Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some Preliminary Numbers on

the Sainfort Jacko Double Dipping Proceeds

Georgia Tech has furnished documentation confirming that the couple were paid by Tech during the months of October, November, December, and January. A monthly accounting for 2007 and 2008 was provided within eight working days of my request under the Freedom of Information Act.

My request to the University for similar information has not been complied with so far. I was sent a copy of Sainfort-Jacko offer letters and working from this I can make some estimates. If these are incorrect it is because the University declined to provide the requested information. The University did confirm, however, that Jacko and Sainfort were paid by the University during the time in question.

The offer letters indicate that the couple would be paid an annual salary that in total is $501,000. This may actually be a low ball figure, because there are certain augmentations in the offer letter and it is not clear how these might translate into salary.

So the gross “take” is: 1/3 (4 mo.) of $501,000 = $167,000.

The penalty – which the university only announced in December – was $59,000. The penalty included a payment of $25,000 for the investigation. The University claims that my request for the total cost of the investigation is privileged information and refuses to provide it. They also had to return benefits, but not salary for the period, thus leading to the total of $59,000.

Thus the net “take” is: 167K – 59K = $108,000.

This is more than many University of Minnesota faculty and staff make in a whole year.

Also, Jacko and Sainfort were given an interest free loan and several years to pay off this penalty.

I note that faculty in Religious Studies do not usually bring in large amounts of outside grant money. Put another way, some pigs are more equal than others, especially golden pigs.  

The U of M "Sets the Record Straight" 

on Dr. Dennis Polla

Driven to Dissemble (SM)

In another shameful attempt at damage control we find a submarine attack over another obviously fishing smelling situation at the University of Minnesota.

The U's spin-doctor on this one is Doctor Massoud Amin who is the chair of Dr. Polla's department.

From the University of Minnesota web-site:

TLI sets the record straight on Dr. Dennis Polla

We’ve been receiving a number of inquiries about the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) after a recent Star Tribune article about a member of its faculty.

I’d like to specifically address some of the issues raised in the Star Tribune article about TLI faculty member Dennis Polla. It’s unfortunate when important facts are omitted or manipulated in news coverage with the intent of creating a false sense of outrage. That is the case with the March 13th article. Dennis Polla’s service to the U of M and our state is something we should be proud of and that gives us a unique and rich educational experience. 
Dr. Amin, if this is true, why did you not write a letter to the editor or ask for the opportunity to respond in an op-ed? I'll answer that question myself. Because if you did, you would be the laughing stock of the state. 

Here are the facts:

  • Professor Dennis Polla is a part-time employee of TLI, who teaches courses on Fridays and Saturdays and serves as our director of graduate studies, advising a cohort of about 50 students and interviewing nearly all potential students for the program;
  • Professor Polla is a full-time employee of the federal government -- currently at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and formerly with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is part of the Defense Department. He has the permission of the federal government for his part-time employment at the University.
 Did the Strib claim otherwise?

  • The statement that Prof. Polla lost his tenure is inaccurate. The truth, as noted in our response to all 34 questions from the Star Tribune, is that he voluntarily resigned from his tenured position in 2007 to stay at DARPA;

    Dr. Amin, this statement is disingenuous. Technically it is true that Drs. Sainfort and Jacko did not lose their tenure at Georgia Tech. This is because they voluntarily resigned from their tenured positions before their tenure revocations were finalized. 

  • Just last month, Professor Polla received the “Medal for Exceptional Public Service” from the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, which said, “America’s national security is strengthened by his efforts.”;

     and the relevance of this is, exactly?

  • Professor Polla pays his own travel expenses to and from his home state of Minnesota and his federal government workplace in the Washington, DC metropolitan area;

     Did the Strib claim otherwise?

  • The salary paid to Professor Polla is driven by the marketplace for an expert in defense technology and is also less than a scientist of his caliber could make in the private sector. He is an asset to our program and to the educational experience provided at TLI;

     If Dr. Polla were attending full time to his responsibilities at the U this would not be an issue. The pay differential with industry is irrelevant because this can be said for most technical people at the U.

