Thursday, April 1, 2010

The President of the University of Minnesota

Yields to Pressure to Reschedule?

From Unfit to Print (University of Minnesota Daily)

How can the University and Met Council compromise on the light rail Central Corridor? What further budget strategies are on the table to reduce University expenditures? How is the University building relationships in St. Paul to stem the decline in state support?

With many questions, students, staff and faculty at the University of Minnesota were looking forward to President Bob Bruininks' State of the University Address, today. But the address was canceled Wednesday, after the President developed a case of laryngitis.

"I saw [President Bruininks] on Tuesday, and he sounded pretty bad," Minnesota Student Association President Paul Strain told us today. The Minnesota Daily Editorial Board wishes the President a solid, speedy recovery.

In a campus-wide email, President Bruininks informed the University that because of his inability "to speak audibly for extended periods of time," the State of the University Address would be canceled. But what started out as the legitimate communication of an unexpected change of plans soon started to seem like one of Rahm Emanuel's opportunities in crisis. The email continued, "Since the spring semester ends next month, the speech will not be rescheduled." Zing.

Technically, he's right: the semester ends next month, though finals go well into May. But, the vast majority of the University community who will return to lesser-paid work or more expensive class this summer and fall deserve an opportunity to ask the president direct questions and get direct answers. For the University, hard economic times are starting to take a toll. A refreshed vision for the future of the University of Minnesota is in order.

Asked why the State of the University was not going to be rescheduled, Lynn Holleran at the Office of the President indicated that there wasn't enough time to put another forum together, considering coordinate campuses, time and room reservations. "A lot goes into organizing the address," Holleran explained.

No one can fault President Bruininks for illness; surely his hard work and the stress of his office have contributed to the laryngitis. The State of the University Address, though, is far too important an opportunity and forum to be canceled without reschedule. Surely a one-way line of communication, such as the email currently intended to replace the speech proper, could not suffice.

Holleran explained that an alternative is in the works, but indicated that details have not yet been organized. Asked if it would be an open, public forum, she said it would "certainly" be "something that will allow staff, faculty and students to be engaged." Well, good. Let us hope engaged together, united under a realistic and refreshed vision for the University of Minnesota.

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