U plan aims to foster communication between coordinate campuses

Survey participants at the Morris, Duluth and Crookston campuses said they feel marginalized.

by Raju Chaduvula

Leaders at the University of Minnesota’s coordinate campuses say they’re left out of system-wide decisions.

The school’s System-Wide Strategic Planning Committee presented its findings from a semester-long survey conducted on all five University campuses at a work meeting with the Board of Regents last week in an effort to pinpoint potential changes in system-wide communication.

“By working together … we want to make sure that we are serving the state in the best way possible,” said Rebecca Ropers-Huilman, vice provost for faculty affairs and the committee chair.

Committee members met with administrators, students and faculty at all University campuses this fall and asked them to name benefits, drawbacks and needed changes to the cross-campus system, Ropers-Huilman said.

Survey participants at the Morris, Duluth and Crookston campuses said they feel marginalized.

“The key issue is to convince the big campus that the little campuses have something more to offer other than just existing,” said Morris campus English assistant professor Janet Schrunk Eriksen.

The committee was assembled to pinpoint similar goals across all University campuses and fold them into a shared plan, said Regent Thomas Devine.

Suggestions from faculty, regents and student leaders included centralizing the distribution of cross-campus resources, adopting Twin Cities-centric mental health policies on all campuses and standardizing parent-student orientation.

Twin Cities’ campus computer science and engineering professor Joseph Konstan said University-wide resources such as library materials should be centrally managed, citing complaints from students from other campuses who took online courses and couldn’t access materials from Twin Cities’ libraries.

Mental health changes pushed by the Minnesota Student Association seem insulated to the Twin Cities campus, said Connor Klemenhagen, a student representative to the regents.

And if first-year orientation became standardized system-wide, the University could provide uniform information on alcohol use, mental health issues and sexual consent, Devine said.

The plan — which the committee will present to regents at the end of spring semester and could roll out come next fall — will serve as a soundboard for regents and President Eric Kaler going forward, Devine said.

“[We want] to make sure we point out the common goals the University should have…while keeping the distinctiveness of each campus,” Ropers-Huilman said.