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University of Minnesota Board of Regents address campus safety, examine tuition and financial aid, and approve Ambulatory Care Center agreements

December 13, 2013

Robust discussions of public safety and the U’s tuition and financial aid philosophy, along with approvals of agreements for the Ambulatory Care Center and key real estate transactions, highlighted a busy two days for the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

The safety of students, faculty and staff is a top priority at the University and was discussed during an annual report to the Board from University Police Chief Greg Hestness, Vice President for University Services Pam Wheelock and U Services Chief of Staff Leslie Krueger. They outlined the U’s multipronged approach, which has included additional resources dedicated to policing that have led to 23 arrests in the last three months. The U is also exploring infrastructure enhancements (e.g. building access, lighting and safer pathways on and near campus; additional security cameras; engaging with student and other groups on awareness and education; expanding programs such as the Gopher Chauffeur; working closely with outside law enforcement agencies) that can be made to improve campus safety.

"The Board shares President Kaler’s and Vice President Wheelock’s strong commitment to public safety," said Board Chair Richard Beeson. "While recent crimes on or near the Twin Cities campus are very concerning, families need to know that we are unified in our commitment to providing a safe environment for students, faculty and staff. The University has built strong partnerships with local law enforcement and will continue those along with other work to make our University community safe."

"Not long ago, my two sons lived on and near their own college campuses," said University President Eric Kaler. "I share the worry of parents and students about safety. We will do all we can to continuously improve security and help our students engage in safe behaviors. Where campus ends our legal jurisdiction stops, but our shared responsibility with community partners remains – and our work to secure proper resources will continue."

Wheelock also highlighted transportation safety, including efforts to manage significant increases in bicycles on campus, buses returning to Washington Avenue and the 2014 addition of the Green Light Rail Line.

Ensuring access and excellence
Among the Board’s priorities for 2013-14 is to "develop a tuition and financial aid philosophy that reinforces the twin objectives of excellence and access, and directly guides the President’s related strategies." Today Regents took a first step with a work session discussing how undergraduate tuition, financial aid and enrollment strategies support student success.

"As the cost of higher education rises, it is now more important than ever that we are clear and transparent to students and families about the cost of a University of Minnesota education," Kaler said. "While our current undergraduate tuition strategies on tuition, financial aid and enrollment management are fundamentally designed to support student success, they also help us attract and retain a student body that is diverse in all ways: economically, and in terms of talent, geography, interests and backgrounds. It is important for the Board to understand the strengths and tradeoffs of various approaches and how our current approach achieves our goals."

Beeson agreed.

"Today’s work session was a robust discussion focused on tuition strategies that support the mission and goals of the University, as well as incent student success," Beeson said. "This is an important governance role of the Board that we look forward to continuing in coming months."

The administration will take feedback from today’s session and craft a resolution the Board of Regents will consider early in 2014.

Education, research and extraordinary patient care
The Board approved final agreements among the University, University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP) and Fairview Health Services for a new academic Ambulatory Care Center.

With agreements in place, crews will break ground Dec. 20 on the $160.5 million, 330,000-square foot facility at 909 Fulton St. SE, Minneapolis. The world-class facility, scheduled to open in January 2016, will provide new space for clinics currently housed in the Phillips Wangensteen Building and allow for much-needed expansion. Clinics and an outpatient surgery center will incorporate education and research for transformative team-based care, which will enhance the experience for patients and students.

The University will execute two 30-year leases and a parking facility agreement; guaranties with UMP and Fairview for payment of $150.5 million in special purpose bonds issued by the U and $12.2 million in capitalized interest; and a master agreement that establishes the overall framework for clinic management and operation.

Graduation rates increase
The Academic and Student Affairs Committee learned Thursday about the newest Twin Cities four-, five- and six- year graduation rates.  The four-year rate has now climbed to 59.1 percent, which is now within 1 percent of the Board’s goal of 60 percent.  The five-year rate has now hit the Board goal of 75 percent and the six-year rate has risen to 76 percent.  All rates have increased significantly from the mid-1990s, and represent a university-wide effort to promote timely graduation.

Public-private partnership
The Board approved University investment as minority partner in a joint venture with United Properties Investment, LLC to purchase property at 2407-2425 University Ave SE, Minneapolis. Adjacent to TCF Bank Stadium, the property currently houses the Days Inn Hotel and the Tea House Restaurant.

United Properties submitted a successful bid to purchase the property last summer. The joint venture will continue to operate the hotel with a hotel management company, and will assume landlord obligations for the restaurant, both of which will provide revenue to help cover real estate costs. The joint venture provides the University the opportunity to plan with United Properties the future redevelopment of the parcel.

"This property borders the Minneapolis campus, so it is critically important that any future use serves the University’s needs and mission," Kaler said. "This innovative and collaborative partnership with a strong local partner is in the long-term interest of the U."

The U will appoint two of five joint venture directors, who will oversee management and governance. The U will also maintain the right to veto certain key actions, and the agreements allow rights of first refusal if decisions to eventually sell the parcel occur.

The University’s $1.96 million investment, taken from the Real Estate Acquisition account for the Twin Cities campus, will acquire 49 percent of the new limited liability company. United Properties will be majority owner with an investment of $2.04 million. The purchase is expected by Jan. 8, 2014. The University will also lend the joint venture $8.75 million, to be repaid over 15 years.

Other Board action included:

  • UMR expansion: Regents approved acquisition of three properties totaling 0.62-acre in Rochester for future development and expansion of the Rochester campus. The City of Rochester will deduct the $1.32 million purchase price from sales tax proceeds dedicated to acquiring and improving UMR facilities.
  • Core Robotics Lab: The Board approved an amendment to the FY14 Capital Improvement Budget to allow $900,000 of MnDRIVE-allocated funds to construct a Core Robotics Lab in Nils Hasselmo Hall for the College of Science and Engineering. The project, which will enhance Minnesota’s strengths in robotics, sensors and manufacturing, includes 4,300 square feet of renovated space to replace outdated research areas in Walter Library, Keller Hall, Smith Hall and Mechanical Engineering.
  • New leadership: The Board approved the appointment of Dr. Brooks Jackson as the University’s new dean of the Medical School and vice president for Health Sciences.
  • Strategic plan update: The Board discussed draft vision, mission and core values statements developed by the Strategic Planning Workgroup. Once finalized, these elements will inform key objectives and strategies.
  • Regents Professors: Regents and President Kaler formally recognized Timothy P. Lodge and Stephen Polasky, who in June were named Regents Professors – the highest recognition of faculty the University provides.

Twin Cities Campus: