University considers Rochester campus;

Amy Olson

The University on Wednesday moved one step closer toward creating a branch campus in Rochester, Minn.
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities’ Board of Trustees voted to approve a statement to establish the University as the primary institution at the University Rochester Center.
University Vice President and Provost Bob Bruininks and MnSCU Vice Chancellor Linda Baer presented a statement of governing principles Tuesday that was approved by the entire board Wednesday.
But the agreement still needs the approval of the University’s Board of Regents, and the center will need $5 million in funding from the state Legislature, said trustee Nancy Braatas.
University President Mark Yudof and MnSCU Chancellor Morris Anderson signed the pact creating the partnership in January 1998.
If approved by the regents, the agreement would establish a non-residential branch campus in Rochester. It will have a permanent faculty and administration and will offer day classes.
The University has offered extension classes through the center for 20 years, and now offers some courses through its distance education program. The center would still continue to offer programs through Rochester Community and Technical College, and upper-division and graduate-level classes through Winona State University.
“Individuals, community groups and organizations such as the Mayo Foundation have stated their strong desire to have a larger University of Minnesota presence in the area,” Bruininks said in a prepared statement. He could not be reached for direct comment.
Braatas said Rochester residents have wanted the partnership for more than 50 years.
Winona State University President Darrell Krueger said the school offers master’s degrees in education and master’s in business administration degrees through the center. It also offers a nursing degree.
While the existing partnership works well, Krueger said Rochester’s residents think the city’s growing technology businesses and the Mayo Hospital and Clinics would benefit from stronger ties with the University’s research focus.
But unlike the University’s four existing campuses and universities like Winona State, the center is not intended to become a residential campus. Instead of having a traditional, four-year liberal arts program, the center will focus on part-time continuing education.
“I think that’s the future of higher education,” said Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, R-Rochester.
The proposal still requires approval from the Board of Regents. Kiscaden said the center would still need to secure legislative funding that would not come out of either the MnSCU or University budget requests. She said officials hope to get the request through the Legislature this spring.