Remarks to the Eden Prairie AM Rotary
As prepared for delivery . . . on December 6, 2016, Bearpath Country Club
[INTRO- SLIDE 1]
Good morning everyone. I do want to offer you this morning a sort of mini-State of the University address.
First, I want to brag a little bit . . . In the process, do a little recruiting of Eden Prairie students — your kids or grandkids — while I’m here … although you’ll see your students are well represented at the U …Review for you the real impact we have statewide and here in your community … Destroy a myth or two about the University’s affordability and our student debt … And then open this up to your questions and a conversation.
We are right now, as 2016 turns to 2017 — and as I’m in my sixth year as President — a University that’s on the move.
By just about every measure, we’re on an upward trajectory.
Let me start with the incoming Twin Cities campus Class of 2020, which it reflects just how attractive we are to this current generation of students and how much in demand we are.
A record of more than 49,000 high school seniors from across the state, nation, and world applied for spots in this class, and we had room for about 5,900 of them, the largest class since 1970.
Sixty-five percent of them are from Minnesota, where we’ve been for many years.
By about every measure, they’re the best-prepared, most-qualified and most-diverse class in University history, and that’s critical as the demographics of Minnesota rapidly change. They come from 51 countries, 44 states and more than 1,400 high schools as the word spreads that we’re a place to learn and live. Eight-eight percent of them are living on campus in University housing, and of the other 12 percent of freshmen, most live less than a mile from campus.
We’re not a commuter campus anymore and that residential nature has meant stability for our students: 93 percent of our Twin Cities freshmen come back for a second year.
They like us, they’re having a great student experience, and our academic advisors keep our students on track. I like to say if you don’t come back for a second year, you surely won’t graduate in four.
And that’s demonstrated by this …
Our four-year graduation rates have more than doubled over the past two decades, and our six-year rate is now at 76 percent. We hope to improve on those rates in the coming years.
And we’re absolutely preparing the workforce for tomorrow. Our global economy demands innovative, highly educated, and highly skilled workers. We’re doing that. But we’re also preparing lifelong learners and critical thinkers …
With a Strategic Plan that emphasizes interdisciplinary courses and research — even for undergraduates — that is encouraged to cross departmental and even college boundaries.
The skills of our students must be adaptable, not singular, because some of the jobs of tomorrow haven’t even yet been invented. How’s that sound for good reasons for your children or grandchildren to come to the U? We’re doing all that for our students even as our University is being asked to do more and work smarter than ever before with less public funding than in years past.
Right now, only about 18 percent of our budget comes from state funding, even as we’ve become more efficient in our operations — reducing our administrative costs significantly every year.
I set a goal when I became President to reduce our administrative costs by $90 million over a six-year period, and we’re ahead of schedule on that. And we’re graduating students more efficiently, at lower cost per student than ever before, factoring in inflation.
State and federal cutbacks raise the ante on philanthropy and I’m proud to say the University of Minnesota Foundation has had its two best years ever on annual giving, receiving a total of more than $700 million to help students with scholarships and faculty with research funding.
If you’re among our donors, thank you very much for your generosity.
As for the talent force we prepare for the state … Well, it’s more than 80 percent of new physicians, with campuses in the Twin Cities and Duluth. All the new pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians. Just about all of the science, technology, math and engineering Ph.D.’s in the state
And, all told — from the Carlson School to the College of Education to the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences – we have about 250,000 alums in the state, leaders in just about every community and every industry. We always talk about how many Fortune 500 companies we have here in Minnesota, our how we’re among the healthiest states, or have some of the nation’s great cultural institutions and theater. I would argue that the University, our resources and the human capital we produce has helped to drive the state’s prosperity. Of course, another piece of our mission is research. We are the state’s only comprehensive research university and all the numbers bear that out.
We’re the 8th most active and productive public research university in the nation in a state with the 21st largest population. We fight above our weight.
In 2015, with all five of our campuses, we expended $877 million in all kinds of research and that included $745 million of funding from outside sources, be they federal, state or private industry dollars.We have many external partners who are working with us on cures, treatments, new products for the environment and medical devices, new processes from 3D printing to educational software. A partnership we have with the state called MnDRIVE – Minnesota’s Discovery and Innovation Economy – has been focusing on four key research strengths we have and four major industrial clusters we have in the state. Food, robotics, environmental remediation – especially around water – and brain conditions and our work around neuromodulation ….
Which is a critical a link to the medical device industry we helped to launch when pacemakers and Medtronic emerged from our research at the U nearly 60 years ago. MnDRIVE research is interdisciplinary, crossing colleges and departments. The state supported us almost four years ago with $18 million per year in funding.
And look at this impact in fewer than four years.325 MnDRIVE partnerships among our faculty and private industry … The development of 143 invention disclosures … from food to robotics … to brain science … to water issues for agriculture and beyond. More importantly, that state funding has leveraged $76 million in funding from external sources to aid in our research, a pretty good ROI on that state support.
So we’re very entrepreneurial and that’s reflected in the record number of startups we had last year … 17, for a total of 68 over the past five years, and 100 over the last decade. The University of Minnesota is good for creating new knowledge and good for business in this state.
That’s why we’re absolutely in the national conversation about being a Top 10 public research university. The Center for Measuring University Performance at Arizona State – which monitors nine key metrics of what makes a great research university – named us among the best 9 research universities in the nation. And this ranking occurred for the first time in 2014 and continued this year, too. Here you can see the categories they measure. And we’re one of only 9 public institutions that ranked in the Top 25 in all nine of them … from research spending to annual giving from donors to doctorates granted to our incoming ACT/SAT scores. We’re very good in lots of categories. Our peers?
Here they are. Impressive, I think. One of my goals when I took this job was to be ranked among the best, and we are.
