Board of Regents review past semester; look forward to spring

Agenda items include tuition rates for international students, standardized tests, athletics and building demolitions.

The University's Board of Regents talk at a meeting on June 10, 2016.

Zach Bielinski

The University’s Board of Regents talk at a meeting on June 10, 2016.

Raju Chaduvula

As the semester comes to a close, the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents will meet Thursday and Friday to review the past semester while looking forward to spring.

Agenda items include tuition rates for international students, standardized tests, athletics and building demolitions, among others.

Academic Health Center

One point of discussion will be an amendment to demolish the current Veterans of Foreign Wars Cancer Research Center and Masonic Memorial Building to make space for the new Academic Health Center.

Regent Thomas Devine said the lack of a bonding bill last legislative session meant the University didn’t get money from the state for the new AHC building. Voting to raze the building would kick-start the process.

But Devine said he is hesitant to take any action without having the money approved to build the AHC.

“It’s not that we are not going to tear these buildings down, but the new [AHC] hasn’t been funded yet,” Devine said.

Relocation of the sports bubble

Regent Michael Hsu said regents will again discuss the possible relocation of the Recreation sports bubble.

Last month, regents voted to demolish the Electric Steel Elevators near TCF Bank Stadium, but they pushed a decision about the bubble to the December meeting.

Regents hope to relocate the bubble to the site of the old grain elevators once they are razed, Hsu said.

The University is being sued by a group of preservationists attempting to stop the school from demolishing the elevators, which has some regents worried about moving forward.

“I’m a little uncomfortable [with] taking any action before the lawsuit is settled,” Devine said.

Other proposed sites for the bubble include parking lots 33 and 37, which are north of Mariucci Arena, Devine said.

Standardized testing

Regents will discuss the importance of standardized tests in application reviews, student placements and predicting graduation rates.

The board is trying to determine how effective standardized test scores are at predicting a student’s college performance, Hsu said.

Devine said he wants to see a more holistic approach to admissions for both new and transfer students.

Regent Richard Beeson said he supports standardized testing and said data shows a strong correlation between test scores and college performance.

International student tuition

Regents are looking at whether international student tuition can be more flexible than out-of-state rates, Beeson said.

International students make up 9 percent of the University’s undergraduate student population.

Non-resident, non-reciprocity student tuition was raised by 7.5 percent this year on the Twin Cities campus to keep undergraduate resident tuition flat, said Regent Chair Dean Johnson.

With increased tuition, the international application numbers saw a three percent decrease this year, Johnson said.

Athletics Audit

The Board will also hear an Athletics Department audit regarding the department’s finances.

Devine said the audit is done annually and nothing abnormal is expected to be found.

“Mark [Coyle] and his people have done an excellent job,” he said. “He’s changed the culture of financial decision-making at the athletics department.”

Regent elections

Regents are also expected to talk about the election of new regents. Four current board members’ terms — those of Darrin Rosha, Thomas Devine, David McMillan and Laura Brod — expire in 2017.

Devine said he applied for a second term as an at-large representative.

“If I’m lucky enough to be re-elected … my highest priority focus is on the medical school [to] see the rankings go up,” Devine said.

The Regent Candidate Advisory Council, a legislative commission, will review the applications. The RCAC will then send its nominations to the state Legislature for approval, Hsu said.

The new regents will likely be chosen by February, but it might take until April for the final decisions, Hsu said.