Football suspensions and other news
As you may have heard, last night we indefinitely suspended 10 players from the Gopher football team. This will keep them from playing in the upcoming Holiday Bowl on December 27.
The need to take actions like this is incredibly disappointing. Unfortunately, these types of situations are difficult for the University because we are limited in what we can say. While we strive to be transparent in all that we do, the fact is that, under the law, our students have privacy rights that we value and respect.
Rest assured, the decision by Coach Tracy Claeys, which was made in consultation with our Athletics Director Mark Coyle, is based on facts and on our University's values. Our leaders make these decisions with the interests of our entire community in mind, regardless of timing or competitive considerations. The Gopher football team is more than the contributions of any single individual. We hope we can continue to count on you for your support on December 27 and beyond.
In other news:
We reported to our Board of Regents last week that the University remains the 8th most active public research university in the nation, with nearly $900 million of research expenditures - including nearly $800 million in external funding. At the core of our state-wide land-grant mission is to drive, among others, medical, engineering, and environmental discoveries for the benefit of Minnesotans, and to help fuel our state's prosperity.
A spectacular example was reported today by the Star Tribune, which featured Biomedical Engineering Professor Bin He's development of bionic arms controlled by people's thoughts. It is a world first.
We also learned that our College of Liberal Arts' social and behavioral sciences garnered the 5th most federal funding of any university in the nation, public or private. So, no matter what the disciplines, the University is at the center of innovation and new knowledge for our state. We are at the cutting edge of tackling and solving a wide variety of grand challenges.
Meanwhile, the final tally on our Fall 2016 Twin Cities campus first-year class revealed that we received a record 49,000 applications for a class of 5,880 - our largest enrollment since 1970 - with more than 22 percent of the class being students of color, another high mark for us. This Class of 2020 - 65 percent of whom are Minnesota high school graduates - also produced the highest ACT scores in University history.
Of course, as we look to 2017, we have many challenges, but I am proud that we remain on our steady upward trajectory of excellence.
Thank you for your support and have a safe and Happy New Year.
P.S. For the second straight year, our volleyball team is in the NCAA Final Four beginning Thursday night in Columbus, Ohio. It's fair to say the Gophers have captured the imagination of, and generated unprecedented enthusiasm from, Minnesota's championship-starved sports fans. (By the way, 10 of our 18 players earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, too.) You can watch our volleyball team take on Stanford in the national semifinal match Thursday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.