Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sobering News for BigU or,

Show Me the Money and Then We'll Talk Greatness...

Mr. B. has previously posted extensively on the disconnect between available resources and the "ambitious aspirations" of our administration to become "one of the top three public research univerties in the world [sic]."

See for example:

"Oh, Lord, It's Hard to Be Humble when you have ambitious aspirations"


"Can BigU Become Great Big U?"

Further evidence of reality problems at BigU is reported today in the Pioneer Press.

(I thank a colleague for bringing this article to my attention.)

University Of Minnesota / U lags in race for U.S. research money

Paul Tosto

University of Minnesota leaders have agonized for years about the competition for federal research money. On Friday, regents will see more evidence the U is slipping in that race.

Federal research spending by the university rose about 39 percent between 2000 and 2005, but the University of Michigan saw its funds rise 52 percent and the University of Wisconsin jumped 71 percent in the same period, data from the U's latest accountability report show.

Regents will review the reports Friday when they meet on the Morris campus for their regular meeting. They'll also meet that day with university president Robert Bruininks and research vice president Tim Mulcahy to discuss financing the university's future.

Mulcahy declined substantial comment but said when he talks to regents Friday, he'll summarize recent data that "suggests that we are beginning to close the gap."

[Dr. Mulcahy, OurLeader, and Provost Sullivan should fear the clock as did Captain Hook. The general trend is downward and from Mr. B.'s worms-eye view, nothing dramatic seems to have happened around here at BigU, in fact the bureaucracy seems to have gotten worse. As Oliver Twist would say: "Please, sir, more vice presidents?"]

The U gets funding from many state and private sources, but the federal government is a key source. For those worried about the U's place in the research race, the accountability report offers some sobering news:

while the U is still a major force in federal research spending, its funding from 2000 to 2005 grew more slowly than the 10 other institutions it considers its peers.

Federal nondefense research and development spending declined at the U between 2004 and 2006 after a decade of growth, a trend that will have a "profound impact" on the U's ability to grow its research operations, the report says.

Earlier this year, though, U economists concluded that Minnesota as a state had stumbled among states in the chase for academic RD money. That report, ominously titled "Long Gone Lake Wobegon?" argued that research spending in the 1970s helped fuel decades of state prosperity and that losing the money race to other states could create problems.

Had it kept pace with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for instance, the university's research funding would have topped $1 billion in 2004, twice the actual amount, the economists' report noted.

Eventually, the University community, the legislature, and the citizens of ColdState are going to have to have an honest dialog about the future of the university. The sooner, the better.



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