… 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.”
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Mr. Bonzo has earlier commented on the strange (to him) omission of the Carlson School at BigU from this list.
From the Fortune website:
Correction: Top 50 Business Schools
February 27 2007: 2:28 PM EST
Last week, CNNMoney.com published "Top 50 Business Schools for Getting Hired."
The data for the list was provided by an outside vendor, Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Upon our publication of the feature, we were alerted to potential flaws in the provided data and the data survey methodology.
These flaws in methodology may have resulted in University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School and Boston University being omitted from the list.
CNNMoney.com regrets the error, and apologizes to its readers and the business schools involved. The list has been removed from the site.
You can't lose them all... Mr. B.
There is an odd power struggle going on over at the the legislature over appointments to the Board of Regents at BigU. The situation is described in today's Daily:
Eleven candidates chosen by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council in January were interviewed by the committee in hopes of securing one of the open positions.
Among these candidates were the four chosen by Governor Pawlenty in the new route to appointing regents. Prior to this year, the RCAC's recommendations went straight to the Legislature.
But now, many members of both the House and Senate are uncomfortable with the Governor's new influence.
"I never supported the change," said Tom Rukavina, DFL Virginia, "Why give authority to the governor that's not explicit in the constitution?"
There are also signs that tuition is finally going to be a front-burner issue this year.
"Tuition is the number one issue," said former Sentate DFL Majority Leader Dean Johnson. "It must be both competitive and accessible."
"Being a regent is one of the highest honors a citizen has," said Peter Bell who is seeking re-appointment to the board.
Bell said his goals include, increasing the number of federal research grants, community outreach, improving graduate rates [sic] and managing tuition hikes.
Mr B. looks forward to continuing conversations, to use currently popular administrative crapspeak, at the legislature. But he does not look forward to another predicted huge snowfall in ColdState.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
An article about the stem cell business at BigU has appeared in the New York Times.
Monday, February 26, 2007
From today’s Star-Tribune:
Editorial: Pay attention to college grad rate
New report shows middling Minnesota performance.
Published: February 26, 2007
Four years after enrollment, fewer than one in four students at Minnesota's four-year state colleges and universities have a B.A. in hand. That's well behind the national average. (Minnesota's private colleges, by comparison, produce impressive graduation numbers.)
Those are among the sobering facts about Minnesota higher education tabulated and released last week by the state Office of Higher Education. Entitled "Minnesota Measures" and available at www.ohe.state.mn.us, it's intended to be the first of a regularly issued compendium of indicators of higher education performance.
Higher education's rising cost is clearly related to the enrollment trends. "Minnesota Measures" documents that even among families eligible for state financial aid, this decade has produced a sharp increase in the share of family income consumed by college costs.
Before BigU embarks on a march toward greatness, Mr. Bonzo suggests that two things need to be done. First, do a better job of educating students, this will be reflected by much improved graduation rates. Second, get tuition costs under better control. These two things are related.
Mr. Bonzo, perhaps stupidly, believes that these things might happen with appropriate input from the ColdState legislature.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Mr. Bonzo is puzzled. An article appeared recently in the Daily that reported on the research activities of the good folks in the Carlson School.
February 23, 2007
Carlson publishes most journal pieces
he expertise of some scholars at the Carlson School of Management puts them ahead of the game.
The Department of Information and Decision Sciences grabbed the top-ranking spot in number of pages published in popular management information systems journals, a recent study showed.
This ranking has only added to the school's existing high status.At about the same time a list from Fortune magazine appeared on CNN:
50 Best B-Schools for Getting Hired 2007
Top MBA programs with the strongest career placement and reputation with recruiters.
If the BigU's B school has such existing high status, why does the Fortune list not contain the Carlson school? This does not compute, Bonzo circuits blown, going down, down.. Please hit reset button.
Ahhh, thank you. Perhaps the Carlson School did not submit appropriate data and thus is not listed? Bonzo wonders.
ps: The Bonzo snowblower BlueBabe fired up again, as always a pleasant surprise. ColdState has been hit by a fair amount of snow. Mr. B. would guess 8-10 inches at SmallHouse. A trip to have dinner with TP was cancelled last night because of the ugly weather. So the Bonzos had to watch Elmer Gantry on public tv. Great movie. It is unfortunately snowing a little more right now. Mr. B. hopes that BlueBabe is at rest for the day.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Mr. B. has mentioned this illustrious politician once before.
Her latest whacko antics are outlined in the Strib today:
Bachmann backs down from Iraq comments
By Eric Black, Star Tribune
Last update: February 24, 2007 – 12:51 AMU.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed two weeks ago to know of an Iranian plan for the partition of Iraq in which Iran would control half the country and set it up as "a terrorist safe haven zone" and a staging area for attacks around the Middle East and on the United States.
But on Friday, after her claim was highlighted on the Star Tribune's Big Question weblog, Bachmann issued a new statement asserting her earlier comments had been "misconstrued." The second statement in effect retracted the first in several important respects.
University of Minnesota political scientist Kathryn Pearson, who specializes in Congress, said Bachmann's original statement was "extremely irresponsible."Members of Congress are privy to intelligence that the rest of the public isn't. So when a member of Congress says something of such significance, the first assumption is that she knows something that the public doesn't. So on that basis, people are going to take it seriously.
"Either this is top secret information that she's leaking, which is a problem. Or she's presenting her thoughts on a very serious topic as if they were established fact, and that's a problem for other reasons," Pearson said.
Washington University Prof. Steve Smith, another Congress watcher who lives in the Sixth District, said Bachmann's first statement "was a pretty strong claim to make. If she can't back it up she should be held accountable."
Smith speculated the original statement was drawn from some ideas circulating in "the neoconservative network in which she circulates."
Maybe Ms. Bachmann should keep her mouth shut and her ears open for a little while?
Expecting more irrationality soon, I remain your servant,
Normally on Friday night, Mr. Bonzo likes to collapse at home after a hard week in the trenches of BigU. In the old days he used to go to the BigTen for a few (at least) beers after work, but those days are gone forever...
Occasionally Mrs. Bonzo manages to raise Himself from his lethargy to do something. Last night Herself managed to snag front row tickets for a concert by the SPCO which is a wonderful small orchestra that plays in smaller GemCity. Pinky Zuckerman, Dennis Russell Davies, and Bobby McFerrin [sic] among other luminaries have conducted the SPCO. Perhaps surprisingly they have a huge fan base for their cds in Japan and do a lot of touring around the world. They have gone over to some weird system of artistic directors rather than conductors. One of these is Josh Bell and last night it was announced that Dawn Upshaw would be a director next year. The individual orchestra players are outstanding.
Mr. B. likes seats close to the orchestra, although (because?) they are usually considered bad seats and thus are less expensive, another feature of interest to impoverished academics. Last year Mrs. B. snagged some tickets to hear Hilary Hahn an outstanding young violinist and we were about ten feet away. This was one of the best concerts Mr. B. has ever heard. The program she performed is available on cd from Amazon. (Brahms and Stravinsky violin concertos)
So what was interesting last night was that this small orchestra played Mahler's "Das Lied von Der Erde." You know the lush, heavily orchestrated, piece ? And the arrangement was by none other than Schoenberg (yes the twelve tone guy). It was a very unusual but effective performance. The soprano and tenor were both outstanding. The first part of the concert was an early Schoenberg piece that was not twelve tone and although it was a little jarring it still sounded wonderful to Mr. B.
We know, we know, Mr. B. is not a music critic. What was the concert like from the standpoint of someone who knows something about music? Michael Anthony writes for the newspaper in the other GemCity, and is a pretty critical guy. He's written a review ("SPCO's not-so-big Mahler delicate, lovely") in today's Strib.
Back to earth: It is snowing. A blizzard is being predicted. It is cold again. Mr. B. has to go off to work. It is graduate student recruiting week-end. ChemistryGS wannabes are in town and we are supposed to make them want to come to BigU. I hope they like music...
ps: Fortunately, the student Mr. B. talked to was from St. Cloud, which is an hour's drive from BigU. She's used to the weather, thankfully.
Friday, February 23, 2007
From the Pioneer-Press (Gem Cities other good newspaper)
1973 law on human research in question
by Jeremy Olson
A lawmaker used a House committee hearing on embryonic stem cell research funding Thursday to challenge a University of Minnesota scientist on whether her work violates state law.
Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids, said a 1973 state statute on human research appears to make embryonic research by the U's Meri Firpo illegal.
"I think in this particular case the experiments Mrs. Firpo is doing are a gross misdemeanor," he said.
Firpo responded that she has been assured by U leaders that embryonic stem cell research is permitted under that statute, and a research analyst for the higher education and work force development committee said the statute applies to a relatively narrow definition of human life.Mr. Bonzo is very concerned about the way this is going...
Thursday, February 22, 2007
As mentioned earlier in the PT, stem cell research is a hot topic and is done at The Stem Cell Institute at BigU - see label "stem cells" at left for earlier post.
An article appeared in the New Scientist recently (February 15) that indicated trouble in River City. This was pointed out to me by a colleague but I have not gotten a chance to report on it in detail. The newshounds at the Strib have beaten me to the punch and their article has just appeared:
Stem Cell Study Was Flawed, U Panel Finds
By Maura Lerner and Josephine Marcotty, Star Tribune
Last update: February 22, 2007 – 9:33 PM
Five years ago, a groundbreaking University of Minnesota study found that a type of adult stem cell in mice could have as much potential to treat disease as those taken from embryos. The research made headlines around the world.
But now both the university and the lead scientist, Dr. Catherine Verfaillie, acknowledge that part of the study was flawed.
The university took the unusual step of conducting an inquiry into the 2002 study last summer after questions were raised by a British magazine, New Scientist, about some of the published data. The magazine disclosed the incident in an article published last week.
An expert panel convened by the university concluded that a process used to identify the cells was "significantly flawed, and that the interpretations based on these data, expressed in the manuscript, are potentially incorrect."Political ramifications
Verfaillie's research was heralded by social conservatives who have pinned their hopes on adult stem cells as an alternative to using embryonic cells, which they oppose on moral grounds.
At the same time, Verfaillie's work had cemented the reputation of the University of Minnesota as a major force in the world of stem cell research.
Verfaillie, 49, ran the university's stem cell institute from 1999-2006 and now heads stem cell research at Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, while remaining on the University of Minnesota faculty.
"We believe we did everything appropriately," said Tim Mulcahy, vice president of research at the university, who oversaw the inquiry. "From our perspective, this is now an issue for the scientific community."
Verfaillie said she requested the inquiry as soon as problems were brought to her attention.
Answering questions by e-mail, she wrote: "I knew that this was an 'honest mistake,' but that given the profile of the paper, of my work, and the political climate, that it could be construed otherwise."
How it began
About a year ago, Peter Aldhous, the San Francisco bureau chief of New Scientist magazine, decided to take a closer look at Verfaillie's work. At the time, he was writing about problems plaguing stem cell research.
Aldhous said he was intrigued with Verfaillie's 2002 study, which appeared in the journal Nature, because "it was a remarkable and exciting finding."
He said he wondered why no one else had been able to show, as she did, that a stem cell from the bone marrow of adult mice could turn into a wide range of other tissues, such as brain and muscle cells.
Aldhous and a colleague started combing through Verfaillie's published studies. And, he said, they found that she had published some of the same data twice, labeled differently, in two journals, including the Nature article.
"I wrote to Catherine saying that we'd noticed these duplications and asking if she was able to explain them," Aldhous said in a telephone interview.
Surprised, Verfaillie said she promptly notified the university. "I pride myself on careful presentation of data and was disappointed at myself," she wrote in her e-mail to the Star Tribune.
Mulcahy said that Verfaillie's prominence and the political sensitivity of the research made it prudent for the university to take a hard look at the questions raised by the New Scientist reporters.
Normally, the university would use its own academic staff for such a review. But this time two of the three members of the panel were from outside the university, he said. They concluded that the data had been duplicated, but that it was most likely an honest error.
Verfaillie notified both journals of the errors.
Editors at Nature said they are reviewing the studies and declined to comment further.
The second journal, Experimental Hematology, notified her Thursday that it plans to print her correction in June. "I don't see this as a major problem," said journal editor Esmail Zanjani.Disclaimer:
I have not reprinted the whole article, please see the Strib link above. I have simply tried to give an impression of the situation.
I know Dr. Verfaillie slightly and believe that she is a good person. I understand she bakes a mean quiche. If she says it was an "honest mistake," then I believe her. High stakes research, like high stakes poker, is intensely competitive. Under pressure, people make mistakes. This is partly a fault of our insane system for funding science nowadays. [End of sermon]
A Shameless Plug
Mrs. Bonzo has written, in collaboration with Caroline Swash, a book on Stained & Art Glass. More information about the book may be found on Amazon, where it is available for a pretty reasonable price considering the number of beautiful color illustrations. (To say nothing of the fabulous, unattributed, back of jacket portrait of Mrs. B. taken by Mr. B.)
From the only review so far on Amazon:
If you have any interest in the beauty of glass, you should have this book. With over 800 images in full color, this richly illustrated volume could be savored only as a visual experience, while at the same time it has been written with intelligence, style and grace for anyone with an interest in glass. That includes the casual browser of art books (like me) and also, I believe, professional scholars and serious collectors. As beautifully produced as any coffee table book, it also is an engaging and important study of a largely neglected aesthetic medium.
