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Column: University of Minnesota system impacts state’s economy, culture, prosperity

By Chancellor Michelle Behr (Morris), Chancellor Lynn Black (Duluth), Chancellor Barbara Keinath (Crookston), Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle (Rochester) and President Eric Kaler...

By Chancellor Michelle Behr (Morris), Chancellor Lynn Black (Duluth), Chancellor Barbara Keinath (Crookston), Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle (Rochester) and President Eric Kaler

 

The excellence, impact and affordability of the University of Minnesota’s five campuses are at stake. The current higher education funding levels proposed by the Minnesota Legislature are simply not sufficient, and our campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and the Twin Cities are facing serious cuts.

 

With the current proposal by the Legislature, the unfortunate reality is this: To sustain research, outreach and education on our campuses, we will likely need to raise tuition costs.

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The U’s five distinct campuses add up to one extraordinary system. Together, we serve more than 65,000 students and the needs of communities in every corner of the state.  For example:

 

  • The University of Minnesota Crookston leverages its area’s strong farming community to prepare tomorrow’s leaders in agriculture and natural resources. Our innovative educational offerings meet the needs of Minnesotans across the state. Online learners in business and other programs are more than 50 percent of our enrollment.

 

  • The University of Minnesota Duluth - on the shores of Lake Superior - has an impact that reaches not only the Northland but across the entire state. Our strong research within the Natural Resources Research Institute helps the state harness the power of our natural resources and develop sustainable and efficient industries.

 

  • The University of Minnesota Morris offers students the rich and deep experience of a private residential liberal arts college at a public school price. We educate students to think critically, dig into and analyze a wide range of issues and tackle challenges with ingenuity and creativity - skills that are necessary to successful participation in the 21st century workforce.
  • The University of Minnesota Rochester offers world-class, hands-on educational experiences within the health sciences. We partner with Rochester’s internationally-renowned biomedical and technology enterprises to advance healthcare across the region and state.
  • And the University’s Twin Cities campus -older than the State of Minnesota itself-is one of only five in the U.S. with law, medicine, agricultural, engineering, veterinary and business schools congregated on one campus. Our interdisciplinary advantage propels breakthrough discoveries, including the heart pacemaker, retractable seat belts, Ziagen (one of the most effective AIDS drugs) and Honeycrisp apples, to name a few.   

 
Our shared missions are in jeopardy because of the funding levels now being proposed by the Minnesota House and Senate. Our affordable excellence is in danger, and so are research and outreach programs that affect all 87 of our counties. That means the state’s economy,  vitality and workforce of today and tomorrow are also at risk.

The University’s economic success is inextricably tied to the prosperity of the state. That’s why we urge communities across Minnesota to call upon the Legislature to not shortchange Minnesota’s students and their families. We must have the partnership of the State of Minnesota to continue our critically important work for our state’s future.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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