Friday, June 29, 2007

For the Record

On the One-Sided Tuition Reciprocity Squabble

Mr. Bonzo has posted extensively on this situation.

It is unfortunate that OurLeader did not exert a little leadership in getting this thing settled. He repeatedly tried to frame the issue as one of fairness, complaining that Wisconsin students were unfairly paying lower tuition than Minnesota students, while he knew full well that Wisconsin was reimbursing the State of Minnesota for the difference.

Why didn't he address the real problem that was on the Minnesota side of the border? This is what leaders do. I doubt that Mark Yudof would have found himself in this embarrassing situation.

Thanks to our Wisconsin neighbors for bailing OurLeader out.

Editorial: Glad to help, Minnesota

River Falls Journal

Published Friday, June 29, 2007

News that the two governors have brokered a new college tuition reciprocity deal must surely be welcomed by Wisconsin and Minnesota citizens — including the 3,000-some UW-River Falls students who come from the Gopher State.

The problem with reciprocity was always on the Gopher side of the border. Judging by the governors’ deal it looks like Bucky Badger did the fixing.

Tuition costs are going up very fast in Minnesota, faster than Wisconsin’s. This meant the 12,000 Wisconsin students going to Minnesota universities paid less for tuition than the 14,000 Minnesota students going to Wisconsin universities.

Under a longstanding reciprocity agreement, Wisconsin had to make up the imbalance. And it did — to the tune of $20 million in just the past three years alone.

So what’s the rub? Wisconsin’s payments were deposited in Minnesota’s general fund — not the University of Minnesota System’s budget. Don’t ask us why the state of Minnesota and its university system couldn’t figure how to divvy up this money.

But it couldn’t and Wisconsin took the rap. The new deal has Wisconsin students bound for Minnesota paying higher tuition rates, but then being paid off by Wisconsin with “reciprocity tuition supplements.”

Bottom line: Since Minnesota’s bureaucracy and its lawmakers can’t handle money or rein in high tuition, Wisconsin is going to pay its students directly to settle the difference. That cuts out the whiny middleman (Minnesota) and puts an end to the tuition controversy.

Good diplomatic work, governors Jim Doyle and Tim Pawlenty.

Q.E.D. - Bonzo

Needle Stick! The Latex Gloves Come Off...

Apparently Some Duplications are OK
(Children's Hospitals),
But Not Others (Medical Schools)?

`When I use a word,'
Humpty Dumpty said,
in rather a scornful tone,
`it means just what I choose it to mean
-- neither more nor less.'

The potential new medical school, a joint effort between St. Thomas and Allina, has been the subject of earlier posts. See for example:

Earlier Thoughts of BigU Administration Concerning
Possibility of St. Thomas/Allina Medical School

The frustration level of BigU's administration at not being consulted on the matter seems to be surfacing.

(Mr. Bonzo thanks a friend for calling this post to his attention.)

From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:

U official questions UST medical school

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
June 29, 2007

by Lauren Wilbert

The University of St. Thomas and Allina Hospitals & Clinics' idea to jointly build a new medical school in the Twin Cities is generating some concern in the local health care community, particularly within the University of Minnesota's medical program.

St. Thomas and Allina's proposed school would produce primary-care physicians in family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics, areas where doctors are projected to be in increasingly short supply. The organizations this week hired Pittsburgh-based Tripp Umbach to oversee their summer-long feasibility study of the new school. Tripp Umbach is a consulting firm with a Minneapolis office that has led studies for several startup medical schools nationwide.

Some health care leaders, including Dr. Frank Cerra, who leads the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center are skeptical that producing more graduates would solve the looming shortage.

Instead of building a new school, he said, the health care community should focus on solving issues of reimbursement for primary-care doctors and how to pull other medical practitioners, such as nurses and pharmacists, into the mix.

"Just increasing the capacity to train physicians isn't really an answer to the problem," Cerra said. "There is a work force issue, yes. But we need to wrestle with the cost of medical education and the debt incurred."

Cerra said he would rather see the U's hospital work with Allina's Abbott Northwestern Hospital, for example, to coordinate their primary care residencies. A new school might only duplicate programs that already exist. [Apparently this argument does not apply to children's hospitals.]

Mary Brainerd, CEO of Bloomington-based HealthPartners, agreed with Cerra that other options should be studied besides training more doctors.

She is skeptical that a primary care physician shortage is due to too few students entering that field. It could be that the aging population is simply creating a need for more doctors who can be a "quarterback for the care you get," Brainerd said.

"I'm not sure what that quarterback role will look like," she said. "Maybe it's more nurse practitioners working with specialists. With the shortages, we'll have to get creative."

But Tom Rochon, St. Thomas' executive vice president of academic affairs who is a co-leader of the feasibility study, disagreed. "It's very clear that our region needs more doctors, and it needs more doctors in family practice," he said.

The demand for more physicians will be one of the main issues addressed by the feasibility study. If it finds the school wouldn't help the community, it won't be built, he said.

The study also will look into the cost of opening a new school, recruiting faculty and students and space needs of a new school.

"One of the challenges we'll face is [determining], 'How do we make sure we're filling this gap we've identified and not just producing more researchers?' " Rochon said. The school, instead, would aim to put more practicing physicians in the Twin Cities and rural Minnesota.

"We don't think we're competing against or detracting from the [programs at] the University of Minnesota," he added. "Hospitals accept residents from multiple medical schools.

Rochon acknowledged that the partnership with Allina makes for a sensitive situation with the U of M, which sends medical students to Allina hospitals for training.

But the new school and partnership with St. Thomas would not mean fewer residency spots at Allina for U of M students, said Dr. Penny Wheeler, Allina's chief clinical officer.

For its latest clinical training program, university medical school graduates filled only 45 of Allina's 142 primary care residency positions. As talks of a new school go forward, Allina might be able to create additional spots, said Allina spokesman David Kanihan.

Wheeler is working to schedule meetings with various officials at the U of M to talk about how the new school would affect their long-standing relationship, and Allina CEO Dick Pettingill has met with Cerra at least twice so far, she said.

"[The proposed school] is meant to be complementary, not competitive," Wheeler said.

Still, some from the university feel left out of the planning process.

"We've offered to help Allina and St. Thomas in any way possible," Cerra said. "We have 150 years of experience with schools, and so far, they haven't asked for that information." [What is this about? See above. Looks like Dr. Cerra has met with Allina CEO "at least twice so far."]

St. Thomas and Allina's focus on primary care comes as some Minnesota schools are showing a drop in students going into that field. Figures from the U of M's annual residency match program, which places medical students in practice areas, show that internal medicine and family practice have the highest participation.

But those numbers have dropped while class sizes have stayed relatively flat. In 2005, 50 students entered an internal medicine residency and 40 went into family practice. By 2007, those numbers dropped to 39 students in internal medicine and 35 students in family practice.

As Mr. Spock would say: "Interesting."


Other Voices, Other (Hospital) Rooms

Cha-Ching and the Business of Childrens Hospitals

Mr. B. has previously commented on the involvement of BigU in the local childrens hospital wars.

Gary Schwitzer, [University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication] has recently posted on this topic. One of his sites is World Health Care Blog, which is devoted to "a hosted conversation on the business and practice of health care."


There was a meeting yesterday, presided over by Dr. Cerra, during which he confirmed that BigU is going forward with plans on the joint BigU/Fairview childrens hospital building.

Cha-ching, indeed.


And another one hits the road...

(Mr. B. thanks a friend for calling this to his attention.)

From BigU's Biotechnology Gateway:

Flickinger leaves BTI for N.C. State

The BioTechnology Institute's Michael C. Flickinger, Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, has accepted a joint appointment with North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, as Professor of Microbiology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the College of Engineering located on the Centennial Campus. Beginning this August, he will also be Associate Director for Curriculum of the new Golden Leaf Biomanufacturing, Training and Education Center (BTEC), the largest bioprocess and biomanufacturing training center of its kind on a U.S. academic campus.

It is going to be difficult to complete the Ten Year March to Greatness when we can't keep the good people we've got. NC State is an interesting institution. They have also recently recruited a world-class mass spec/proteomics person (David Muddiman) from Mayo. It's hard to be humble at BigU when you have ambitious aspirations, but maybe it would be a more productive strategy to try to keep the good people we have?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So What's It Going to Be at BigU?

A Medallion or a Yugo?

Mr. B. has previously written about the Yugo strategy that was unfortunately endorsed today at the U of M by the Board of Regents.

See: "The Fix is On, Another Fast Shuffle at BigU, or If You Can't Compete on Quality Compete on Price"

Thanks to OurLeader for further evidence that discussion of such matters is not for the stakeholders. Big Brother knows best. So much for transparency and openness. There are many unintended consequences on the horizon.

Out of state (non-reciprocity) tuition is to be set at $2000 per semester higher than in state tuition. This is a cut of about $8000 per year. It will be interesting to see how much traffic this generates from out of state students. Needless to say the new rate is significantly less than out of state tuition at so-called medallion schools that the U would like to emulate:

Many of the nation’s best and brightest students consider the University of Minnesota a “medium-quality school,” not in the same class as Michigan or Wisconsin.

The university is not viewed as a “medallion” destination [According to BigU, the BigTen medallion schools are Michigan, Penn State, Illinois, and Wisconsin] by top academic prospects. Even honors students who choose Minnesota rate its academic quality lower than the schools they turned down, according to an internal university analysis.

“Medium-quality, high-affordability” schools like the University of Minnesota must keep tuition low or offer big scholarships to lure good students. “Medallion schools” can charge higher tuition and offer fewer merit scholarships.

Oh well, if you can't compete on quality, compete on price. There was even talk in the early stages of the proposed Ten Year March to Greatness that a high quality residential college should be formed to attract outstanding students. Someone must have finally realized that this would cost a lot of money, more than we are apparently willing to spend except for football. BigU is not Carleton, St. Olaf, or Macalester. Education at BigU remains a business. It will be interesting to see the reaction of ColdState citizens to this move, once its implications become more fully understood.

From the Pioneer Press:

by Paul Tosto (Article Last Updated: 06/27/2007 04:26:20 PM CDT)

The U will significantly cut tuition at the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses for students from states outside the Upper Midwest. Starting for students entering in 2008-2009, those "non-resident, non-reciprocity" students will pay only $2,000 more per semester than Minnesotans for the Twin Cities campus and $1,000 more than Minnesotans in Duluth. Right now it's nearly a $6,000 difference on the Twin Cities campus and nearly $5,000 for Duluth.

Officials say that while the U's commitment to Minnesota students remains solid, the university is concerned about projected declines of high school students in Minnesota and neighboring states and how it might affect the university's future enrollment. Reducing non-resident tuition would make the U potentially more attractive to students outside the Upper Midwest.

One of the deans at an open forum on the budget claimed that going out of state, to Illinois for example, was going to be necessary in order to keep up minority enrolllment at BigU. Excuse me sir, you have heard of the late, lamented General College? You do know that we have a large minority population in North Minneapolis that might be fertile ground for BigU to do some of this vaunted outreach and community involvement. Perhaps then we could educate our own minority citizens at BigU rather than the citizens of Illinois, or Florida, or California. Or is that too much to ask of a land grant institution that aspires to be one of the top three public research universities in the world, but is having trouble rising to the top half of the BigTen?

See: "Oh Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble, When You Have Ambitious Aspirations"

At least for now it is apparently not the medallion, but the Yugo for BigU. Let's all hope for better in the future.



Professor Vivek Kapur, Director of the Biomedical Genomics Center at BigU, has just announced that he will be decamping for one of those BigTen medallion schools BigU wishes to emulate - Penn State.

Some difficult choices face our leaders at BigU: Coke or Pepsi? Research or Teaching? Duplication of medical schools or children's hospitals? Becoming the third greatest public research university in the world or pursuing our mission as a land grant university? The medallion or the Yugo?

Children as Pawns in the Latest Expensive Healthcare Competition Involving BigU

Mr. B. has noted that a new medical school may be established as a partnership between Allina and St. Thomas. This apparently has gotten knickers in a twist at BigU. (Something about wasteful duplication and osteopaths being the root of all evil...) The children's hospital excesses outlined below involve a potential competition between the BigU/Fairview partnership and Allina. Maybe wasteful duplication is only bad when somebody else does it?

From the Strib:

The Minneapolis renovation is to start this year, with the St. Paul project to follow. The U of M also plans to build a new pediatric facility.

By David Phelps, Star Tribune

Last update: June 26, 2007 – 9:53 PM

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota announced Tuesday that it intends to spend $300 million for a major renovation of its campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The announcement follows one earlier this year by University of Minnesota Children's Hospital that it will build a new $175 million facility on its Fairview Riverside campus.

The dual projects have some in the health care community concerned about the level of competition in the highly specialized world of pediatric medicine.

They worry about what is in store as the two hospitals attempt to recruit staff and patients.

"Both [hospitals] have repeatedly acknowledged that the community would be better off with one world-class pediatric health and medical center which would attract first rate researchers, clinicians and medical educators to serve the needs of our kids and their families," former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger said.

He heads the National Institute of Health Policy at the University of St. Thomas.

"On the theory that better beds don't necessarily make better health care, one wonders why the community should invest upwards of $500 million with achieving the 'national center of excellence' it may be eager to support," he added.

The project will be funded through operating cash flow, bonds and philanthropic support, the hospital said.

Children's of Minneapolis and St. Paul accounts for more than half of the region's acute pediatric care admissions. It is the country's sixth largest children's health care provider and the largest in the Upper Midwest.

However, competition for young patients is growing. In addition to the University's planned expansion at Fairview Riverside, the Mayo Clinic just opened its $15 million T. Denny Sanford Pediatric Outpatient Center. South Dakotan Sanford also gave $16 million to Sioux Valley Hospitals in Sioux Falls, S.D., for the Sanford Children's Hospital.

Over the years, hospital organizations in Minnesota have attempted to pool resources to build one comprehensive children's facility but never were able to agree on the details of such a joint operation.

Critics warn that funding for the expansion projects may be difficult to obtain as philanthropic resources are stretched thin by competing fundraising efforts.

Goldbloom is undeterred.

"Competition exists now," he said. "We don't think we're changing the landscape. Facilities to treat children need to be kept up to date."

Peter Gove, co-chair of a Citizen's League committee that looked at medical facilities' decision making last year, said the current system for determining where and when hospitals and other medical centers get built is done without input from those who pay for it: Consumers.

"The system remains supplier driven, and the public policy role is limited," Gove said.

In other words the health care system will try to extract money from us by using our children? Check.

A disappointed Bonzo
Replace Science Classroom Building?

We've Been Talking About This for Thirty Years,

Could We Please Do Something?

(With a Side Rant on Teaching Methods...)

"It's a better use of money than a $500 million football stadium"

Nothing illustrates the priorities of the current administration better than the so-called Science Classroom Building situation…

The building is a dive. I think that it has been neglected of late because the general consensus is that it should be pushed into the Mississippi and that this should be happening soon. We’ve had many new RESEARCH buildings built while the miserable condition of the Science Classroom TEACHING Building has continued. Nevertheless, Mr. B. has fond memories of the Science Classroom Building. Great lectures by great teachers in large classes. Hearing a Nobel Prize winning chemist present a lecture and students going up afterwards to have their OChem books autographed.

Eventually, when OurLeader has attended to more important things like football, he gets around to taking care of this eyesore.

Full disclosure: Mr. B. is very familiar with the Science classroom building having made first acquaintance nearly forty years ago. He is a proud graduate of BigU’s chemistry department and has had some experience teaching chemistry at the undergraduate level.

From the Daily

June 27, 2007

Pres. wants to raze eyesore
By Mitch Anderson

The Science Classroom Building, long described as a campus blemish by students and instructors alike, could soon be getting more than just a touchup.

The building, a fixture of the East Bank campus since 1962, would be demolished to make way for a new Science Teaching and Student Services Center.

Wayne Gladfelter, a professor of chemistry who has taught in the Science Classroom Building for most of his 19 years at the University, said the project would be a much-needed upgrade to the current facilities.

"Many of the faculty, including myself, feel that the lecture halls themselves aren't too bad," he said. "But that being said, the rest of the building is a disaster."

The facility would include several state-of-the-art science classrooms in addition to other student service offices offering academic advising, career counseling, financial aid and billing - offices which are currently scattered across the Minneapolis campus.

Gladfelter said the current building is in desperate need of renovations to the heating and ventilation systems in addition to being just plain ugly.

"The building just looks like a dump. It's a sad entry to the East Bank of the University, one of the gateway buildings as they say," he said. "It's just a shame that it's so ugly."

University officials conservatively estimated the project would be completed by 2012, but talks are currently underway to start sooner in order to save money on inflation.

Michael Perkins, associate vice president of Capital Planning and Project Management, said the new classrooms will feature several technological advancements to provide a more active learning environment for students.

"We're going to be moving to an interactive classroom as opposed to an auditorium setting," Perkins said. "All the research that we've looked at, which has been substantial, points out that people learn better, faster and retain more when they learn in interactive settings as opposed to sitting and being fed information."

-------Side rant-------

Sorry sir, I have some news for you. This comes from the real world and not your uncited "substantial" research. It comes from someone who has actual experience teaching real undergraduates at places ranging from Carleton to BigU over nearly forty years. Although I might be a curmudgeon, I am not a Luddite. I use technology where appropriate and have even won an award from BigU for technology enhanced teaching.

The best way to present introductory courses in general, organic, and biochemistry is the lecture method.

“Opposed to sitting and being fed information” is a little loaded. The reason students go to lectures (good ones anyway) is that the material is presented by an expert in a way that students can learn it. Trot on down the road to St. Olaf or Carleton or across the river to St. Thomas or down 494 to Normandale. Take Ochem with Chuck Carlin or Gary Spessard or Dr. OJ or Chuck Ojala to name just a few of the outstanding chemistry lecturers at these fine institutions.

Guess what - it is the people stupid! And good teachers will make appropriate use of technology using their best judgment.

Could we please look at the RESULTS of the teaching method and the satisfaction/dissatisfaction of students, rather than making loaded and unsupported statements about how people “learn better, faster, and retain more when they learn in interactive settings.” (They "leap tall buildings at a single bound"?) I call BS.

The chemistry department at Minnesota is one of the best teaching departments at the University. Look at the number of faculty members in chemistry who have won teaching awards. AND the interesting thing is that many of the chemistry department’s world class scientists are also world class teachers. Bill Tolman, Larry Que, and Chris Cramer come immediately to mind. There are many more. Look at the comments on Rate My Professors about chemistry faculty members. Chemistry undergrads who work in my lab actually know some chemistry and guess where they learned it?


Currently there are 11,000 students [a significant fraction of the entire student population] enrolled in chemistry courses alone in any given year, many of which are taught in the Science Classroom Building.

Gladfelter said the University needs to be careful when balancing resources for instructing students with accessibility for large classes.

"With many of these buildings that they're talking about constructing, there seems to be a relatively small proportion spent on classrooms," he said. "That's something we cannot afford to lose."

Professor Gladfelter, an outstanding teacher and former chairman of the chemistry department, makes an excellent point. Do NOT neglect decent large classrooms in this new building. They have their important place and the chemistry department has made great use of them.

Orlyn Miller, director of planning and architecture at the Office of Capital Planning and Project Management, said the University placed a higher priority on the project this year after it failed to get funding last year.

"Because this is a carry-over from the 2006 request that didn't get funded, my feeling is that (the project) will have high priority and, from the University's perspective, be promoted pretty heavily from the Legislature," he said.

Miller added that it didn't hurt that Bruininks is a strong supporter of the project.

Uh-huh, he has been a really strong and vigorous supporter… If he had put as much effort into getting the Science Classroom Building situation taken care of as he put into the football stadium we would have had a gold-plated science classroom building two years ago.

Student opinion varies on the proposed Science Classroom Building makeover.

Mike Stone, a neuropsychology student who has attended classes in the Science Classroom Building, said just because the building is an eyesore doesn't mean it isn't still useful.

"I think the technology is too old in terms of projection and sound systems, but otherwise (the building) is adequate," Stone said. "On the other hand, lecture halls and labs are more necessary than some of the other projects on campus."

Anthropology junior Tom Taff agreed with Stone's sentiments.

"It's a better use of money than a $500 million football stadium," he said.

On the one hand it is good that this situation is finally going to be taken care of. On the other hand I fear that the people making decisions do not know what they are doing. I certainly hope that they consult with the folks in chemistry such as Wayne Gladfelter - to make sure that a new science classroom building is done right. A new building done badly will be even worse than the current eyesore.

Remember when the geniuses tore down the poor old decrepit - on campus - Memorial Stadium and replaced it with something they now admit was even worse...the downtown Metrodome? And now we're going to replace the downtown Metrodome with? Twin City Federal Stadium (almost named T. Denny Sanford* Stadium). Which of course will be right back on campus near... the old Memorial Stadium location.

Which goes to show that if you wait long enough as a U of M administrator, people will eventually forget your past sins and you can feel free to re-write history. (I was a very strong supporter of the new Science Classrom Building. There is no conflict between teaching and research. I am for stature rather than ratings. I strongly support General College. I strongly support a higher minority enrollment. General College must go. I am against re-engineering. I am for Kotter's Eight-Stage Process of Creating Change. This is a land grant institution.)

And so it goes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Look Who's Already Rewriting History

"Those Who Forget the Lessons of History Are Doomed To Repeat It"

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

University of Minnesota statement regarding tentative Wisconsin reciprocity agreement announcement:

University News Service

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL ( 6/22/2007 ) -- The following is a statement from University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks regarding today's announcement that the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin have agreed on a tentative modified tuition reciprocity arrangement:

"The proposed new reciprocity agreement appears to adequately address the concerns expressed by the University of Minnesota.

Let's change this to 'expresssed by the administration of the University of Minnesota,' please. Some of us, citizens and stakeholders, did not go along with OurLeader’s reasoning in this matter.

“From the beginning, we [Who is this we, kemo sabe?] have sought to preserve tuition reciprocity between Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a fairer and more equitable arrangement.”

Uh-huh, and if “we” didn’t get our way, OurLeader was perfectly willing to stick it to the Wisconsin undergrads and their parents, because, of course, what could they do about it? [There is plenty of documentation to this effect out there on the electronic Rialto.]

"The University appreciates the diligence of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education in working towards this compromise and looks forward to final approval of an agreement by both states and the appropriate higher education governing boards."

To say nothing of the people of Wisconsin and Governor Doyle who have essentially solved the problem for OurLeader by arranging for Wisconsin to pay the difference in a way that appears to satisfy OurLeader’s beef. Note that Wisconsin undergrads will not actually be paying any more under the new plan than they were paying previously. Something to think about at BigU?

Thanks also to Governor Pawlenty for brokering the deal, something that was apparently beyond the capability of OurLeader, BigU's administration, BigU's crack team at the legislature, and BigU's house analyst.

It is time for OurLeader to take some turpentine to the tar on his fingers, drop the Driven to Discover PR campaign, and drop the over-the-top "aspirational goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world." Why don't we get to work and try to be in the top half of the Big Ten in the next five years. We have a lot of work to do to even accomplish this modest goal. Like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, try to be a straight shooter. Try for some openness and transparency. Please drop this aspirational goal smokescreen.

By the way, a fire sale on out of state tuition for non-reciprocity states [ca $8000 cut] is not a good idea. [See: The fix is on - Another Fast Shuffle at BigU or if you can't compete on quality, compete on price.]

This may sneak through at the next meeting of the Board of Regents, since it was intentionally brought up by OurLeader at the very last minute so that there would not be time for discussion or reflection by the university community. I guess this is what OurLeader considers to be transparency and openness?

There are going to be unpleasant, unintended consequences if this happens, despite assurances from a dean that this really wouldn't matter because the number of students involved was so small. But let the geniuses (in the Sid Hartman sense) figure this out for themselves. Once word of the fire sale gets out of flyover land, the gold rush will be on, at least for a while, until the citizens of ColdState start asking why the enrollment at BigU is less than 60% residents. Why, exactly, are less than ten percent of the state's high school graduates attending BigU? Maybe BigU's enrollment - and budget - should be smaller?

Mr. Bonzo, a humble but ambitious Gopher/Hawkeye/Wildcat hybrid, is driven to discover world class this life or the next.
Tuition Reciprocity
The view from this side of the St. Croix

Mr. B. has posted earlier today on the apparent resolution of the tuition reciprocity debacle. The Pioneer Press has a little more detail and analysis of the situation in an article recently posted. They seem to be more on the ball about these things than some of their competition, e.g. the Daily or the Strib. There may be some excuse for this at the Strib where terrible hits have recently taken place in the newsroom...

Deal reached to settle Minnesota, Wisconsin tuition dispute
Pioneer Press

Article Last Updated: 06/22/2007 01:54:12 PM CDT

Minnesota and Wisconsin students hoping to cross the border for college can breathe a little easier. Officials said today they reached a deal to renew a long-standing tuition pact that helps keep college affordable in both states.

For students, the new agreement's effect should be negligible. They'll continue to pay the same price they would for a comparable public college in their home state.

Most of the change is behind the scenes as the two states rework the way the compensate each other. Wisconsin, for instance, paid Minnesota a total of more than $20 million over the past three years to close the tuition gap for Wisconsin students studying here. That money, however, went to Minnesota's general fund, not to the schools.

Under the new deal, the money paid by Wisconsin will start flowing to the colleges as a "tuition reciprocity supplement," starting with freshmen entering in fall 2008.

"To the student, it'll appear like the same arrangement," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said today on his weekly radio show.

The deal still needs official approval from both states, but it appears the agreement will keep the 40-year-old tuition pact intact.

It had been in danger of falling apart. Minnesotans had faced rapid tuition hikes for the U the past few years but the pact insulated Wisconsin students from those jumps. The result: the U campuses became $1,200 to $2,700 a year cheaper for Wisconsin undergraduates than for Minnesotans.

Earlier this year, the U had threatened to leave the pact, and U regents had a vote scheduled on it for Wednesday.

The idea the U might pull out led to worries the two states could abandon the neighborly agreement and start charging each other's students at the much higher non-resident tuition rate and causing public college costs to skyrocket.

The new deal, though, solves three basic issues:

Minnesotans and Wisconsinites will be charged the same tuition at the U - something U leaders insisted was only fair.

Wisconsinites will still pay less, thanks to their home state's subsidy. Wisconsin negotiators said their primary goal was to keep tuition affordable for their students.

Those Wisconsin payments will go to the colleges, not to Minnesota's general fund, so Minnesota schools won't lose money on their Badger State students.

"The amount of money that we're sending now will just be divided differently and sent to different places," said Connie Hutchison with the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board.

The deal has the backing of U President Robert Bruininks. A U spokesman said the regents were prepared to postpone Wednesday's vote to leave the pact.

Perhaps the biggest loser in the new agreement is Minnesota's general fund. As the tuition gaps between the two states close and money starts going to the schools, Wisconsin's obligation to the general fund will ebb. By 2012, Minnesota will be paying Wisconsin, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Fortunately, the governors stepped in and brought this fiasco to a halt. Obviously, this was beyond the capability of OurLeader to deal with other than by threatening to pull the plug.

One happy Bonzo

Tuition Reciprocity Snit Resolved
Well, I've seen everything...

Mr. B. has commented many times on the situation. What always seemed silly was that the State of Wisconsin paid the State of Minnesota the money necessary to cover any tuition imbalance. And yet, instead of trying to get the state to pony up, the University, the Daily, the Strib, all complained about how terribly unfair the situation was and that the students from Wisconsin should pay the same tuition as those from Minnesota, ignoring the fact that the difference was being paid by the state. Are they angry because the State of Wisconsin is trying to make higher education affordable for their citizens? Are they embarrassed by the fact that the in state tuition at Madison is less expensive than the U? I think that BigU's administrators were afraid to bring the matter up with the state because they felt helpless and embarrassed.