Another good review has appeared on the website of the Contemporary Glass Society:
The subject matter – stained and art glass – is also surprising. There are plenty of books on each individually but I know of no significant other that juxtaposes both. Each discipline has its own traditions and has often developed separately with barely a nod toward the other. In some respects this is really two books but that is its beauty. The book is priced so sensibly that even the most narrow-minded supporter of one school will find the book represents excellent value. Perhaps the best thing is that afficionados of studio or stained glass can easily read about the other. This can only help to remove barriers between the different schools. There are also substantial sections on architectural glass throughout the world, surely a major future area of evolution. If like me, your glass passions are catholic, the book is almost too good to be true.
A proud Mr. Bonzo signs off.
Bonzos in Bluest State
Last weeks’s trip to Bluest State was a combination of business and not-business. Mr. B. went first to LA for a medical devices conference where he was asked to say a few words about biomaterials, something he knows about. The meeting was in the Anaheim Convention Center about 15 minutes walk from Mr. B.’s temporary residence directly across from the main gate to Disneyland. (How fitting)
Everything went pretty well since Mr. B. had worked with the other presenters in the past and the topics make a nice package. The only thing a little intimidating was the ten lane streets (five on each side) that needed to be crossed occasionally. Mr. B., being basically a small town guy, was intimidated.
But the WEATHER! Mr. B. used to try to get away at least once a winter from the pretty oppressive cold and darkness of ColdState. Lately that’s not been possible, but this expedition is a good reminder to do it annually. From -15 F overnight to 50++ in a day is quite a pleasant shock. Later in the week, Mr. B. joined Mrs. B. in The City for Valentine’s Day – how romantic – hosted by AlexB and MdeTirtoff. The next day was a Bonzo art crawl to the deYoung which was most impressive. That evening AlexB and MdeTirtoff made dinner for all of us in the deTirtoff loft. Mr. B. always thinks of lofts as places where starving artists live, but this was a very elegant and tastefully decorated place that was still quite comfortable.
Next day was the Asian.
There was a quite good exhibit of Japanese bamboo artistry complete with a national treasure quality bamboo artist from Japan who demonstrated his craft and answered questions from the audience via an excellent translator. On the upper floors non-flash pictures are allowed and Mr. B. went nuts with the digital camera. The quality of the ceramics – a particular Bonzo interest – is spectacular.
That evening the Bonzo’s went to John’s Grill for dinner. The loss of the bird, the Maltese Falcon, did not seem to have slowed things down. (Mr. B. was amused to learn in a recent New Yorker that some HP hotshot had just named his new yacht, The Maltese Falcon.) Mr. B. had the Sam Spade special: grilled lamb chops, fresh tomatoes, and baked potato. Mrs. B. had cioppino and AlexB, sea bass. MdeTirtoff was not able to attend because she was slaving away at work. But she did join us for a San Francisco Orchestra concert that was excellent and ended up with an Astor Piazolla piece, complete with virtuoso bandoneon player.
We then went out for a drink or two as well as some food since MdeTirtoff had not eaten yet. Unfortunately, she was already starting to feel a little shaky and, as we learned next day, became quite ill. She works too hard. It is bad for your immune system to work that hard.
Next day, after confirmation that MdeTirtoff was in no condition to go along, we set off for Chinatown. It was a spectacular day in the low 70s. Since it was the day before the start of Chinese New Year, there were plenty of fireworks and sometimes you could look down a street and see nothing but smoke. There was a pilgrimage to the antiques part of town for Mrs. Bonzo as well as book stores including Ferlinghetti’s (in)famous City Lights.
Back to Chinatown for light lunch at AlexB’s new favorite Chinese Restaurant and then a fairly long walk back to the Rex, the Bonzo’s favorite place to stay in the City.
That evening we went to a pretty good production of Hedda Gabler at the ACT. Staging and acting were excellent although the way Hedda was played seemed a little eccentric. Unfortunately, Mr. B. has seen this play, done very well, at the Guthrie recently starring his favorite actress, Laila Robbins. If you know the ending of the play, it seems spoiled because you know what is going to happen and you can see it coming. The first time you see the play, the end is pretty shocking. [Mrs. B. comments that you know what is going to happen in most Shakespeare plays and that doesn't seem to dampen enthusiasm. And she's right, Bonzo knows how Lear ends but wouldn't miss any reasonable production.]
The next day the Bonzo’s had to get up very early and go back to ColdState after a wonderful time.
Postscript: Lest you feel too envious. Mrs. B. made an uneventful trip directly home. Mr. B. had to go to LA and then home. Both his flights were late. His luggage was lost and as of today (Thursday) he still does not have his stuff. Also, there was an inadvertent switch of computers at the LA airport security. Mr. B. had the bad fortune to pick up a laptop identical to his own on the other side of the scanner as did someone else on her way from Australia to Toronto. Negotiations are under way to swap laptops via international post.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Mr. B. is back from the City with a vengeance.
More to come about the Bluest State visit.
If you are unlucky you may find something even more inane as the questions seem to vary randomly at login. Never fear, though, as even more pressing questions may be found on the U's web page, such as:
Is a man/woman's approach to sex based on evolution?
— See what happens when a male and female actor are sent to a London university campus with hidden cameras to ask a simple question: "Will you sleep with me?"
Feb. 22, 7 p.m., Bell Museum
Now there's a Driven to Discover question.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Disaster in the City
News Flash, just in time for the Bonzos' visit:
Somebody stole the Maltese Falcon!
AlexB sends the link.
Mr. and Mrs. B. are scheduled to have dinner tomorrow at John's Grill where the sacred bird was enshrined. Ah, the stuff that dreams are made of..
Dash would love it.
More next week.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Wherein OurLeader Shows the First Hint of Feeling the Student's Pain
Mr Bonzo generally approves of Lori Sturdevant who is thoughtful and does her homework vis-a-vis ColdState politics. She seems a little too trusting of BigU's administration, but it is a very difficult situation to interpret and she has Mr. B.'s sympathy in trying to figure out who is on first. Mr. B. was pleasantly surprised that OurLeader is starting to realize that students should not be the ones paying for the transformation of BigU into GreatBigU.
Last update: February 11, 2007 – 12:22 AM
Columnist: The courage to do what needs to be done?
By Lori Sturdevant, Star Tribune
At 85 members strong (out of a possible 134), the new Minnesota House DFL majority is big. It remains to be seen whether it's brave.
"Fiscal prudence" (read no tax increase) has been the new majority's official watchword, so far. But plenty of nudges in a bolder direction have been coming at them in the three weeks since Gov. Tim Pawlenty released his skinny "no-new-taxes" budget proposal for 2008-09.
State Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, asked a good question. If the university needs more than the Republican governor proposes to allocate, "Where would you like us to get the money?"
[Ms. Hortman appears to be a sharp cookie and has previously appeared in the Periodic Table.]
Bruininks cleared his throat, carefully allowed that he was about to venture his own opinion rather than an officially sanctioned view, and said: "If it means, long term, that we have to put more and more of the cost of higher education on the backs of students, if it means long term that we've got to experience this kind of [financial] roller-coaster ride we've had for the past four years, you can raise my taxes."
There! He said it! And this is a very difficult thing for someone to say in the current political environment and in this state. Remember what happened to Walter Mondale when he proposed new taxes? Immediately such a statement conjures up all the old sound bites: "No new taxes!" "Tax and spend liberals !" etc., etc. ad nauseum.
It should also be noted that Mr. Pawlenty is jockeying for a vice-presidential [sic] slot on the Republican ticket and would make the perfect second banana. Young (relatively), attractive and a good family man complete with a "no new taxes" escutcheon that he hopes to keep unblemished.
You can't lose them all - Mr. B.
(Or We've All Got a Lot of Work to Do)
Don Samuels, a Minneapolis city council member, in a fit of eminently justifiable pique, said that he thought North High should be burned down because of the terrible job of education being done there. North High is a predominantly black school. Don had a counterpoint article in the Strib this morning.
Don Samuels: Minneapolis schools can do much better
Don SamuelsMuch has been written about my metaphorical reference to burning down North High School. I again apologize for my error of passion. I meant no offense to the proud students, staff, alumni and community members. Having visited many Minneapolis schools, I have met many dedicated staff. We owe it to our children to work together to make our system effective.
The reality is, year after frightening year, more than 70 of every 100 black boys entering our public high schools fail to graduate. Many of these young men make up the more than 44 percent of African-American men in the Hennepin County criminal justice system. By age 32, offenders are six times more likely to become parents than ordinary citizens. Their children are much more likely to become offenders themselves. The math is frightening.
The math is also confusing. We need more accurate reporting. For example, although the Minnesota Department of Education reports that 82 percent of black students graduated from North in 2005 (based on federally established guidelines), that doesn't tell the whole story. For example, while 229 black students entered the ninth grade in 2001, only 69 black students actually graduated in 2005 (this number of graduates includes some of the original 229 students who entered North in the ninth grade and others who transferred in). This is a far cry from 82 percent.
In addition, far too many students of all races are entering college underprepared. When they enter our public universities they lack the basics. In the 2002-03 school year, the following percentages of students from these seven schools took remedial courses in reading, writing or math when they entered public college: South, 37%; Southwest, 41%; Henry, 48%; Washburn, 53%; Edison, 57%, North, 59%, and Roosevelt, 70%.The future of our children, our public safety and our region's economic development are all on the line. I propose the following:
• Bring directors of our nation's most effective public and charter schools to Minneapolis to share their lessons.
• Ask foundations and the Legislature to help Minneapolis schools -- district and charter -- replicate them.
• Establish an independent, multiracial, nonpartisan group to assess and monitor progress.
In the last few days, groups as diverse as Black Women in Higher Education, Urban League, Latino Communications Network, Somali Action Alliance, Black Alliance for Educational Options, PEACE Foundation, African American Men Project, Sub Zero Collective, and Center for School Change at the Humphrey Institute have agreed to help bring outstanding educators to Minneapolis this spring. We invite the Minneapolis school board, the city, the teachers union, the Star Tribune, charters, churches and other community groups to join this effort.
The compassionate part of me apologizes to everyone who felt wounded by my words. And there is an irrational part of me that shouts the question, "Why aren't more people pushed beyond the boundaries of politeness and rational discourse -- shouldn't this make us all crazy?"
Don Samuels is a member of the Minneapolis City Council.
We have a stake at BigU as well as in our role of taxpayers and citizens in this situation. Complaining about the graduation rates of minority students at BigU is not going to cure the fundamental problems that exist at a lower level in our public education system. Yes, Don, it should make us all crazy...
Friday, February 9, 2007
From Inside Higher Ed
Missouri lawmakers cut $113 million in university building projects from a $335 million higher education bill Wednesday, as The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported. Their reason? As the Post-Dispatch puts it, “The committee chairman, Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, said the projects that had been cut had been identified as possibly housing stem cell research in the future.”
Ouch - scene set...
..one might expect that administrators would be jumping for joy in Minnesota, where a House committee met Wednesday to debate a bill explicitly affirming the ability of the University of Minnesota to spend state-appropriated funds on stem cell research.
Yet, administrators’ lukewarm, “no official position” response perhaps reflects a larger trend for many public universities to insulate themselves, as much as possible, from the political debate.
“My thought is that they need kind of an affirmative statement from the state that this is an appropriate thing to do,” says State Rep. Phyllis Kahn
[Mr Bonzo bows to Representative Kahn’s scientific chops. She has a PhD in biophysics from Yale and her opinions on such matters should be treated with the utmost respect.]
The university’s conservative policy regarding state funds simply reflects its existence within a mixed political climate regarding stem cell research, Wagner [a professor of pediatrics and director of clinical research for the Stem Cell Institute] says — more mixed than in other states like Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and, of course, California, that have more actively pursued the research. “Here we had the forethought of creating a stem cell institute but in an environment that didn’t support it,” he says.
Mr. Bonzo is not usually very sympathetic to BigU’s administration, but in this case he almost feels sorry for them.... Stem cell research is apparently going to be one of those areas that one has to be doing in order to be TrulyGreat. However will we achieve our ambitious aspirations?
Signing out, Mr. B, who will be leaving next Monday to go to Bluest State to talk in Anaheim about biomaterials and perhaps catch a few mice. Mr. and Mrs. Bonzo will also be visiting AlexBonzo in the City by the Bay. the SF orchestra and Hedda Gabler are on tap, possibly lamb chops at John's Grill, so postings likely will be sparse.
ps. (February 10, 2007) This just in from the StarTribune:
Editorial: State should endorse funding of cell studies
U of M's embryonic research is both important and ethical.
Published: February 10, 2007
[There seems to be a pipeline from Morrill Hall (BigU admin office building) to the Strib editorial offices lately...]
Thursday, February 8, 2007
The Game of Chicken Continues at the State Capitol
University of Minnesota President Bruininks says tuitions likely to creep upward
Thursday, 08 February 2007
by T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter
Sticking to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposed University of Minnesota budget means student tuitions could creep up even higher than currently proposed, U of M President Robert Bruininks told lawmakers this week.
Indeed, it’s “near certain” tuitions would need to be hiked above the 4.5 percent annual increase — about $350 — currently proposed by the University, he explained.
