Regents discuss U’s role in preparing students for college

by Melinda Rogers

University officials are developing strategies to give potential
students in the Twin Cities
metropolitan area a variety of choices for continuing their education.

At the Board of Regents meeting Thursday, officials discussed the University’s responsibility to prepare, recruit and graduate metro-area students.

Because there is only one major public university in the metro area, the regents hope to develop future strategies to maintain degree options for Twin Cities students.

“The goal is to make sure prospective students in the Twin Cities are well-served,” said Peter Zetterberg, director of institutional research and reporting.

“The basic question is about whether higher education opportunities in the Twin Cities are good and I believe they are,” he added.

Zetterberg noted that during the 1999-2000 school year, 53 percent of students in Minnesota studied in the metropolitan area, which offered a total of 705 different degree programs.

Of that 53 percent, 30.7 percent attended the University.

“The Twin Cities ranks third in the nation in students per capita. The U is the third largest public campus in the nation,” Zetterberg said.

The board discussed possible collaborations with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and private schools to develop ways of improving preparation of metro-area students for postsecondary education.

“If the world is moving towards higher tuition, the distinction between institutions becomes less critical. It’s important to work with private institutions on this issue,” said Regent Michael O’Keefe.

Robert Bruininks, University executive vice president and provost, said improvements in the preparation of K-12 students for postsecondary education is an issue the Legislature has encouraged colleges to look into.

“The Legislature would like to see a little more joint planning between public institutions on the development of access, career opportunities and lifelong learning in Minnesota,” Bruininks said.

“It matters greatly to worry about the future education preparation of our youth,” he said.

The University established an “America Reads” literacy initiative and a minority encouragement
program as part of its goal to improve collegiate outreach.

The board will continue
discussing strategies to improve education options for students in the metro area in upcoming months.

Melinda Rogers welcomes comments at [email protected]