U fourth largest city?

John Luhman

I have a historical perspective in connection with The Minnesota DailyâÄôs Oct. 11 editorial, âÄúBigger U a better U?âÄù which warns of the possible adverse effects of greatly increased enrollment. It reminded me of a Minnesota Daily front page in the spring of 1963. It proclaimed, âÄúU 4th Largest City by 1980.âÄù During the early 1960s when I attended the University of Minnesota, enrollment at all levels was rapidly increasing. The year of the above headline, the University had about the same enrollment as today. But the article was noting that, at the then rate of enrollment increase, the University would become MinnesotaâÄôs fourth largest âÄúcityâÄù with 80,000 people, after Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. The Twin Cities campuses then had only half the buildings they do today; the West Bank was just being built, and the St. Paul Campus had just a few thousand students. So there was lots of room for growth, especially since tuition, even by standards then, was relatively cheap at $105 per quarter (tuition and fees) for 13 or more credits. The health care fee was $8. Since the population of Minnesota then was 3.7 million, it meant that close to two percent of the stateâÄôs population was attending the University. It was in the late 1980s under University President Ken Keller that the enrollment was âÄúfrozenâÄù by deliberate policy in retaliation for the state Legislature failing to fully fund the University. The results of that freeze continue today, with occasional increases of a few percent. However, the University as an institution has nearly doubled the number of buildings, facilities and staff. In the 1960s, students made up over three-fourths of the student directory. Now they are not even half. And now the percentage of Minnesotans at the University is barely one percent. By 1960s prices, full-time tuition should be about $1,500 per semester, including health coverage. The editorial raises valid concerns in connection with increases in enrollment. I would proffer that many facilities and classrooms could have substantial increases in use and occupancy with little increase in maintenance or staff. Having more students also creates a more vibrant learning environment. Comparing the facilities of the University with those from the 1960s, the University seems to have more unused potential than a mere percent or two enrollment increase suggests. John Luhman University adjunct professor