Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A New Home on the Range for BigU ?

Now that the University of Minnesota, Rochester, has been such a stunning success, a state legislator wants to establish yet another U. (YAU)

The Daily reports:

April 4, 2007

Range campus possible

A state representative hopes to forge a graduate mining program on the Iron Range.

By Karlee Weinmann

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, wants to establish a postsecondary presence on northern Minnesota's Iron Range ... Rukavina said he wants to see greater use of the area's mining resources for programs focusing on graduate study in areas of mining, metallurgical engineering and bioenergy, among others.

"I want to utilize the resources we have up here," he said. "It's really about the wealth we have - natural resource-based wealth."

[Uh-huh, that's why Rudy Perpich, in the IRRB days of yesteryear, built a now defunct five million dollar chopstick factory on the Range (Hibbing) that went belly up.]

In a bill set for presentation this legislative session, Rukavina proposes a viability study to assess the demand of students and employers for higher education in the area, which extends from Grand Rapids to Ely. The study would require $300,000 in state funding, and completion is slated for Jan. 15 of next year. [Well at least initially that's less than the chopstick factory but you can be sure that it will grow, just like Topsy.]

Rukavina said plans for an Iron Range campus would follow a course similar to the University's Rochester campus. Ideally, there would be a centralized facility, as in Rochester, with others joining to ease on-site research.

[If the Republicans in Southern Minnesota can have their U, then I guess the Dems on the Range should get one too - fair is fair, you roll my log and I'll roll yours, nicht wahr ?]

"I envision the MnSCU system cooperating with the University of Minnesota and maybe even some other private higher education facilities," he said.

[I'll just bet that if the spigot can be turned on at the legislature, the administrators will all gather together at the river of money that runs through Morrill Hall and sing Kumbaya while the checks are cut.]

Already-established research programs would provide unparalleled research opportunities, Rukavina said. Current research in the region includes projects at the Tower-Soudan mine and the Duluth campus's Natural Resources Research Institute mineral analysis laboratory in Coleraine. The Soudan Underground Laboratory, housed in the mine, falls within the borders of Rukavina's congressional district. [What a coincidence..]

In 1980, physics professor Marvin Marshak began conducting physics experiments in the laboratory. Since then, the facility has become more comprehensive and renowned. Marshak said Rukavina has been a longtime supporter of his research initiatives, but he is unsure of the feasibility of Rukavina's plans.

[Whoops! How ungrateful of Professor M. Doesn't he know how this game is played ?]

"I think it is true that mining engineering programs in U.S. universities have been shutting down or downsizing," he said. "A lot of this has to do with a lack of student interest." The University's civil engineering department formerly contained a mineral engineering group which disbanded several years ago. Marshak attributed the program's demise to low enrollment stemming from heightened interest in emerging computer-based engineering fields.

[And as if that weren't enough, professor M issues the ultimate insult to former miners at home on the Range. As an aside, when Mr. B. worked at the pilot plant in the Mining - with real engineers - we didn't sit in our offices either.]

"Engineers today do computer stuff; they sit in nice offices," Marshak said. "Mining is messy and dirty and hard physical work even [sic] for the engineers." [Ouch, that hurt! Professor M speaks here like an elitist physics professor. Could this be?]

Marvelous Marvin is the new czar for undergraduate research at BigU - I’m sure he knows that with BigU’s limited resources, we don’t need yet another U. (YAU) If we don't need General College, we certainly don't need YAU.

An amazed Mr. Bonzo writes from BigU where the search for greatness on a shoestring becomes daily more bizarre and our few remaining M&Ms are being gobbled up by hungry administrators and politicians.

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