  • As an instructor and advisor at TLI, Professor Polla meets and exceeds the requirements of his position, bringing one of the world’s top defense technology experts into our classrooms to educate the next generation of technology industry leaders for Minnesota. Professor Polla received a national teaching award (W.M. Keck Outstanding Engineering Educator Award). In addition he previously received 7 teaching awards in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota.

    Once again, I don't understand the relevance of this to the matter at hand.  No one is arguing that Dr. Polla is a poor teacher.
Your attempt to camouflage what has happened here is obvious, Dr. Amin.  The Strib was actually kind to you and Dr. Polla. Let's just review a few facts.  Dr. Polla lost his job as head of the Biomedical Engineering Institute.  Problems with his grants were the reason.  As the University's own investigation put it:

“This investigation also concluded that Dr. Polla has engaged in four types of improprieties in his private consulting activities.
First, he failed properly to disclose and obtain prior approval before proceeding with arrangements where there may be a conflict of interest.
Second, he improperly used U of M resources for the benefit of his private clients, and failed to provide the U of M an opportunity to oversee use of its resources.
Third, he concealed or attempted to conceal from the U of M relevant information regarding his private consulting.
Fourth, as a result of the manner in which he conducted his private consulting, Dr. Polla created problematic situation involving intellectual property interests of the U of M and some of his private clients.”
What in the world is a person like this doing in a department that claims to: "With an eye on helping high-tech firms maximize their growth potential, TLI shows high-tech companies how to move more adeptly within the gray zone..."

Does Dr. Polla teach students how to behave ethically, or does he teach them how to move adeptly within the gray zone, meaning "don't get caught?"

Dr. Amin, your attempt to somehow paint the Star-Tribune as the bad guy and to deflect attention from your own whited sepulcher is despicable. 

 Status of Freedom of Information Requests

to University of Minnesota

Regarding Sainfort/Jacko

Double Dipping
On March 13th I requested information from the General Counsel's office concerning the Sainfort/Jacko double dipping scandal at the University of Minnesota.

Today, in partial compliance with my request the offer letters to Sainfort and Jacko was provided.

The University has also acknowledged that:

Professors Sainfort and Jacko were paid their salaries during the time in question.

There are no other repayments other than the ones in the discipline letters.
The University has declined to provide a figure for the cost to the University of the investigation, claiming attorney-client privilege.  They have also declined to provide a monthly summary of payments to Jacko/Sainfort - as Georgia Tech has done. 

The University has claimed in the past that progress in this matter has been so slow because of lack of cooperation by Georgia officials in the matter. My request to Georgia Tech was answered in eight working days.

Did the University ever contact Georgia about this matter? Can the General Counsel's Office provide any evidence in support of this claim?

The Minnesota Daily Nails University of Minnesota

Provost Sullivan 

On Cynical and Deceptive Strategic Positioning

Public Relations Campaign

Those lads and lassies at the Minnesota Daily continue to go toe-to-toe with the Morrill Hall Gang.

(Congratulations to the new Daily Editor Taryn Wobbema)

From the Daily:

[emphasis mine]

Driven to Deception
Recently, University of Minnesota students got a friendly email from Provost Tom Sullivan. His upbeat message highlighted all of the “remarkable progress” at the University since the beginning of its “strategic positioning” agenda... the administration’s strategic positioning agenda has focused more on manipulating perception of the University than actually improving it.

Strategic positioning is essentially a public relations campaign. It corrupts the ambitious goal of truly becoming one of the top three research universities with cynical tricks so that the University merely appears like it is in the top three. The vapidly titled report, “Achieving Excellence,” is littered with examples.

In that report, the University touts figures that show total financial aid to undergraduates has increased by 50 percent since 2005. Nowhere does it mention that tuition went up by almost exactly that amount in the same period of time. Loans are included in the financial aid numbers, so while the University claims that it is giving students a better deal, cost of attendance and student debt loads are actually rising significantly.