Mr. B. is not a fan of our governor - TPaw. Mr. B. is not of the no new taxes persuasion. But TPaw as well as Governor Doyle should be given credit for not putting their heads in the sand and ignoring this mess with the University threatening to pull out unilaterally if they did not get their way. Today a resolution has apparently been reached:

States reach agreement on tuition reciprocity

States reach agreement on tuition reciprocity

Doug Stohlberg Hudson Star-Observer
Published Friday, June 22, 2007

Gov. Jim Doyle and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced last week that the nearly 40-year-old tuition reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin will continue, pending final approval by higher education officials in both states.

"In both Wisconsin and Minnesota, we have world class university systems and have worked hard to keep them affordable," Gov. Doyle said. "This agreement ensures that as our students pursue higher education, they will have many quality schools from which to choose."

"Reciprocity has been extremely valuable to thousands of Minnesota students and their families, and it benefits the entire region," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "We have worked hard to find a solution that keeps the agreement intact and we are pleased to continue this important partnership."

Under the proposed agreement, there is no change for Minnesota students attending public colleges and universities in Wisconsin. Minnesota residents will continue paying the same price they would pay at a comparable public college in their home state. The same is true for Wisconsin students attending school in Minnesota. But the financing structure of the agreement has been modified to address a growing gap between tuition paid by Minnesota residents and Wisconsin residents attending the University of Minnesota.

Because the resident undergraduate tuition rate at the University of Minnesota is currently higher than tuition at the University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin residents are currently paying $1,500 to $2,200 less to attend University of Minnesota campuses than Minnesota residents. The proposed new pact addresses this tuition disparity by charging all students the higher of the two resident tuition rates. In the case of Wisconsin students attending higher-priced institutions in Minnesota, the state of Wisconsin will provide a "tuition reciprocity supplement" for students to cover the increase in tuition charges.

In Minnesota, the reciprocity agreement must be approved by the governing boards of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Both bodies are expected to approve the agreement at their next regularly scheduled meeting. In Wisconsin, minor statutory changes will be offered for inclusion in the state budget bill and the agreement requires review and approval by the Joint Finance Committee of the Wisconsin Legislature.

The renegotiated agreement will not impact current students or students admitted for fall 2007. Wisconsin residents enrolling at the University of Minnesota in fall 2008 will see an increase in the gross tuition charges on their invoices, but the invoices will reflect a tuition reciprocity supplement from the State of Wisconsin, resulting in net tuition charges equal to what students would pay at a comparable institution in their home state.

The proposed pact does not present new costs for Wisconsin taxpayers. Under the existing agreement, a cost-based interstate payment calculation prevents either state from bearing a disproportionate share of the cost of educating students from the other state. This calculation, which will continue under the proposed agreement, has required Wisconsin to make annual payments to Minnesota's General Fund for the last several years. The state of Wisconsin will continue to make payments to Minnesota, in the form of reciprocity supplements paid on behalf of Wisconsin students attending higher-priced public institutions in Minnesota.

The reciprocity agreement between the two states has been in effect since 1968 and is reviewed and negotiated annually by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board.

Mr. B. is extremely pleased with this proposed solution.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hawkeye's Do Land a Boilermaker!

Dr. Sally Mason is the new president of the University of Iowa, the second woman to hold this position. See a previous post for background.

From Aetiology:

University of Iowa Selects a New President

Posted on: June 21, 2007 5:20

By Tara Smith

Interesting. A female biologist, currently Provost at Purdue:

During her tenure at Purdue, Mason invested both professionally and personally in diversity and innovative research and education.

She raised funds for and implemented a number of major diversity initiatives at Purdue, including creation of a Native American education and cultural center and a Latino Cultural Center, joining a black cultural center already on campus. She started two programs funded by the National Science Foundation that work to increase retention and graduation rates among students in science fields, especially minorities. And she recently implemented a new initiative that focuses on recruitment, including more minority faculty appointments, professional development programs, and incentives for teaching and research on diversity.

In 2004, Mason and her husband, Kenneth, gave a $2 million gift to create the Sally K. and Kenneth A. Mason Fund in support of Purdue's Discovery Learning Center (DLC). The DLC, one of 10 interdisciplinary research centers in Purdue's new Discovery Park, was created to advance research that revolutionizes learning in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math). Through externally funded research projects, innovative programs, and collaborative partnerships, the DLC is seeks to redesign educational practices and create innovative learning environments that, according to the DLC's Web site, "have immediate impact and nurture lifelong learning for students and citizens of a global community."


(with apologies to the late Ray Charles)

A rather strange exhortation has recently been sent to members of the Academic Health Center at BigU:

AHC News Capsules

June 21, 2007

NEWS CAPSULES is a biweekly newsletter for faculty, staff, and students of the Academic Health Center.

