Hasselmo touts U’s successes

by Chris Vetter

While University President-elect Mark Yudof spent the day being briefed on University affairs, the current president, Nils Hasselmo, briefed legislators on the University’s achievements.
Hasselmo presented information Wednesday on such issues as technology and graduation standard improvements at the University to the Higher Education Finance Division in the state House. The presentation is one of several that will take place before the committee makes its recommendations on the University’s budget request to the full House.
“You must recognize that the University of Minnesota is truly a world-class University,” Hasselmo told the legislators. “It looms on the national and international scene.”
Hasselmo presented information on several improvements at the University over the past nine years, ranging from an increase of students of color on campus to the improvement of the four- and five-year graduation rate at the University.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that someone cannot graduate in four years from the University of Minnesota,” Hasselmo said. “We now guarantee it can be done.” Hasselmo explained the new four-year graduation guarantee, which will provide students with the classes they need to graduate in four years if they take a full classload every quarter at the University.
Hasselmo credited the improvements of graduation rates and reduction of class sizes to his U2000 plan, a five-year program that is designed to improve the campus and make it more efficient.
The success of Hasselmo’s plan hinges partially on the technological capabilities of the University, so the president and Michael Handberg, of the registrar’s office, displayed recent improvements in technology available to students.
Handberg showed the committee the University’s World Wide Web page, and explained how students can register for classes, find out information about professors, and access class syllabuses from their computers.
“We are working very hard to make (the Web page) user-friendly for the students,” Handberg said. “We are using technology to humanize the University.”
Many of the representatives said they were impressed with the University’s Web page.
“This is phenomenal technology you have presented us with here today,” said Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona.
Rep. Henry Kalis, DFL-Walters, a 1995 University graduate, said the Web page is a dramatic improvement over just a few years ago.
“The Web site goes a way to solve some of the bureaucratic complaints students have had with the University,” Kalis said.
But Rep. John Tuma, R-Northfield, a University graduate, said he fears the technology will lead to less communication between students and professors.
“There is a culture of little advising on the University campus,” Tuma said.
Marvin Marshak, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, explained to the committee plans to wire all campus dorms for Internet service over the next three years. He also outlined a plan that would require incoming freshman to have some Internet and computer knowledge.
“There are a set of basic technological standards you should know upon finishing 12th grade,” Marshak said. These standards include being able to send and receive e-mail, use online libraries, and the ability to access the Web, Marshak said.
“We view the computer as a tool … almost as important as a pencil and paper,” Marshak said.
Pelowski said Hasselmo deserves credit for the technological improvements at the University.
“This type of thing doesn’t occur without help from the top,” Pelowski said. “A lot of credit goes to Mr. Hasselmo.”