Regents hold annual retreat, discuss U’s future

Kari Petrie

Board of Regents members said last week that defining the University’s mission during tough economic times will be a goal for the next two years.

Regents outlined two-year goals at their annual retreat, held this year in St. Paul. Other goals included marketing the University to Minnesotans and creating comprehensive, long-range academic and financial plans.

Jeans and T-shirts replaced double-breasted suits for the retreat, where the board held open discussions on its performance in the past year and how to improve in the future.

Regents said recent reductions in state funding could change the University’s academic mission.

However, they said the University should reach out to greater Minnesota during a slumping economic period.

“When greater Minnesota thrives, the rest of the state thrives,” Regent Dallas Bohnsack said.

Making the University more visible in the media is also a priority, regents said.

Regents said they do not think Minnesotans understand the University’s value to the state.

Regent Clyde Allen said the University is an “economic engine” for the state.

If the public better understood this value, it might be more supportive of the institution, regents said.

The board wants to create long-term plans for academics, finances and capital funding.

Regent William Hogan said it is time for the board to think “outside the box” for different types of funding.

“We need to look at something very, very different,” Hogan said.

University President Bob Bruininks said it is important to inform legislators about the importance of state funding.

“We don’t control this game completely,” Bruininks said, referring to the fact the University depends on the state’s funding decisions.

Regents also discussed how tuition increases might affect the type of students who attend the University.

Hogan said he was concerned higher tuition could change the class and race mix on campus.

Kari Petrie covers the Board of Regents and administration. She welcomes comments at [email protected]