Legislative briefing focuses on ways to be an advocate for the U

A Star Tribune columnist was one of the speakers at the event.

Adam Elrashidi

To win, a team not only needs a strong defense, but a strong offense as well, University President Bob Bruininks said Thursday.

Bruininks spoke to a crowd of approximately 300 people at McNamara alumni center for the University’s legislative briefing.

The event was the kickoff for the University’s plan to tell state legislators about its need for additional funding and support, said Mike Dean, University Legislative Network grassroots coordinator.

The event focused on teaching alumni, faculty members, students and staff members the proper techniques and methods needed to become effective advocates of the University.

Andrea Hjelm, University Alumni Association president, said it is important for the University community to get involved and work together to get extra financial support from the state.

“It is our responsibility, and we love this University so much, that we want to encourage the (State) Legislature to have that same passion,” Hjelm said.

Hjelm said the University is confident the state will recognize the value of higher education.

“We’re very hopeful and optimistic that they will value education and will know that the state of Minnesota needs these wonderful human resources to excel,” she said.

Bruininks echoed those views and presented an overview of the University’s two-year budget request.

He said reaching the University’s goal will take hard work but the University is worth striving for because it is one of the state’s “best investments.”

“The next step is that we’ve got the hard work. The race is won by people who stay the course,” Bruininks said. “We have our work cut out for us.”

Lori Sturdevant, a Star Tribune opinion columnist, also spoke. Sturdevant related the story of the late Gov. Elmer Andersen and his love of the University.

Emily Serafy Cox, a dance and women’s studies fifth-year student and Minnesota Student Association legislative chairwoman, said she enjoyed hearing about Andersen’s admiration for the University.

“It was great to hear about Elmer Andersen’s history and why he supported the ‘U’ and how much he supported the ‘U,’ ” Cox said.

While Cox said she believed both Bruininks’ and Sturdevant’s speeches were relatively comprehensive, she felt the speakers should have more-aggressively touched on the state’s inability to fully meet the University’s requests.

At the end of his presentation, Bruininks summed up his view of the Legislature’s performance.

“The Legislature needs to finish its work,” he said. “And it has an ‘I’ for ‘incomplete.’ “