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Group photo of 11 McKnight Land-Grant Professors for 2007-09 in the Board of Regents room with President Bruininks, Regent Baraga, and Dean Dubrow.

The Board of Regents meeting opened March 9 with recognition of 11 junior faculty recipients of McKnight Land-Grant Professorships for 2007-09. They were congratulated by Chair Baraga, President Bruininks, and Dean Dubrow. Read more about the recipients.

From strategic positioning to strategic action

Board of Regents assesses institutional change now underway

By Gayla Marty

Brief, March 21, 2007

Strategic positioning updates led the agenda of every meeting when the Board of Regents convened March 8-9.

"You have moved from strategic positioning to strategic action," Regent Larson told President Bruininks at the meeting of the full board on Friday. "It's exciting."

Larson was responding to a comprehensive progress report by Bruininks on recommendations and reports delivered to the regents over the past two years. The report and discussion lasted nearly an hour.

"We are moving now into implementation," Bruininks told the board. "It's a complex and intentional undertaking, touching every aspect of our culture, statewide. We are changing the culture [as well as] the long-term trajectory of the U."

Bruininks took time to reset the University's strategic goal of becoming one of the top-three public research universities in the world. What we seek isn't rank but stature, he said, and a "sustained cultural commitment to excellence in everything we do."


See the report as part of the video stream of the Board of Regents March 9 meeting.

* McKnight Land-Grant Professors (00:03:15)
* Gifts (00:29:35)
* Strategic positioning update (00:38:00)
* Six-year capital improvement plan (01:33:20)
* Report of the committees (01:59:50)

The response from the regents was strong and positive. Regent Simmons said the great appeal has been the emphasis on both excellence and access.

"It's appropriate for the board to reflect on what you have accomplished," said Regent Frobenius. "It's significant...[and] it is critical to the U's success in this environment of scarce resources."

"What you've done is demonstrate that a huge organization is able to change," said Regent Metzen. "The U has the patience to stick with it....We're at a very important point here, and we have to keep the sense of urgency."

The President's report was followed by a recap of the six-year capital improvement plan and the financial capacity to support it.

Beginning on Thursday, the Audit Committee heard evidence from compliance officer Tom Schumacher that the U is not only a community with strong stewardship ethics but leading the way nationally in improvement.

The Educational Policy and Planning Committee heard an in-depth report from Twin Cities campus provost Tom Sullivan and vice provosts Craig Swan, Arlene Carney, and Gerald Rinehart on work to transform the undergraduate experience. While the focus was on the Twin Cities campus, efforts to expand undergraduate research is U-wide. Later, the regents lunched with students participating in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

The Facilities and Finance and Operations committees previewed the U-wide six-year capital improvement plan, which envisions renovation of classrooms and buildings "from places where people learn by hearing to places where they learn by doing" flexible enough to be modified from one purpose to another "within days rather than months or years."

The Faculty, Staff, and Student Affairs Committee heard its first update from Nancy "Rusty" BarcelÓ, the U's first vice president for equity and diversity, on her new office, approaches, and priorities.

"Diversity is about people, and equity is about how we treat people," BarcelÓ said. "We are developing a culture, preparing students, and creating a community of scholars."

The same committee also discussed results of the Twin Cities campus student-interest survey, conducted every five years since 1971, which provides a telling snapshot of the student body's changing habits--for example, a clear transition from reading newspapers to online news and from commuting to living on campus.

In a work session of the full board, senior vice president Frank Cerra described the strategic role of the clinical sciences within the University. Clinical science is where the research, education, and service missions converge, he said. He showed maps of the planned reconfiguration of hospitals and clinics that will put adult and ambulatory facilities on the east bank and children and moms, behavioral clinics, and post-acute care on the west bank.

Cerra also talked about changes in the decade since the U forged its partnership with Fairview and what both partners have learned.

"The difference between a large complex hospital and a teaching hospital is the difference between rocks and flowers," Cerra said. "This is the model that the future of health care depends upon. This public-private partnership is very well positioned to weather the storm."

Friday's meeting of the full board opened with recognition of 11 energetic junior faculty members selected for the 2007-09 McKnight Land-Grant Professorships, which include $30,000 and a research leave in the second year. The awards are designed to provide support for young faculty members who show exceptional promise, at a critical time in their careers.

U Foundation president Gerald Fischer reported giving for the first seven months of the 2006-07 fiscal year running 39 percent ahead of the same period in the previous year, with an unprecedented emphasis on scholarships.

"Donors love the aspirational, strategic goal," Fischer said. "They have confidence in the leadership."

For more information about the March meetings, see the docket materials and video and audio streams of the March 9 meeting (note that the video stream's audio begins about three minutes in). See also the 2006-07 schedule, with links to related materials.

Changing of the board

As it happened, an evening vote of the Minnesota State Legislature on March 8 produced a change on the board itself. Empty Friday morning were the seats of Peter Bell, Frank Berman, Cynthia Lesher, and Lakeesha Ransom.

The new regents--Maureen Cisneros, Linda Cohen, Venora Hung, and Dean Johnson--began their six-year terms immediately but won't meet with the full board until its next meetings, May 10-11. See a list of the board members, including those elected March 8.

RELATED READING U of M maintains current ranking among public research universities (March 20, 2007)

The core of who we are: Q&A about the revised code of conduct for faculty and staff (March 7, 2007) Ten years together: U of M, Fairview Health Services, and U Physicians continue partnership (March 8, 2007)

Healthy optimism: U's Academic Health Center aims to be premier destination for students, faculty, and patients (Feb. 7, 2007)