The report pulls the same trick when it brags that research expenditures have risen by $192 million over four years. Spending more does not necessarily mean higher quality, it means just spending more.

It is painfully obvious that the strategic positioning agenda is obsessed with rankings.

[The University should be]  focused on teaching and developing its students once they enroll. Recruiting and graduating students is meaningless if they learn nothing here. Furthermore, too much attention to only academically elite students may come at the expense of other students and fails our mission as the state’s flagship public university to promote access to a quality higher education for all.

Being ambitious is fine, but using cynical and superficial practices to “achieve” that ambition is not. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Response from Georgia Tech General Counsel's

Office for Information About Payments to

Jacko and Sainfort

Under Open Records Act

date: Wed, Mar 30, 2011
subject: Georgia Open Records Request -- Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko

Mr. Gleason,

I received your Open Records Act request to review GIT documents on Friday, March 18.  After reviewing your request, it has been determined that documents that you requested are subject to release under the Open Records Act.  
The documents that you requested are attached. As provided by O.C.G.A.  50-18-71, the state of Georgia may collect retrieval and copying costs. Retrieval costs are charged at the hourly rate of the lowest paid full-time employee with the necessary skill and training to respond to the request and the first 15 minutes are free; copying charges are generally $.25 a page. At this time retrieval and copying charges are being waived.
If you have questions, you may reach me at 404 894 4812. 


Shelley Elizabeth Hildebrand, Senior Attorney 
Georgia Institute of Technology 
Office of Legal Affairs 

6 attachments
State (and) University

Although the shortsightedness of the majority party in the Minnesota State Legislature is deplorable and our students and their parents will suffer immeasurable harm over these actions, the current administration has a lot to answer for in not putting up a much better fight in this matter.  And these miscalculations have not just happened this year.  I hope that the current Morrill Hall Gang are finally Driven to Discover that running into a brick wall every year is not a successful strategy.

My fellow U of M alum and parent of five U of M students - one of whom is currently a law student - commiserates:

March 30, 2010
The Senate Higher Education Committee held a hearing on March 23 on state appropriations.  The state senators listened to the witnesses describe the parade of horribles that would follow the cuts proposed by the Republican majority.  Then the committee members voted on party lines to approve the Republican proposal.
Timing is one of the defects in the U of M legislative strategy.  Effective advocacy must begin well before the start of the legislative session in January.  By that time the political parties and the governor have already developed their plans for higher education.  Public hearings are held in order to compy with legal requirements, but it is rare for a state legislator to change his or her position based on the testimony presented at the public hearings.  The U of M administrators have failed to respond to suggestions to adjust the timing (and the scope) of their legislative strategy.  See New Year's Resolutions for New President at  

Yesterday the state senate and the state house passed the Republican bills on higher education.  The senate bill cuts 19% and the house bill cuts 18% from base funding for the U of M according to the front page report in the Pioneer Press today.

