Wednesday, June 20, 2007

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

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