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U of M capital improvements to enhance research, education

Regents also to act on FY15 operating budget

June 6, 2014

Funding allocated to the University of Minnesota by the Minnesota Legislature — $119.4 million — will allow the U to advance world-class research that addresses the state’s most pressing challenges, fuels our economy and better prepares nearly 70,000 U of M students for a global marketplace.

The University’s Board of Regents will conduct a final review and act on these projects, part of the annual capital improvement budget, at its meetings Thursday and Friday, June 12-13.

Renovations to 87-year-old Tate Laboratory on the Twin Cities campus ($56 million) and the Crookston campus wellness center ($10 million) received full funding from the state. Partial funding for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) projects ($42.5 million), the Twin Cities-St. Paul campus aquatic invasive species and bee laboratories ($8.7 million) and a new chemical sciences and advanced materials building on the Duluth campus ($1.5 million) was also approved.

The capital improvement budget, which includes the projects listed above as well as additional University investments, will authorize $367.8 million to begin design or construction this year.

Tuition freeze, administrative savings, academic investments
The Board will also act on President Eric Kaler’s recommended FY15 operating budget that freezes tuition for Minnesota resident undergraduates for the second year in a row, commits to more than $20 million in administrative cost savings and invests more than $23 million in academic excellence.

These academic investments include: new faculty hires in critical fields, classroom and lab upgrades, instructional and student support and academic support improvements. In addition to the $23 million for these areas, the budget includes $15 million toward a merit-based compensation pool increase of 2.5 percent to retain and recruit world-class faculty and staff.

First presented to Regents in May, the proposed budget will be reviewed during the Board’s Finance Committee meeting Thursday, June 12. The Board will take final action June 13.

As part of ongoing efforts by the Board and administration, the Board will also apply the FY15 budget to a long-range financial planning analysis to ensure continued responsible use of the U’s limited resources.

Other agenda items include:

  • Neighborhood engagement. The Board will discuss the University’s engagement efforts for the vitality and safety of the neighborhoods surrounding the Minneapolis campus and consider a resolution outlining new approaches to that engagement. More than ever before, U students are living near campus and walk, bike or commute through adjacent neighborhoods to attend class, conduct research or participate in other on-campus activities. The U wants to ensure a vibrant, welcoming, safe and attractive environment in and around campus for all students, faculty and staff as well as visitors to campus. President Kaler called for this initiative in his State of the University address and assessing neighborhood development impacts on campus is part of the Board’s 2013-14 work plan.
  • Student housing trends. More housing options are available to students than ever before. New on-campus facilities are open on the Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Twin Cities campuses. Neighborhoods near the Twin Cities campus now have 14,000 housing units available or in the pipeline. This discussion will update on-campus housing systemwide, outline the U’s approach to on-campus housing — including its relationship to student retention and timely graduation — and review national trends that impact today’s on-campus living environments.
  • Maximizing physical assets. Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock will lead a conversation about projecting future needs for University facilities. The goal is to ensure decision-making emphasizes the right space, for the right use, in the right place. This is the third presentation in a yearlong series about the U’s physical assets.
  • Solving grand challenges. In an update on the strategic planning process, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson and members of the Strategic Planning teams will review progress to date and highlight next steps, including University wide listening sessions, group discussions and forums.
  • A student’s perspective. The Student Representatives to the Board will discuss debt loads and financial literacy efforts, including the award winning Live Like a Student campaign, what it means to be one U of M system and the University’s sexual assault response protocol.
  • Next year is here. With a new academic year beginning July 1, the Board will establish meeting dates for the 2014-15 year.

Committee meetings will begin 8 a.m. Thursday. The full Board will meet at 9 a.m. Friday. More information, including meeting times and locations, can be found at www.umn.edu/regents.

Twin Cities Campus: