Research is important part of the U’s mission

The University is not pursing research at the expense of education.

August Schwerdfeger

In her Oct. 4 column, âÄúReclaiming Public Education,âÄù  Lolla Mohammed Nur highlights several legitimate issues, such as the University of MinnesotaâÄôs escalating tuition rates. However, as a former research assistant at the University, I believe she goes overboard in her criticisms of the UniversityâÄôs goal to become one of the top three public research institutions in the world.
First, Nur calls President Bob Bruininks an incompetent liar for approving the construction of âÄúflashy stadiumsâÄù while the University is in a tight financial spot. But in the case of TCF Bank Stadium, at least, a majority of the funding for construction was raised specifically because the University could not have used the money elsewhere.
Secondly, she is too critical of the UniversityâÄôs research, âÄúcringingâÄù upon hearing of âÄúour scientific and technological advances,âÄù while claiming that putting money toward research diverts resources from education, to the extent that students must work all of 20 hours a week to pay tuition (thus apparently violating their human rights).
But this overlooks the fact that much research funding, like the stadium funding, is only available for that specific purpose âÄî and also that a significant part of that funding goes to pay student research assistants, many of whom receive tuitions benefits.
As Nur herself points out, research is as much a part of the UniversityâÄôs mission as education, and there should be a balance between the two. But Nur is still a long way from convincing me that this balance has been unduly upset, let alone that officials inside the UniversityâÄôs administration are incompetent and that they are lying to us.
August Schwerdfeger, University alumnus