… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Friday, December 14, 2007
Or, Don't Break Your Arm
Trying to Pat Yourself On the Back
The University of Minnesota's so-called News Service has another press release:
U of M Narrows research funding gap, Regents hear
Contacts: Daniel Wolter, University News Service
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL ( 12/14/2007 ) -- The University of Minnesota won $595 million in research expenditures and awards in 2006, the Board of Regents learned on Friday. Up from $548 million in 2005, the 8.4 percent increase represents the second highest growth rate among top public universities.
The increase in research expenditures and awards moves the university from tenth to ninth among public universities, ending a stretch of several years where its growth rate lagged behind its competitors.
"Obviously, one win doesn't create a winning streak, but it definitely can break a losing streak," said Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy. "This certainly gives us reason for optimism that our strategic positioning efforts are paying off. There's a lot more work to be done to close the gap, but we're standing on better footing."
Mulcahy also noted that the gap between the university's research funding level and its goal of being in the top three fell from $237 million in 2005 to $205 million in 2006.
Also note the following table. It illustrates progress over the last eight years by the U of M and some of our competition. The interested reader will note that two public institutions, Ohio State and Florida, are cleaning our clock. These are folks we will have to elbow aside in our dash toward third place. It is also noteworthy that Berkeley, Michigan, and Illinois are behind us by this supposed index of quality. Might this mean that there could be problems with this metric? Or that some institutions have had good stable funding for ten years? Or could the size of the faculty have something to do with it? One of our department chairs in the med school stated that: "75% of the ability to get funding depends on the size of the faculty." All of these are potential contributors to a complex issue.
But I guess the folks in Morrill Hall are getting desperate for something to show, because most of their own data on various indices of quality show us to be near the bottom vis-a-vis our competitors.
In two years will we be halfway toward our "ambitious aspiration of being one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic] ?" Not at this rate. So let's decide what it is going to take to be in the top half of the BigTen. That is perhaps a realistic goal. Be honest with the people of the state and ask them to help us with the support to achieve this goal. I don't think it is likely that citizens of Minnesota are particularly interested in the administration's top three goal. And as the state's economy heads South, they are going to be even less interested.
|Institution||R&D Expenditures2006/1999 (NSF)|
(in millions of dollars)
|Ohio State||652/322||102 %|
One swallow does not a summer make, nor does one fine day.