The Other Shoe Drops
On top of a substantial reduction in state appropriations the University will sustain a substantial reduction in federal funds--no more stimulus funds and proposed "drastic cuts to student aid and scientific research funds."  (See the March 24th email from the U of M Legislative Network.)
Over the past two years the administration used $61.7 million in federal stimulus funds to mask tuition rate increases.  For example, for fiscal year 2011 (ending June 20, 2011) the Regents approved a 7.5% increase in both tuition and the University fee for resident undergraduate students.  However, the actual increase paid by students (and their parents) was limited to 4.4% by the use of stimulus funds (in accordance with an agreement that the administration made with the state legislature regarding the use of federal stimulus funds).  See pp. 11--12 and 19--20 of the June 22, 2010 report of the Board of Regents at  
For the next school year the students (and their parents) will be facing the full effect of the delayed tuition rate increase approved last year plus the additional tuition rate increase that the administration will propose to deal with the substantial reduction in state appropriations.
The administration is in the midst of constructing a Biomedical Discovery District at a capital cost of $292 million.  The state will pay 75% of the capital cost, but the University is responsible for the remaining 25% of the capital cost plus the costs of operation and maintenance of the facilities plus the compensation and benefits for the scientists and staff who will be engaged in the research.  See the description of the District at  
How will the administration pay for all these costs?  What cuts will the administration make to other programs in order to operate the District?
See also On The Hidden Cost of Research at
It is not likely, alas, that the appointment of new members to the Board of Regents will change the operation of the University.  Last year a state representative (and committee chair) expressed her frustration about the continuing failure of new Regents to honor their promises to change the way the University operates.
This inertia is the result of powerful forces.  There is the peer pressure of the members of the Board that is demonstrated by the unanimous votes of the Regents on virtually every major action proposed by the senior administrators.  Few persons have the courage to risk being marked as dissenters who are unwilling to join the other members of a team in striving (lusting?) for greatness.  Of greater significance, however, is the fact that the Regents are dependent on the senior administrators for information.  The Regents are part-time volunteers.  They rely on the senior administrators to sift through the enormous volumes of information  about the operations of the University, so they see only the information selected by the administrators.  Nor do the Regents have much time to listen to other members of the University community with different perspectives.  The Regents develop a bond with the senior administrators with whom they spend most of their time and thus have a tendency to dismiss other viewpoints. 
Our democracy is built on a system of checks and balances to prevent the concentration of unbridled power.  No public institution, not even the University, has complete autonomy.  However, the part-time volunteer Regents selected by the legislature do not provide a sufficient balance to the power of senior administrators, many of whom remain entrenched in their positions for years as Regents come and go.
The legislature needs a qualified person who can devote full-time attention to the operations of the University in order to provide incisive reports on those operations to the Higher Education Committees.  This person should not be a Regent, but he or she should have the right to attend all Board meetings, including executive (closed) sessions.  This legislative liaison should have the responsibility to review the information produced by senior administrators, to collect additional information through his or her own independent research, and to meet with all groups at the University so that perspectives of other well-informed and thoughtful members of the University community are presented to the legislature.

Michael W. McNabb
Attorney at Law 

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry...

The administration of the University of Minnesota has a lot to answer for here.

Supposedly we were going to become one of the top three public research institutions in the world.

I take no pleasure in pointing this out. But we have to make some serious changes in direction in the next few years. I look forward to a change for the better in leadership at the U.

The Bruininks/Sullivan regime has been a disaster.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How the University of Minnesota's

Image has Deteriorated

University of Minnesota associate professor Giancarlo Casale writes about how the perception of the U has slipped among academics over the years, due largely to decreased state funding — and why funding needs to increase.

“You know,” (my colleague from Ohio) said, “at that time, there was absolutely no question that Minnesota was a vastly superior institution to Ohio State . But today, I doubt anyone would feel that way, not just at OSU but almost anywhere in the Big Ten. What’s going on up there?”

My comments on the post:

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry...

The administration of the University of Minnesota has a lot to answer for here.

Supposedly we were going to become one of the top three public research institutions in the world.

And low and behold, Professor Casale, where were you while this deterioration occurred? It didn't just happen overnight. Why didn't you and a lot of other faculty members at the U of M step up to the plate?

To try to put the blame on the citizens of the state for not properly valuing higher education for what has happened at the U of M is despicable. And the state support for the university is NOT the worst in the country by any means. To say otherwise is simply dishonest. For some facts rather than the usual special pleading, please see:

State subsizidiess for Fifty Flagship Universities

On the Skyrocketing Cost of Administration at the University of Minnesota

On the Cost of Administration at the University of Minnesota

On the Hidden Cost of Research at the University of Minnesota

And I am not a Johny Come Lately on these issues.

January 16, 2007 - Cam BigU Become GreatBigU?

See also this two year old, but still very topical video (three minutes) that spelled out the consequences of reckless behavior and mistaken priorities. Excellence Within Our Means

Some of us disagreed with the vainglorious third greatest public research universities in the world. We asked why we didn't strive to become one of the best institutions in the Big Ten - our real competition. And we were called doubters.