This month we’ve celebrated a number of transitions within our Academic Health Center community and that always provides an opportunity for reflection on the predictable cycle of human transitions. As people arrive at the University, there’s a period of adjustment as new questions challenge old assumptions of the way we operate. That’s healthy and of great benefit to those of us who must articulate once more why we do what we do in the way we do it. Over time, those new colleagues become imbued with the culture of this university, and develop into true assets with their expertise and developed connections. And then, people leave and with them go a piece of experience and history that is never quite replaced before the cycle begins again. The true challenge for all of us who remain is to continually challenge our assumptions and work to “think new” as engage [sic] within the culture of the U.

Frank B. Cerra, M.D.
Sr. Vice President for Health Sciences

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Big Loss at BigU

Mr. B. is sorry to report the passing of Professor Marian Stankovich yesterday. She was a hard-working and pleasant person, a good researcher and a fine and conscientious teacher. She will be missed. This just in from the Department of Chemistry Web Site:

University Community Saddened by Death of Professor Marian Stankovich
The Department of Chemistry and the University community was saddened to learn of the death of Professor Marian Stankovich on Tuesday, June 19, 2007. Marian was a long-serving member of the department and university. She was a dedicated and sensitive mentor, a hard-working and well-respected scientist, and, to many of us, a friend. We all mourn her passing. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Added VI-26-07:

Further information about Marian is now available on the chemistry department website.

Hawkeye's Land a Boilermaker?

The U of Iowa's (apparent) New President

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a post:

Iowa's New President is Sally Mason?

June 20, 2007

U. of Iowa to Name Purdue's Provost as Next President

Sally Mason, provost of Purdue University, will be the University of Iowa’s next president, according to The Des Moines Register. Ms. Mason’s appointment, which is to be announced at a news conference on Thursday, is the result of a difficult search to replace David J. Skorton, who left Iowa last July to become Cornell University’s president. After the university’s first search failed, staff and graduate-student groups voted no confidence in Iowa’s Board of Regents.

—Paul Fain

Mr. B. mentioned this matter recently. The only knock on Dr. Mason was lack of experience in dealing with a medical school since Purdue has none. (Lucky her...) Apparently the Board of Regents decided that her other good qualities outweighed this perceived deficit. Given that university presidents are supposed to walk on water and raise money, it seems pretty difficult to come up with someone who makes everyone happy. Based on her achievements at Purdue, however, it appears that Iowa has come up with yet another outstanding president after David Skorton, who went to Cornell, and Mary Sue Coleman, who went to Michigan. It is interesting that Iowa has, apparently, succeeded in hiring two women presidents and that the presidents of Brown, Harvard, and RPI are all women. Perhaps BigU could learn something from this? Maybe having a string of outstanding presidents from the outside is better than promotion from within? Mr. B. also notes that the generous Dr. Mason and her textbook author husband have in the past donated more than two million dollars to Purdue. That is certainly a too rare example of an administrator putting their money where their mouth is.

Mr. B. is a little surprised at this decision because the final report to the Iowa Regents seemed to slightly favor another candidate. The official word should be out tomorrow.

Full disclosure: Mr. B. is a graduate of the University of Iowa (MS, Biochemistry, 1970). He feels that the U of I does an outstanding job for the citizens of Iowa, as does Iowa State which has an excellent reputation as an outstanding place for undergrads in the sciences and engineering. One of Mr. B.'s good friends, the best chemist he knows, is a Corporate Scientist at 3M and an Iowa chemistry PhD. Perhaps a little intra-state competition is a good thing and helps to prevent unrealistic self importance and, dare I say it, hubris?

A pleased Bonzo - if this turns out to be true...

Is BigU Still a Land Grant University?

If so, is OurLeader's avowed goal - becoming one of the third best public research universities in the world - appropriate?

An old timer comments with a letter to the Minnesota Daily:

Land grant University

A recent long lunch with fellow writers and editors of The Minnesota Daily, circa late 1950s, got me and some of the others thinking again about the direction our alma mater has taken under its recent leaders, notably President Bob Bruininks.

One of my old Daily crowd entered the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Journalism by way of General College. A high school dropout, he had to take that route, but it worked for him. He proved to be a talented journalist and a brilliant writer whose career couldn't have happened without the University.

General College no longer exists. Bruininks and his followers tell people like my old friend to go to community colleges, knowing full well that the teaching doesn't compare, and the way into a university education is far more difficult.

The University now is wrapped up in building a new football stadium at a cost of more than $250 million, an absurd waste of public money. Meanwhile, as tuition rises at insane rates, fewer and fewer Minnesotans can afford to attend our University - which, under Bruininks, doesn't want them anyway, of course. The University president doesn't want it to be a teaching school so much as a "world class" research institution - and as such, apparently, a monument to himself.

In December, I objected strongly to the large raise given President Bruininks. Recently, I suggested to my state legislators that they look up the stated and legal purpose of a land grant university. I will ask again, and demand that they require adherence to those standards. The University of Minnesota ain't in the Ivy League.

Jim Fuller
reporter and city editor
The Minnesota Daily, 1955-58