“I’m not prepared to say today what that number would be,” said Bruininks, speaking after Wednesday’s (Feb. 7) hearing of the House Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy and Finance Committee.
Over the past four years tuitions have jumped more than 50 percent for the 65,000 students in the five-campus U of M system.
For the University to freeze tuitions, argues Bruininks, would translate into budget cuts, culling the student population — draconian steps. “It’s impossible,” he said.
Still, Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, higher education committee member, is backing legislation to freeze higher education tuitions.
“Hopefully none,” she says of tuition increases coming out of the legislative session.
Meanwhile, back at Stadium Village...
U of M plans east-campus expansion
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - 2:37 PM CST Thursday, February 8, 2007
by John Vomhof Jr.
University of Minnesota officials on Thursday proposed plans for an $18.2 million campus expansion project around TCF Bank Stadium, the new Gophers football stadium slated to open in fall 2009.
That part of campus, referred to as the East Gateway District, would be comparable in size to the university's West Bank campus and eventually could house eight to 10 new academic buildings.
University officials, in a funding request presented to the Board of Regents on Thursday, said the East Gateway District "is no longer the edge of campus, but rather a rapidly developing node of campus activity." Planned developments in the area include TCF Bank Stadium, light-right transit and the proposed Biomedical Research Facilities Authority.
The $18.2 million project would be funded by debt, which would be paid off at $1.2 million per year for 25 years.
University officials hope to have the project completed by fall or winter 2009, when TCF Bank Stadium and the Biomedical Research Facilities Authority building also are scheduled for completion. Most of the work on the project would be done by contractors working on the stadium and biomedical projects.
Mr. Bonzo is puzzled over the disconnect between OurLeader's insistence on getting what he wants or tuition will go up and his comment on the impossibility of a tuition freeze. But of course some additional building projects can be piggybacked on the $250+ million dollar stadium project, that's not impossible. Sort of reminds Mr. B. of the old Perry Como song, or:
Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
OurLeader has actually had lots of practice believing impossible things, e.g. BigU will be one of the Top Three Public Research Universities [in the world] within ten years.
A cold Mr. Bonzo bids you adieu. He thanks a colleague for pointing out the article about plans for Stadium Village.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
An approach to dealing with the state brain drain AND making college/university more affordable.
Indiana aims to keep students home for college, beyond
POSTED: 3:14 p.m. EST, February 6, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (AP) -- Indiana wants its best students to stick around for college and afterward -- and Governor Mitch Daniels proposes paying them to do so.
Daniels wants to offer $20,000 scholarships over four years. But there's a catch -- recipients who leave the state less than three years after graduation will be required to repay the money.
At least 17 states offer general merit-based scholarships, according to the Education Commission of the States. But none have post-graduation strings like those Indiana proposes.
Daniels' plan would give bright Indiana students $5,000 each year for four years to attend private or public schools in state. That sounds good to James Totton, a junior at Purdue University, where tuition, fees and room and board top $13,000 a year.
Mr. Bonzo notes that this price is already a heckuva deal. From the BigU website: room, board, and tuition will set you back $16,234.
However do those Hoosiers do it?
Sunday, February 4, 2007
From the St. Paul Pioneer Press - 4 February 2004
Tuition dispute not just about U
Smaller schools on both sides of border rely on reciprocity
“Reciprocity has tied this geographic region together. Most of us don't see the border, and it would be a real disservice to sort of untangle that," said Alan Tuchtenhagen, admissions director at UW-River Falls. There, the $6,000 a Minnesota undergrad pays annually would leap to nearly $13,000 if the Minnesotan were treated like any other out-of-state student.
The 40-year-old reciprocity deal basically allows Wisconsinites attending Minnesota public colleges to pay the cost of a comparable Wisconsin school. The same applies to Minnesotans studying in Wisconsin.
It chugged along mostly fine for decades. Then six years of steep in-state tuition hikes at the U, including four double-digit percentage increases, threw the deal out of whack. Insulated from those hikes, Wisconsin students now pay $1,200 a year less in tuition than Minnesotans on the U's Twin Cities campus, $1,700 less at Duluth and $2,700 less for the U Morris campus.
The states compensate each other for the costs of reciprocity. Wisconsin paid Minnesota $20 million the past three years. But that money goes to the state's general fund, not to the U directly.
Some lawmakers say the state should simply turn over to the schools the money Wisconsin pays to Minnesota. But U leaders argue that wouldn't fix the basic problem — a Wisconsin student paying less than a Minnesotan for a U education.