I take no pleasure in pointing this out. But we have to make some serious changes in direction in the next few years. I look forward to a change for the better in leadership at the U.

The Bruininks/Sullivan regime has been a disaster.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Former University of Minnesota

Med School Dean and Academic Health Center Vice President

Describes Sainfort-Jacko Sanctions


"minor disciplinary action"

Apparently what is a minor disciplinary matter at the University of Minnesota can get you indicted in Georgia

"I think we need to put ourselves in the position of acting according to the highest ethical principles. I believe our people do that now and I believe our people will be doing that in the future as well." President Bruininks (Daily: 6-18-08)
Mr. President - you should be ashamed of yourself.

From Cerra's letter (December 10, 2010)

See link above for complete letter (pdf).
(emphasis mine)
This letter of reprimand is issued pursuant to section 10.22 of the Board of Regents Policy: Faculty Tenure, for a minor disciplinary action.
I conclude that the transition process between these two schools was not handled by you in the most professional manner we expect from a faculty member of this institution, and therefore a letter of reprimand is warranted and appropriate.
This reprimand arises out of the investigation concerning dual compensation by the University of Minnesota and Georgia Tech for full salary and benefits paid to both you and Professor Jacko from each institution from October 2007 until February 2008 as well as the payment by both institutions of certain expenses for your and Professor Jacko's travel while Minnesota was recruiting you

It was not clear to all concerned at this institution, at the time that you signed your contract with us, that you and Professor Jacko were continuing to work full-time as Georgia Tech professors from October through January.
Rather we understand that you were paid both salary and benefits at Georgia Tech. 

Second, I am disappointed in the double payment of expenses that occurred related to recruiting trips for you and/or professor Jacko to the University of Minnesota prior to your hire.

Third, I am particularly disheartened by the statement you made about your employment at the University of Minnesota to a Georgia Tech associate dean in February 2008. You represented that you were not working at the University of Minnesota, despite the fact that you were under contract with the University of Minnesota in fact in full-time residence here.
Professor Sainfort, you have been cooperative in our investigation of these issues and have expressed regret for this matter. You have assured us that you did not intend to wrongfully receive salaries and benefits from both institutions and that the expense double payment was an oversight, and have conveyed by accepting this reprimand you are not admitting to any intentional misconduct.

Given this, I believe the appropriate employment action is this written reprimand, together with the return to the University of Minnesota all non-salary fringe benefits paid to you and Professor Jacko (health insurance, life insurance, retirement contributions, etc.) for the months October 2007 through January 2008. The benefits amount pertaining to you totals $19,0240.
In addition the letter describes an arrangement whereby Sainfort/Jacko will pay the University $25K for part of the expenses involve in this investigation. The total cost of the investigation is not given.  They are also given an interest free loan by allowing the agreed upon sum to be paid over the next 78 pay periods.  

It does not appear that they are returning actual salary for double dipping during the period, just benefits.  


Friday, March 25, 2011

Jacko & Sainfort 

Letters of Reprimand

from University of Minnesota

The General Counsel at the University of Minnesota announced upon the indictment in Georgia of two current University of Minnesota faculty members that:

On December 14, 2010 Professors Sainfort and Jacko were disciplined by the university after a review of the facts surrounding their transition from the Georgia Institute of Technology to the University of Minnesota in 2007-2008.  Both professors received letters of reprimand and were required to pay the university approximately $59,000.

There will be another post next week on this matter, when more information should be available.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More on Regent Sviggum and

University of Minnesota

Board of Regents Chair

Is This Fair?

March 22
"Weeks after signing a contract for a half-time job with the University of Minnesota, Steve Sviggum failed to list his new gig on a disclosure form required of members of the U's Board of Regents."
"Allen said many people in the general public and on the faculty have contacted him about Sviggum's situation.
"They all are of one mind -- that the two positions are incompatible," Allen said"
Allen is the Chair of the Board of Regents AND a member of the three person committee involved in adjudicating the matter. He is also the one who brought the matter up before Allen had even engaged in a vote or discussion where the matter is relevant. 


