Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Call for Leadership at

the University of Minnesota

From a Universally Respected State Legislator

“The U’s reputation is suffering. I hate to see that happen, and (University of Minnesota President) Bob Bruininks has got to take control of the situation.”

From On Campus (MPR):

State Rep. Jean Wagenius, co-chair of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, commenting on the fallout from the U’s pulling of the Troubled Waters environmental documentary. The commission oversees close to 70 percent of the funding of the film.


Here’s the background to the quote I just posted — from DFL state Rep. Jean Wagenius, who helps chair the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, a legislative body that oversees close to 70 percent of the funding of the film.

I got in touch with her because in this whole Troubled Waters affair, we’ve yet to get much reaction from the legislature.

The film is a taxpayer-funded project, but as far as I’ve heard and read, as of last night the University of Minnesota had yet to officially explain to its funders or legislative sponsors why it canceled the film’s premier at the last minute.

That hasn’t won friends among politicians, it seems.

Wagenius said the university has handled the Troubled Waters controversy “terribly” and damaged its reputation “because of (allegations of) censorship and conflict of interest.”

“The U’s reputation is suffering,” she said, and she’s concerned that the story could go national. It has already been picked up by news outlets such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, the leading publication in higher education circles.

She stopped short of calling for the head of the U official at the center of all this – Vice President for University Relations Karen Himle – saying that “it’s not a legislator’s role to talk about specific personnel at the University. That’s the responsibility of (University President) Bob Bruininks.”

Bruininks, she said, should return from his trip to Morocco and “take control of the situation.”

Judging from her informal conversations with University employees, she said, “people are horrified.”

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