President’s View: U of M influencing, reaching out from the Iron RangeDuring my first visit to the Iron Range, I witnessed the research and discovery, the teaching and learning, and the outreach and public service Iron Range residents engage in with the University of Minnesota. I was impressed.
By: UM President Eric W. Kaler, Duluth News Tribune
From developing cold-hardy blueberries to learning how our universe began, the University of Minnesota’s impact and influence reaches every corner of our state and beyond. In fact, that work is being done right here, right now, on the Iron Range.
Recently, during my first visit to your region, I witnessed the research and discovery, the teaching and learning, and the outreach and public service that Iron Range residents engage in with us.
I saw this in Grand Rapids, where the university’s North Central Research and Outreach Center has cultivated blueberries to maximize winter hardiness and disease resistance – helping secure our food supply and the success of farmers.
I saw this in students with the Rural Physician Associate Program and the Hibbing Community College Dental Clinic. They are part of the U of M programs that flow from our state’s only School of Dentistry, and that also produce more than 80 percent of all the physicians who graduate in Minnesota each year. Their work will directly affect Greater Minnesota residents and the health of our communities.
I saw this in engineers at the Coleraine Minerals Research Laboratory. They are advancing methods to optimize taconite pellet performance, extract good ore from tailings and, ultimately, develop renewable energy sources.
I saw this in Ash River, where staff at the new NOvA laboratory will work on the world’s most advanced neutrino experiment. Their research will literally help unlock the mysteries of the origin of our universe.
As our state’s only comprehensive, public land grant research university, the University of Minnesota was founded on the belief that all people are enriched by understanding. The people who live, study and work on the Range embody this philosophy.
In many respects, the university is the Iron Range. During the fall 2011 semester, the U’s five statewide campuses enrolled 3,029 students from Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties.
More than 19,000 U alumni live on the Iron Range, holding nearly 25,000 degrees, including advanced degrees in medicine, law, engineering and veterinary medicine. The university’s Duluth campus and various Iron Range affiliations and partnerships account for 4,000 jobs, an impact of $345 million annually.
I’m committed to investing in the difference you make every day. I’m pleased that legislators approved funding for a new campus center at the Itasca Biological Station (replacing World War II-era facilities) to support education, help retain top researchers, quadruple the number of full-time employees and reduce operational costs.
On a broader scale, I am making student access and investment in the U’s academic and research enterprises my foremost priority. My proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 allots an additional $2.3 million in need-based aid, $2.8 million in new money for merit-based aid and $34 million in new academic program investments.
During my visit I discovered the research – and passion for it – that Iron Range residents put into action. But I want to hear more. I hope you visit www.supporttheu.umn.edu and tell us your story. Tell us how the university extends beyond our campuses and how the University of Minnesota is the present and future of your region.
Together, we can continue our strong tradition on the Iron Range.
Eric W. Kaler is president of the University of Minnesota.