March 23

"In an interview Wednesday Sviggum pointed out that the financial disclosure document says to "list all sources of compensation" but later says not to include "compensation from the University," among other things. "

He's correct - from the disclosure document:

(Click above to enlarge)

Sources of Compensation ... Do not include compensation from the University.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In the Matter of University of Minnesota

Regent Sviggum...

Has the Chairman of the Board of Regents Acted Fairly?

[download pdf of this post]

A committee looking into Steve Sviggum's two roles at the University of Minnesota met for the first time Tuesday to receive paperwork that will help it determine whether it's a conflict of interest for him to hold both jobs.
Among the documents: Sviggum's contract to be a legislative fellow in the U's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, his previous agreement with the school, excerpts from his interview to become member of the U's Board of Regents, and the board's code of ethics.
That code does not speak directly to whether a U employee can also serve on the board.
And there is a student member of the Board of Regents who would be subject to very much the same complaints about a conflict of interest as Sviggum. Has this Regent continuously been recused when any matters affecting the students at the University have come up?

Next week, the three-regent committee could recommend what Sviggum should do: Choose between his two positions, edit his contract with the Humphrey School, or keep both jobs as-is, but with a "conflict-of-interest management plan," which would outline when Sviggum would abstain from a discussion and vote.
Allen said many people in the general public and on the faculty have contacted him about Sviggum's situation.
"They all are of one mind – that the two positions are incompatible," Allen said. He added, speaking of the regents: "We have not made that judgment yet."
Sure, Chair Allen, so if you haven't made up your mind and are going to be fair and impartial about the matter why did you make the statement above.  It is certainly prejudicial.

Regent Allen, I ask you to recuse yourself from the three-member panel as well as from the final decision.  You are the person who made the charge of a conflict of interest, before Regent Sviggum was even challenged on a specific issue and thus it is a conflict of interest for you serve on the panel.

There is also the matter of due process that has been violated by your action.

Please read your own conflict of interest policy and apply it to yourself.

Subd. 2. Financial Conflict of Interest. A financial conflict of interest exists whenever a Regent, a Regent’s family member, and/or a business associated with a Regent or a Regent’s family member has an actual or potential financial interest or any other interest in a matter pending before the Board that may impair independence of judgment or objectivity in the discharge of the Regent’s public governance responsibilities.
How is this conflict any different for a faculty member regent or a student Regent?

Subd. 1. Recusal. Recusal shall mean noninvolvement of a Regent in any discussion of, and decision regarding, the relevant matter to ensure that the Regent's independence of judgment is not compromised, that the public's confidence in the integrity of the Board is preserved, and that the University's public mission is protected.
Subd. 1. Interpretation and Application. The conflict of interest provisions of this policy shall be interpreted and applied to best serve the interests of the University. In some cases, full disclosure and consideration of the particular facts may indicate that a potential conflict of interest is insubstantial so that the University's interests are best served by the Regent's participation. If doubt remains regarding the need for recusal, the Regent involved must elect recusal.
Please, Regent Allen, it is time to do the right thing in this matter and treat Regent Sviggum fairly. 


Should the University of Minnesota

Invest in a Research Park?