[Mr Bonzo doesn't really understand this argument. If ColdState legislature gave BigU the dough from CheeseState, what is the BigU's beef? That CheeseState is "subsidizing" their students? How is this a problem if CheeseState has decided that their student citizens should not have to personally pay BigU's tution, but kicks in the extra. BigU is not being short-changed as far as Mr. B. can see.]
The smaller schools and their students seem stuck in the middle of the sparring between the U, which wants Wisconsinites to pay more, and Wisconsin, which says its students shouldn't be punished for Minnesota jacking up tuition on Minnesotans.
Hopefully the relevant issues concerning this tuition reciprocity mess are surfacing and will be rationally discussed. Right now, at least, it appears that BigU is being a BigBully about this and the collateral damage is being shared by the little guys....
Could this be a threat by OurBenevolentLeaders?
Writing to you from very ColdState where it is currently -14 F. SmallHouse has its original windows and as I write looks like something out of Dr. Zhivago.
I remain your humble, but frozen, servant,
ps. to prove that we are not wimps Mr. and Mrs. Bonzo went to a live broadcast of Prairie Home Companion last night in St. Paul, where we first froze on the walk to the Fitz and then listened to a lot of jokes. The music, as always, was outstanding.
A Modest Proposal
Letters to the Editor - StarTribune 4 Feb '07
Drop tuition, football
Regarding "U threatens to quit reciprocity deal" (Jan. 26): Has nobody in the press or at the University of Minnesota considered the simplest solution to the problem? Lower the resident tuition to match Wisconsin. The money would be available easily by dropping the football program as suggested by Jay Weiner (Jan. 14) and several readers. Many elite academic institutions manage to provide a first-class education to students without a football program.
GARY TOFTELY, PELICAN RAPIDS, MINN.
Dream along with me....
Saturday, February 3, 2007
reports on Pete Wyckoff's testimony at the ColdState legislature.
(Pete is a faculty member at the University of Minnesota Morris)
At the University of Minnesota, Morris, we provide a great undergraduate education. Classes are small, and every class is taught by a professor; we don't have teaching assistants. My primary job is to teach undergraduates, and I love it. I know my students by name. I know their stories. I give them heck if they slack off. If you listen to public radio, I'm sure you have heard our sponsored clip bragging that Morris is one of the top five public liberal arts schools in the nation. The bragging is warranted.
Over the past five years, tuition at the University of Minnesota rose 57%. This rise was not set by our campus, but was a system-wide decision.
Our students at U of M Morris accumulate debt at a greater pace than at the U of M Twin Cities, but graduate with lower average indebtedness because we tend to get them done in 4 years. 2006 graduates left Morris with an average of $22,000 in debts, and ¾ of the students had debt. That last number is higher than the other U of M campuses because our students come from lower income families. Another way to look at the same numbers: for our students who take on debt, the average debt accumulation is almost $30,000.
As much as I worry about the debt incurred by the students who attend Morris, I am more worried about the students who don't even show up. As I mentioned, we serve a lot of first generation college students, and for many in that group, the sticker price keeps them from even applying. We don't even get a chance to try to make it work for them.
I don't feel that Minnesota can afford to let the price of its University slip out of reach for talented students of modest means.
Mr. Bonzo hopes that the drip, drip, drip of arguments by people like Pete will eventually cause some fundamental changes in the public higher education system in ColdState.
Problem: College/university tuition at public universities in ColdState is out of control.
Solution: Spend more money on yet another educational institution.
[This does not compute, Bonzo circuits overloaded, going down, down, down…]
As pointed out yesterday in the Winona Daily News
Now, we are left to trust the Legislature again and, even more scary, trust the University of Minnesota to do the right thing. We hope that the University of Minnesota isn’t just shedding big crocodile tears when it talks about the lack of funding from the Legislature and then, at the same time, creating redundancies in Rochester.
Our legislative delegation has done an admirable job of raising this issue and keeping it in the public light. We hope they keep the spotlight focused on the University of Minnesota, which should soon be telling us exactly what it plans on doing in Rochester. Still, questions about the legitimate need for a university in Rochester have never been answered satisfactorily, especially when one considers the community is already being served by four (count ‘em) higher education facilities.
When Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his plan for Rochester two years ago, it was political pandering to an eroding Republican base in Rochester. Today, it’s simply bad policy in the midst of much hand-wringing about the rising cost of higher education.
Hopefully, the ColdState legislature as well as the ColdState taxpayers will start thinking about the disconnect between limited resources, leading to higher tuition, and the highly questionable use of ColdState resources for a redundant ColdStateU.