Regents reconfigure U’s budget request

School officials slimmed down the school’s request to better match the governor’s proposal.

Dean of the Medical School Brooks Jackson speaks during the Board of Regents meeting at McNamara Alumni Center on Friday morning.

Liam James Doyle

Dean of the Medical School Brooks Jackson speaks during the Board of Regents meeting at McNamara Alumni Center on Friday morning.

by Christopher Aadland

The University of Minnesota is seeking less funding from the state. The Board of Regents lowered the school’s 2016-17 biennial budget request by $9 million on Friday.

The amendment follows Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal, which he announced last month. It sets aside enough state dollars for only half of the tuition freeze the school is hoping for, but provides $30 million for the University’s Medical School.

The school also hopes to receive state funding for research on the effects of mining and an initiative to address Minnesota healthcare workforce shortages. Those plans, however, weren’t included in Dayton’s budget proposal.

The regents agreed to modify the school’s $127.2 million request to better match his proposal, which only covers about one-quarter of the University’s total request.

“By amending the request, we are buying into a focus on our Medical School in partnership with the state,” Regent Laura Brod said at Friday’s Board of Regents meeting.

Dayton formed a Blue Ribbon Committee last year to boost the Medical School’s prestige and address the state’s health care workforce needs.

Medical School Dean Brooks Jackson and University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter presented the committee’s recommendations to the board on Friday, which includes a plan to hire 100 new faculty members.

Dayton’s $30 million plan for the Medical School includes employing 50 new faculty members over eight years to help secure additional National Institutes of Health grants.

Regent John Frobenius said receiving state funding is an important step in improving the Medical School’s standing, but even more assistance will be needed in the future to address medical education.

“I just want to make sure that we don’t [accept this funding] and it’s done,” he said. “Medical education is going through an enormous transition in this state.”

Board Chair Richard Beeson said the University should keep its autonomy from the state in mind as it continues budget discussions at the Capitol this session.

“We reserve the right to evaluate proposals — financial or policy — that originate from the Legislature,” Beeson said at the meeting. “This is a wonderful proposal, but from an autonomy standpoint, we do need to be aware of that.”

The University will present its revised budget to the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee on Wednesday. Legislators will agree on a final budget for the school before the session ends in May.

Also at Friday’s board meeting, regents agreed to alter development plans for UMore Park.