The fate of the University of Minnesota Science Park — a 32-acre site for research labs and offices — remains in limbo as organizers look to the University to take the lead as they vie for federal funding.
The issue is time-critical, and progress is needed within the next six months for the park to become a reality, said Peter Bianco, a consultant on the project for five years.
The America COMPETES Act, a possible source of funding for the park, would provide $750,000 for planning and up to $300 million in loan guarantees from the federal government.
The act is currently facing the federal Board of Appropriations for approval, but if it’s passed, the University needs to be ready to submit a proposal, Bianco said.
He said competition from other academic institutions will be stiff, but the $750,000 would progress the planning of the park in a hurry.
Bianco has worked with developers, securing land for the 500,000-square-foot series of buildings that will house research labs as well as offices that companies from the private sector can lease.
The goal is to translate early stage technology coming out of the University into viable commercial entities, Bianco said.
A science park is a place where the private sector and the University can work together and create jobs and innovation, said Eileen Walker, CEO of the Association of University Research Parks.
“We could be doing so much more if we had the infrastructure here,” Bianco said.
“What we’re talking about is an interconnected community that is physically linked to campus.”
The research community would help the University attract world-class faculty and bring more research grants to the University.
Overall, this would translate into more jobs for graduate students, higher faculty retention and large corporations on campus because of the science park.
“In a perfect world, this whole thing should be led by the University,” Bianco said.
“Budget cuts are one thing, but at one point, the University just needs to kick it in gear.”
Studies have shown that the closer a startup is to its original location of research, the more likely the commercial success, Bianco said.
“This is not rocket science — there are 45 of these things in the U.S. — we are the last one, period. We shouldn’t even be talking about this,” Bianco said.
Bianco has also received approval from the state government and neighborhood associations, but one question remains: “Where is the University?”
The University supports a science park and the America COMPETES Act, but financial conditions make it difficult for the University to discuss the construction of new buildings.
“We’re excited about the project and the opportunities it presents,” said John Merritt, Vice President for Research at the University. “Given the tough economic climate, we just aren’t able at this point to have any additional financial commitments just given what’s going on with state funding.”
Bianco said it’s vital for the University to build a research park for it to stay competitive among the world’s research institutions.
“[A research park] is extraordinarily important, especially when universities have to diversify their income streams,” said Mark Bugher, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s University Research Park, which has been on campus for 26 years.
“Universities have to attract the best and brightest faculty, and especially younger faculty expect something like [a research park] for them to spit out ideas and intellectual property.”
The impact to the community itself is worth noting, said Bugher, adding that the indirect impact of their research park is just less than $1 billion.
“It’s the single most important economic development in the city,” Bugher said. “These companies are not only hiring graduates, but they provide students with high quality jobs that are needed in this economy.”
My comments on the article:
Ah, a science park is what we need? Google University Enterprise Laboratories. Google Elk Run.

And as to predictions about jobs, jobs, jobs from $ $ $ look at the results from the Genomic Partnership investment of $80 million: The Little Biotech Company That Wasn't - Genomics Research as a Minnesota Economic Engine?

There is a good reason for the University to be cautious about biting into this SweeTango.

We definitely need to invest in job development, but making more financial sacrifices on the altar of biomedical research in Minnesota may not be the way to go. We should invest in areas of strength and look a little more carefully into what they are.

"expect something like [a research park] for them to spit out ideas and intellectual property.”

It ain't that simple folks and statements like these are either hubristic or stupid. As Jennifer Washburn put it in her excellent book, University, Inc.:

"In fact, only a small minority of schools prove successful at licensing research to industry, despite the enormous time, energy, and money that they have devoted to such efforts in recent years. Although every university president eagerly awaits that blockbuster discovery--a cure for cancer, an inexpensive way to desalinate sea water--that would generate millions in royalties, in reality a mere two dozen universities in the entire country make significant profits from technology licensing . Many others barely break even--or lose money. The more universities try to sell politicians on the idea that they can serve as engines of economic growth, the more they are setting themselves up for failure and undermining the basis for their public support." (emphasis added)

If it weren't for Bob Vince's discovery of a blockbuster drug - long before technology development was popular - the income stream at the U would be rather small. People have to understand that replicating this great achievement will not be a simple matter and that scientists are not poised to spit out valuable intellectual property [aka blockbusters] like nickels, if only they had a science park.

Monday, March 21, 2011

University of Minnesota 

Football Regent Johnson is Confused 

about Higher Ed funding 

in Alabama and Ohio

"I was sitting here thinking,  I wonder if Alabama and Ohio are cutting their universities?...I would venture to say that Alabama and Ohio have not cut their state appropriations to their major universities....You know why? Because those fans won't let their legislators do it, " University of Minnesota Regent Johnson, March 11, 2011.