When you’re good, you’ve got impact. And we do have great impact across the state, engaging with our communities for the public good.
You may know that we’re a very good system of five remarkably distinctive campuses: Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and the Twin Cities.
This map shows just some of our research and outreach centers, our 1,700 health care affiliations with human and veterinary clinics across the state, and our presence through Extension in all 87 counties.
That doesn’t count, for example, all the work we’re doing in the metro area, especially on the key issue of the educational achievement gap. Our connection with Greater Minnesota is tied closely to health care and to agribusiness, and our College of Veterinary Medicine is a leader in helping ag producers reduce flus and viruses in their animals. In the end, our impact can be measured economically. It’s from an external review of 6 years ago now, but the numbers still reflect just how good of investment this University is for the state of Minnesota.
A 13:1 rate of return, and a total annual economic impact of nearly $9 billion.
I don’t know about your retirement funds, but I’ll take a 13:1 return any day on my investments.
But let’s take a closer look at the impact on your community. These figures are from the two state Senate districts in and around Eden Prairie, Districts 48 and 49. This is the real impact of our University on your community.Nearly 20,000 alums … owning businesses, sending their kids to your schools, shopping at your stores, volunteering for your community organizations. Almost University-trained 800 physicians live here … Dentists, business leaders, teachers and social workers … And because the University cares deeply for all of you, have no fear …
We’ve even supplied 28 morticians to your community. We do it all!
More importantly, there are more than two thousand, three hundred students from this community who are now University students … a tribute to your schools, your families, and of course, the preparation of these students.
Let me turn to a topic that I know concerns all of us, and that’s affordability of a college degree and the U, and the issue of student debt. I want our University to be affordable for the state’s best students.
I call it affordable excellence.
So, what does affordability mean?
First, it’s keeping tuition down.
In my five years here, we’ve seen the smallest increase over a five-year period since the Eisenhower Administration, which is more than 50 years ago. There’s been a 7.5 percent increase for Minnesota residents over those five years, or less than the rate of U.S. inflation over that period. Because of our financial aid and grant packages, we continue to be among the most affordable for families making $75,000 and less, with just two Minnesota State campuses — Bemidji and Moorhead, sneaking a bit lower than we are.
And, in our recent increase, we were able to adjust financial aid for students from families making $120,000 or less, so they experienced no increase. But we are dogged by the national debate around student debt. It’s something that I want to set the record straight on.
Let me be clear: The value of a public college degree for our students and our states—for the entire nation’s competitiveness, really—has never been higher.
And the cost, too, of higher education has never been higher … although undergraduate tuition today at the Twin Cities campus for a Minnesota resident sits at $12,546, which I think is a pretty good deal.
I understand the burdens on many families. I know that student debt can linger. I know that as states have reduced their support, families and students have borne the brunt of tuition increases. I get it, and I worry about it every day.
But, frankly, our experience at Minnesota provides some perspective on the national narrative about debt, which tends to focus on the “outliers,” that small number of students with $75,000 or $100,000 in undergraduate debt. Those are the horror stories.
To me, in a perverse definition of average, most analyses only include those with debt, ignoring that—at the University of Minnesota— 43 percent of our students graduated with no debt at all in 2016.
Yes, with zero debt … more than four in 10 of our students graduate without debt.
Let me show you a few slides. And they show that, counting all students—those with debt and those without—the average per capita burden on our students when they graduate is about $14,800.
And those with debt have an average of $26,000, which is less than the average for all college students in the state, and, for us, that average debt has gone down over the past few years.
Let me be clear: this is debt incurred by the students from University sources. We don't know everything. We don't know about credit card debt or what their parents may have borrowed. But support from the University is the cheapest way to go, so we sure hope there isn't much more debt out there than what we know about.
To me, the debt incurred, while substantial, is a good investment, particularly when you consider that the lifetime earnings of college graduates are considerably greater than those in the workforce without degrees … about $1 million more over a graduate’s working lifetime, according to most data.
Which leads to the other side of the cost equation, which is value. I don’t think anyone can argue against having a college degree in the year 2016 …
More than helping to simply “get a job,” a college degree makes a student a more engaged citizen, a lifelong learner, and, in just about every case, a better leader. All data shows that people with college degrees have a significantly lower unemployment rate after they’re 25 years old and have entered the work force. Going to college is not merely a COST, but it is an INVESTMENT on the part of a student, her family and, really, the state. The vitality of this state relies on its educated citizens.
The real equation in this conversation is this: Value = Excellence over Cost. And we are an increasingly excellent university with great ambition and relatively stable tuition, fueling the state’s innovation economy, and driving the work force … all for the public benefit of the state. And that’s why public support for our public university is so critical for our students and their families, and the state.
Let me close with this. As 2016 ends, the conversation continues to focus on how divided we are as a nation and a state. But amid this narrative, the impact of the University of Minnesota’s tells a far different story to me, and it’s this: the ‘U’ is a truly unifying force across our state.
From North Minneapolis to Eden Prairie to Crookston, we are one of the few institutions that every day works diligently to bridge the urban, suburban and rural divides.
We have specialist Extension educators working face-to-face with citizens in all 87 of our counties. We have world-class researchers and scholars tackling a host of global and local grand challenges — from clean water to the educational achievement gap, from developing advanced robotics for industry to feeding a hungry world.
We have sports teams to rally around. As we turn the calendar to 2017, I am particularly proud of the impact we have across our state as a resource, a convener, and a partner.
Unlike the electoral map, the University of Minnesota isn’t divided between red and blue.
We are, instead, solidly and passionately maroon and gold, and, as we have been for 165 years, we’re here to help keep Minnesota and Eden Prairie strong, forward looking, and unified.