Advocacy: Support the U

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To the University of Minnesota community,

A warm welcome back for the new semester to you all.

Here’s an update on the beginning of the legislative session in St. Paul.

The Minnesota House and Senate are set to convene today and we have a capital request before them for building and maintenance projects.

Last week the governor announced his bonding bill, and it included $78 million for University projects, about $90 million less than we seek. This was disappointing, of course, but I’ll be spending lots of time meeting with our elected leaders over the next few months in an effort to secure additional funding for infrastructure restoration and repair on all of our campuses.

On Thursday, February 9, the University will be presenting its bonding request to the House Higher Education Committee. This will be my first legislative committee appearance. I’m looking forward to making the case for the U.

But, as I often say, I can’t advocate for the University alone. I need your help. I urge you to advocate for your U in every way that you can.

In conjunction with faculty governance leaders, University Relations staff is conducting faculty advocacy training. We also have our two legislative liaisons for faculty, Professors Elizabeth Boyle and Caroline Hayes.

Professors Boyle and Hayes are appointed by the Faculty Consultative Committee and are eager to hear from faculty members who want to join our advocacy effort. Meanwhile, I will be meeting with leaders of our student-focused advocacy program later this week.

Those of you on our Twin Cities campus will have a chance to meet our new government relations leader Jason Rohloff tomorrow (Wednesday, January 26) at a Campus Conversation in Burton Hall. Please attend if you can, or watch remotely on UMConnect.

We will conduct our annual Legislative Briefing for the statewide University community on Wednesday, February 1. I’m thrilled to tell you that the in-person event on the Twin Cities campus is “sold out.” More than 600 people from all of our campuses have signed up. Even if you can’t attend in person, you can still watch it online beginning at 6 p.m. next Wednesday.

If you haven’t already done so, visit and lend your voice and talent to our advocacy work. We want your stories about the power and impact of the University of Minnesota. Together, our stories will illustrate the great value and transformational power of the U, and we need to tell these stories constantly and better.

We all know how important the University is for the state’s economy and quality of life—from our Fortune 500 companies to the startups that spring from our intellectual property; from our farming and agribusiness community to the artists, musicians, and dancers who grace our performance halls; from our student volunteers to the ideas and skills taught every day in our classrooms and labs.

The U drives discovery and job creation on and around all of our campuses. The U is at the center of our state’s cultural richness, and is home to much of what makes Minnesota a great place to live. The U is a sturdy thread that knits generations of families, and I have been pleased to meet many of them in the past several months.

We have long been the University OF Minnesota. But as I reflect on all that we do, in many ways this University IS Minnesota, and it needs to be strong and great.

As lawmakers gather in St. Paul, let’s all support the U.

Have a great semester.


Eric W. Kaler