Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Craziness Continues at

the University of Minnesota

(Only Slightly Scaled Back)

From the Daily:

University of Minnesota leaders presented the Board of Regents with a new, scaled-back plan for the University of Minnesota’s $292 million Biomedical Discovery District on Thursday.

Rather than housing cancer, cardiovascular and infectious disease research into three separate buildings as originally proposed, the plan would create a single, $200.3 million facility for all of them.

The plan would save $38.5 million, money that would be directed toward renovations of existing laboratory space.

“When this program was envisioned in 2008, none of us thought the world economy would turn as south as it did,” Pfutzenreuter said.


posted February 19, 2008

This is what our CFO had to say in 2008:

"This is an effort by the university to grab market share" of federal research dollars, Pfutzenreuter said.

And this is what I had to say in 2008:

"I [W. Gleason] am certainly not against the University obtaining funding from the State in support of its legitimate mission as a land grant institution. In fact we need every penny we can get to stabilize tuition and support the core of the university, including non-science areas that are also critical for our remaining a great university. This is a matter of priorities and also a matter of the soul of a university. It is not a Driven to Discover marketing campaign."

These proposed blank check biomedical science buildings have financial implications for the U that are not being examined carefully and honestly. Where is the money going to come from to pay for the new faculty? Set up funds are, crudely speaking, a million dollars per new faculty member. And the NIH funding situation right now is terrible. What is the basis for the estimates of NIH funding that will be gained from these buildings?

From an article in the Pioneer Press (also in 2008) that is no longer available:

Lawmakers need to ask more questions, said William Gleason, a professor in the U's medical school who blogs on campus issues and often challenges the U administration. He asks where will the money come from to hire faculty and buy equipment for the new buildings once built.

Two of the buildings would focus on magnetic resonance imaging and cancer research, but the U already has fairly new facilities in each of those areas, he added.

"Why shouldn't the buildings in this group be subjected to competition with buildings in other areas of science as well as nonscientific areas?" Gleason said.

"If they can be justified as good investments and we can fill them with new faculty without damaging the core of the rest of the university, then let's do it," Gleason said. "But writing a blank check given the current situation does not seem to make any sense."

It didn't make sense in 2008 and it makes even less sense now. And remember when we put these buildings up "we" are on the hook for a LOT of money.


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