $292 million capital improvement budget, which includes funding for the renovation of Tate Laboratory of Physics and a new Bell Museum of Natural History on the St. Paul campus.

 

“Being able to freeze Minnesota resident undergraduate rates as well as medical school and veterinary school tuition is very important,” Kaler said. “It helps with access and affordability.”

 

Regents approved both Kaler’s budget and the capital funding unanimously, but not without cautioning administrators against taking on large debts for projects, like the Bell Museum, in the future. 

 

The state Legislature approved $51.5 million in funding for the construction project this session, while the University will get $3.5 million in specific increments until 2041 to pay for the building — a tactic some regents said dipped into funds that could be better spent elsewhere. Regent Patricia Simmons told the board she supported the new Bell Museum and would vote for it, but only because it’s been a University priority for a long time.

 

Kaler said the museum’s funding method was a one-time solution to what had been a recurring issue. “It’s not going to be a model going forward,” he said at the meeting.

 

The regents also voted to allow earlier public sales of unclaimed student football tickets, a move University athletics officials hope will bring more life to game days at TCF Bank Stadium this fall.

 

“We want to continue to take steps that will help our program grow,” said Mike Ellis, the University’s executive associate athletic director.

 

Last season, the public could purchase any unsold student section tickets beginning the Tuesday before each game. Now, those tickets will go on sale as early as the Monday after the first week of the school year. 

 

Football ticket sales have plummeted from more than 10,000 in 2009 to about half that last season. By selling student tickets to the public earlier, Ellis said, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics hopes to improve attendance and the overall game-day atmosphere.

 

“What we’re trying to do is create a better environment for our football game days,” Ellis said.