"Alabama’s fiscal year 2011 cuts to higher education led to 2010-11 tuition hikes that ranged from 8 percent to 23 percent, depending on the institution. "
"Other states cutting higher education operating funding and financial aid include Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin." Source: An Update on State Budget Cuts, February 9, 2011

An excerpt from the Board of Regents meeting of  March 11, 2011 is given below. The full video is available to view at the University of Minnesota Board of Regents web site.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The mote in Bob's eye


These cuts won’t solve decade of state mismanagement

 Tsk, tsk, Bob. Look in the mirror...

From On Campus:

I am disappointed that, once again, the University of Minnesota faces deep cuts to state support.
The recommendation of the House Higher Education Committee will mean the loss of more than $229 million, on top of more than $190 million in state reductions in the current biennium. This rolls our state support back to levels not seen since before 1998.
Despite a decade of unprecedented performance, including more students served, more degrees granted per year, significant spending cuts and productivity gains, and record federal research funding and private support, we will again be forced to freeze wages, reduce investment, eliminate programs and services, and increase class sizes.
This course is unsustainable, not only for a world-class university like ours, but also for the state of Minnesota. We have set high aspirations and found creative ways to achieve them.
If the legislature chooses to solve a decade’s worth of state financial mismanagement in one fell swoop by disinvesting in education and innovation, the impact will be statewide, and the damage permanent.

U professor now under scrutiny 

cut from last NSF grant partly 

because of job in Washington, D.C.

..learned from the National Science Foundation that since the U and the Department of Justice investigated him, he had worked on another NSF grant, in 2004.

However, he was removed from that project in 2005.

A document shows that Marquette University, the organization that got the grant and subcontracted with Polla for part of the work, requested to remove him from the project.
It also notes that Polla was working full time for the federal government:

"Being away in Washington, D.C., it would have been difficult for him to recruit and direct a new graduate student's work at the University of Minnesota."

Polla does not do any research for the U now, his boss says.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Statement by University of Minnesota General Counsel 

Mark Rotenberg Regarding Sainfort/Jacko Indictments

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/09/2011) —The following is a statement by University of Minnesota General Counsel Mark Rotenberg regarding the criminal indictments of professors Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko:
This morning the University of Minnesota was informed that professors Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko were each indicted on multiple felony counts by a grand jury in the state of Georgia. According to the Georgia Attorney General, the indictment alleges that Sainfort and Jacko "conspired to be employed full time and receive salary from Georgia Tech while simultaneously being employed full time and collecting salary from the University of Minnesota. The indictment also charges that the two fraudulently billed Georgia Tech for travel expenses, inappropriately directed payments to a relative, and lied about their dual employment and the purpose of the Georgia Tech-funded travel."

On December 14, 2010 Professors Sainfort and Jacko were disciplined by the university after a review of the facts surrounding their transition from the Georgia Institute of Technology to the University of Minnesota in 2007-2008.  Both professors received letters of reprimand and were required to pay the university approximately $59,000.  As part of their reprimands, the university advised them that there may be grounds for further university review and action in the event material new facts come to light.
Professors Sainfort and Jacko's employment activities at the university will be managed in accordance with relevant University Human Resources policies, and the university will adhere to all regulatory notification requirements governing any affected sponsored research in which the professors are involved.

Professors’ Dual Employment 

Draws Scrutiny at University of Minnesota

March 16, 2011, 2:20 pm

Does the University of Minnesota have a problem with double-dipping professors?
The university still pays an annual salary of $112,660 to one professor who also works full time for the federal government in Maryland, the Star Tribune reported today. The professor, Dennis Polla, was forced to resign as head of the biomedical-engineering department 11 years ago for misappropriating research money, but he stayed on as professor and manager, and continues to get paid—which has state lawmakers questioning his dual employment.
Just last week, two other Minnesota professors, François Sainfort and Julie Jacko, were indicted on multiple felony counts by a grand jury in Georgia for receiving paychecks from Minnesota and the Georgia Institute of Technology, where both were said to be working full time.