Task forces set to reshape U

Matt Graham

University President Bob Bruininks presented the Board of Regents with the University realignment plan when the board met Friday.

He unveiled the final structure of the 33 task forces that will investigate the organization of the University and look at how to most efficiently align resources to move Minnesota into the ranks of the world’s top three public research institutions.

The task forces will report back to Bruininks in December, though he said it may take two to three years to implement their suggested changes.

Bruininks said one of the biggest issues the task forces face will be determining when the University has achieved top-three status.

“Our biggest challenge is going to be looking at how to measure qualitative initiatives,” Bruininks said, comparing those with more easily measured quantity issues, such as money spent.

Bruininks said he will create a full-time position in his office to monitor the task forces and expects the College of Human Ecology, College of Natural Resources and General College to be integrated into other units by July 1, 2006.

Board of Regents Vice Chairwoman Patricia Simmons emphasized that it will be the board’s responsibility to “ensure that there are adequate resources” for the task forces.

Regent David Larson said that while there will be resistance to certain parts of the plan in sectors of the University, the board must be “very enthusiastic advocates for the plan” in order for effective changes to be made.

Student relief approved

The Board of Regents also approved tuition waivers for students displaced by Hurricane Katrina who will attend the University this semester.

However, Regent Steven Hunter suggested that the University should facilitate transfers for students who do not wish to return to their original schools.

“I think there’s a good chance that a lot of these students won’t want to go back to New Orleans,” he said.

Other announcements

Bruininks also introduced the new dean of the nursing school, Connie Delaney, and the new dean of the graduate school, Gail Dubrow, to the board.

Associate Vice President of University Relations Donna Peterson presented the board with the legislative report.

Peterson noted that the University community hopes for a special legislative session on the new Gophers football stadium. She also said Academic Health Center funding will now come from the state’s general fund rather than being tied to cigarette sales after the recent increase in the cigarette tax, which is expected to drive down cigarette sales.