The Regent Rundown

The Board of Regents is holding committee meetings from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. today in Morrill Hall in rooms 238 and 300. The board will meet in its entirety from 3:45 until 5 p.m. this afternoon and from 9 until 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Following are highlights from some of the major issues before the committees.
Facilities Committee
Committee members will begin discussions on the upcoming Coffman Union renovations. The project needs approval so that an architect can begin working by the end of April. By October, board members expect to see detailed schematic plans for the renovation.
Regents will also vote on restoring the West Bank bridgehead. The bridgehead is the plaza area between Blegen Hall and the pedestrian level of the Washington Avenue Bridge on the West Bank.
The restoration project would include complete removal and replacement of the bridgehead surfacing, repairs to the plaza stairs near the H.D. Smith Bookstore and improved lighting in the plaza and bus stop areas on both sides of Washington Avenue.
Faculty, Staff & Student Affairs Committee
The committee will review a report outlining the University’s progress in recruiting and retaining diverse faculty members. The report shows that the school has been successful in retaining faculty members with diverse gender and ethnic backgrounds, but that officials need to work harder to recruit them. The report addresses specific programs that are in place to increase the diversity of the faculty.
Members will also continue discussions on semester conversion. After last month’s board approval of a new tuition structure, the committee will address how University policies, vendor contracts and scheduled events such as commencement exercises will change under the new system.
Administrators say the change to the semester system will give the school a chance to simplify the variation in academic policies across colleges. For example, the 19 colleges or programs offering undergraduate degrees on the Twin Cities campus handle admissions in 19 different ways and deal with registration in 15 different ways.
Finance & Operations Committee
This committee will hear an update on the University’s $1.28 billion legislative budget request for 2000-2001. The briefing will bring members up to date on legislators’ actions on the school’s request.
The state House and Senate each set target levels of funding for each component of the state’s budget, including higher education. The House just completed these appropriations and the Senate is still in the process.
Members will also review the budget for Facilities Management. The organization has an annual operating budget of $116 million, which includes responsibility for maintaining 250 buildings, 46 miles of sidewalks, 13 miles of streets and 11 miles of steam tunnels. Ninety percent of Facilities Management’s expenses go toward utilities, maintenance and custodial costs.
Educational Planning & Policy Committee
Committee members will discuss the school’s policy on all “intellectual property” that is created with University resources. Intellectual property includes any invention, discovery, copyrightable work or trademark and related rights.
Regents will review the current University policy and discuss possible changes in regard to patents, ownership rights and distribution of income resulting from University-owned research.
Regents will also review a report on the University’s use of its 7,500-acre property in Rosemount. The land is used for an agricultural experiment station and several other University research projects. The rest of the land is leased to various tenants.
Plans call for potentially using the property as a model for land use planning, development and management. Planners hope the property will eventually have a global influence on agricultural and environmental research and education.

Audit Committee
Members of the audit committee will not be meeting today.

— Stacy Jo Enge