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Regents' View: University of Minnesota delivers in all seasons, for all Minnesotans

From the column: "President Joan Gabel and our faculty and staff have addressed recent challenges with urgency, determination, and new investment."

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The University of Minnesota Duluth appears to be at the end of the rainbow.
Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota Duluth
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Summer in Minnesota means many things. Kids off to summer camps and activities. Days spent in the lake, swimming or fishing. And drives through the countryside as the proverbial “knee-high by the fourth of July” corn grows.

Interestingly enough, the University of Minnesota is doing similar things. We host hundreds of youth at summer camps across the state, leveraging the incredible talent of our faculty and staff to bring science and knowledge to life. Our aquatics researchers wade through lakes and streams, developing effective ways to protect Minnesota’s abundant water resources for future generations. And our agricultural researchers work with farmers across the region to protect our nation’s food supply.

Our work, no matter the season, directly impacts the lives of every Minnesotan. Last year alone, University of Minnesota researchers were awarded more than $1 billion in competitive grants (ranking among the top 10 higher-education institutions nationally) to advance research and new technology for everything from medical breakthroughs to natural resources. From Duluth to Rochester, Morris to Crookton, and to the Twin Cities, University of Minnesota’s experts are exploring the unknown to educate students, directly benefit our lives, and create opportunities to grow our economy.

Minnesota students have long benefited from the University of Minnesota. We have enjoyed record freshman-class sizes (almost 70% of whom are Minnesotans), record research funding (competitive awards won by university faculty), and now record philanthropic giving that translates to more student scholarships. Our four-year graduation rates, a key measure in moving into the workforce, are the highest they've been in 50 years, and the debt of our graduates is steadily decreasing.

Across the University of Minnesota System, we have the most diverse undergraduate student body in our history. Our students graduate with less debt and in less time than many of our peers nationally. We completed a comprehensive strategic plan for the future of the university and launched a nation-leading student mental health suite of services, along with numerous other initiatives, in the midst of the global pandemic. As our university dashboard shows, by all key measures, we are moving in the right direction.

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Our research continues to win national accolades. From the recently launched solid cancer tumor trial, the first in the United States, to the 20 new businesses created in the last year with our patented technology, our faculty continue to probe the frontiers of knowledge across the full spectrum of industry. From medical to manufacturing and agriculture to actuaries, University of Minnesota researchers, on all of our campuses, are at the forefront of research and innovation.

All of this activity demonstrates how President Joan Gabel and our faculty and staff have addressed recent challenges with urgency, determination, and new investment — all while keeping any tuition increases well below the rate of inflation.

The University of Minnesota — your university — is committed to our role as a core driver of Minnesota’s success. From summer to winter, spring to fall, the university creates benefits for Minnesotans year-round.

Ken Powell of Golden Valley, Minnesota, is chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, and Steve Sviggum of Kenyon, Minnesota, is vice chair.

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Ken Powell
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Steve Sviggum

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