Campus funding falls short

Amy Olson

A lack of funding could put a kink in the University’s plans to establish a branch campus in Rochester.
At the close of the legislative session May 17, the University made off with only half of the $5.3 million requested for the campus, which is slated to open fall 2000. That means fewer professors can be hired than the 20 the original blueprint called for and fewer classes can be offered. Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester said the University will have to adjust its plans.
The University will still offer courses fall semester 2000, but might not be able to offer as many.
If the Legislature had appropriated the full request, it would have funded salaries for permanent faculty members and support staff in addition to bankrolling a badly needed new registration system, said Ann Hill Duin, vice provost for technology.
About one-third of the money will go toward academic programs; the rest will go toward funding research and institutional infrastructure, Duin said.
It might be premature to call it a full-fledged campus yet, Duin said, but University officials will do the best they can with existing funding.
Instead of having a traditional four-year liberal arts program, the University Rochester Center offers extension classes through a consortium of three schools, including Rochester Community and Technical College, Winona State University and the University of Minnesota.
By comparison, the branch campus will offer degrees in applied programs like respiratory therapy and computer networking, Duin said. The curriculum will focus on technology, health sciences and education to support Rochester’s medical- and technology-driven economy.
Rochester residents argue the campus will provide long-needed continuing education for employees at companies like IBM and the Mayo hospital and clinics, as well as those employees’ spouses.
But some legislators questioned the wisdom of establishing a new campus.
Minnesota already has one of the highest per capita numbers of college campuses nationwide, and statewide needs are already being met, said Joe Opatz, DFL-St. Cloud.
“We just closed Waseca,” said Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, referring to the University campus that was closed in 1992.
Even after the branch campus is open, the University Rochester Center will run classes.
Rochester Community and Technical College will continue to offer lower-division courses through the center while Winona State University will still provide its upper-division and graduate-level courses in subjects like nursing, business administration and education.