Regents will talk merger

by Brian Bakst

University officials will update the Board of Regents on Thursday on the proposed merger between the University Hospital and Fairview Health System.
Regents will also view critical measures pertaining to the third and final phase of University 2000, University President Nils Hasselmo’s plan to prepare the University for the 21st century. In addition, regents will be updated on the progress of the biennial budget request and discuss the Faculty Senate’s tenure proposal presented at the regent’s June meeting.
Regarding merger plans, Hasselmo said, “All major issues are on the table and substantive progress has been made.”
The merger report will detail governance, financial structure, staff organization and operational and legal concerns of the proposed affiliation.
A special regent vote, which could authorize the University administration to implement a final merger agreement, is scheduled for July 29.
The University Hospital and Fairview announced plans to merge in November. Some have called the merger a step toward the corporatization of the University.
But Hasselmo disagrees. “We are not corporatizing the University,” he said. “We are trying to maintain a strong academic community.”
Fairview seeks to gain the University Hospital’s world-renowned specialty services. The University hopes to gain a stable patient and financial base for the Academic Health Center, Hasselmo said.
Regents approved the framework for merger negotiations in January. But because of slowed negotiations between the University and Fairview, the original June deadline for final agreements was postponed.
A Fairview board of trustees will review the agreement in two weeks. Should both sides pass a resolution approving a final agreement, the merger could become official by the end of the summer.
In other business:
ù Hasselmo will present the framework for the 1997-99 state budget request. The outline is necessary for developing a budget request, which regents will initially review in September.
ù Officials will present an update on the progress of U2000 including guidelines for evaluating U2000 in terms of outreach and use of technology.
Marvin Marshak, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, said the guidelines are a way of evaluating what U2000 has achieved and how it can further those achievements. “They are a road map,” Marshak said, to see “whether we have moved in the direction we want to go.”
ù Regents will discuss the Faculty Senate’s tenure code plan, which was presented at the June regents’ meeting. The proposal allows for a more thorough post-tenure review process and the possibility of an extended pre-tenure period.
ù Regents first alluded to tenure changes in November. Since then, the issue has sparked numerous debates. Some faculty members have questioned the impact of tenure changes on faculty retention and recruitment.
Regents met in June with consultant Richard Chait, a member of the consulting team that regents hired in May for $25,000 to evaluate proposed changes in the tenure code. Many regents said the meeting was informative and helpful.
ù University professors Avner Friedman and Edward Prescott will be honored as the newest Regent’s professors, the highest honor given to any University professor.
Only 18 professors at the University share that distinction. An annual $10,000 award is given to each Regent’s professor, who holds that title for life. The distinction is given for outstanding academic achievement in teaching and research.