Regents discuss stadium, Academic Health Center

The new on-campus Gophers football stadium and the Academic Health Center received special attention Thursday at the June Board of Regents meeting.

The board had two work sessions to learn about developments with TCF Bank Stadium and the future of the Academic Health Center.

The University hired HOK Sport to design the new Gophers stadium, which is slated to open in 2009.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based firm, designers of baseball fields Camden Yards in Baltimore and Jacobs Field in Cleveland, will receive about $5.5 million to build the first new Big Ten stadium of its size since 1960.

The University could expand the 50,000-seat horseshoe-shaped stadium by filling in the open side with seating and building a second deck, said University President Bob Bruininks.

The Regents also met with Academic Health Center Senior Vice President Frank Cerra, who discussed the center’s current and future directions.

Cerra said the shortage of doctors in Minnesota is “the great unspoken.”

“(The shortage) is there and it’s a problem,” Cerra said.

The center is pushing enrollments to capacity in its medical, nursing and pharmacy schools in response to shortages of doctors, nurses and pharmacists in the state, Cerra said. The demand for these professions “is simply going to grow,” he said.

But debt is becoming a major barrier to health professional education, he said. The average medical student’s debt upon graduating is $140,000. Because of this, more medical students choose to go into more profitable specialties such as radiology and oncology and away from primary care in order to pay off their debt sooner, Cerra said.

Cerra also talked about his vision for health care in 2011. He said he envisions a patient-centered environment where the use of electronic medical records is the norm.

Eleven percent of Minnesota hospitals and clinics have implemented electronic records, he said.

Cerra said that by 2011 the Minnesota Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority, an initiative to build five new research facilities over the next decade, will be “realized and operational.”

Cerra said he also hopes the center will have opened a new children’s hospital by 2011.

Other business

The regents approved renovations to Northrop Auditorium and gave the go-ahead for a new Carlson School of Management building.

Northrop’s air quality is “well below acceptable standards” and its mechanical and electrical systems require complete replacement, said Michael Perkins, associate vice president of Capital Planning and Project Management.

A $10 million gift from University alumnus Herbert M. Hanson Jr. will help pay for the new Hanson Hall, which will expand the Carlson School’s undergraduate program.