Bruininks gets raise

Nina Petersen-Perlman

The Board of Regents heaped praise upon University President Bob Bruininks at its March meeting Friday and awarded him with a raise for a job well done.

Bruininks will get a 5 percent pay increase retroactive to July 2005 for a fiscal year payout of $365,925. He’ll get another 5 percent increase July 1, bumping him up to $384,221 for academic 2006-2007.

Board Chairman Tony Baraga said the raise was needed to stay competitive with the compensation received by other Big Ten presidents.

“It’s more than justified by the president’s performance,” Baraga said.

Regent David Metzen went so far as to predict Bruininks will go down in history as one of the “finest presidents the University has ever had.”

Bruininks, who has been a University employee for nearly 40 years and president since 2002, also will see his retirement benefits swell to fifth highest among Big Ten chief executives in total compensation.

The new contract will deposit $125,000 per year for two years and $150,000 in 2007-2008 into a fund accessible to Bruininks after he retires from the University.

If he chooses to return to the faculty upon the conclusion of his presidency in 2008, he will have an endowed chairman position waiting for him with research support funds available to him for as long as he stays.

“I thank the board for supporting me in what I believe is the most exciting job on earth,” Bruininks said.

The Board also approved a request for $330 million from the Legislature to fund new buildings and researchers for the Minnesota Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority.

“We have very special challenges, but extraordinary opportunities, particularly when you map those strengths of the University of Minnesota to the strengths and comparative advantages of the biomedical sciences industry of our state,” Bruininks said.

Frank Cerra, senior vice president for the Academic Health Center, said the new, high-tech buildings are needed to attract top-shelf researchers.

“These faculty, who are recruitable, demand the right kind of research space,” Cerra said. “The kind of research space you need to perform in biomedical sciences is not the same as it was 50 years ago.”

Cerra listed the achievements of the University’s medical advancements in recent years, but said much more could be done with support from the state.

“We’re doing it, but we need the investment to get there,” Cerra said.

Evaluating the University

In other research news, a report produced by the University of Florida ranked the University of Minnesota as tied for sixth among public research universities in its annual report – the same as last year.

The report measures factors such as research power, private support, faculty quality, advanced training for students and undergraduate preparation.

The University improved in the areas of faculty awards, doctoral degrees granted, annual giving, faculty members who belong to national academies and freshmen scores on college entrance exams, but slipped in the number of postdoctoral appointees.

The report measured the two years when the University was hit hard by a $185 million state budget cut, a circumstance Bruininks said made the University’s relatively high placement more significant.

Tying for first were University of California at Berkeley and University of California at Los Angeles, along with the universities of Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Minnesota tied for sixth with the universities of Florida, Illinois, Texas and Washington.