University of Minnesota | Rochester

UMR E-News - January 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013
Volume 2, Issue 1

Chancellor’s Column - Administrative Costs at UMR

Chancellor Stephen LehmkuhleI am sure that many of you have either read or heard about the article in the Wall Street Journal concerning the administrative costs at the University of Minnesota. President Kaler addressed much of the content presented in the article at a recent press conference and in his testimony to a Senate Committee. In these public statements, the President shared that the author misconstrued much of the data on administrative costs (e.g., librarians, student advisors, faculty being counted as administrators). Nevertheless, he reiterated in both settings that reducing administrative costs is one of his key initiatives known as “Operational Excellence”, which he launched shortly after his arrival at the U of M. As just one example, he recently eliminated the Office of a Senior Vice President, that which was responsible for the operation of the Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester campuses. The Chancellors of those campuses now report directly to the President and some of the other functions of the office were moved under the two remaining Senior Vice Presidents.

In this newsletter, I want to put into context the role that UMR plays in these discussions about administrative costs. I was hired over five years ago to build a different kind of university being mindful that our resources are changing and must be focused on students and their learning. Hence, we at UMR sought to find more efficient and effective ways to create learning experiences and provide ancillary services to our students. This way of thinking became part of UMR’s DNA - it is why:

  • Although UMR provides courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, philosophy, writing, public health, humanities, sociology, psychology and many others, UMR does not have departments for each of these academic disciplines, each with the associated administrative costs, but has just one academic unit – the Center for Learning Innovation.
  • UMR designed a faculty structure and pedagogy funded with the cost of a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio that functions like a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio when measured by the amount of contact and frequency of interactions between students and faculty.
  • UMR utilizes system-wide resources for a variety of services, including access to digital and print materials at the library, financial aid determinations, IT services for students and staff, property management, capital planning, advertising and branding, and many others.
  • UMR partners with Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Institute, Cray Computer, and the National Marrow Donor Program to deliver the graduate programs in BICB (Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology) at a fraction of the costs of traditionally designed graduate programs.
  • UMR partners with the Rochester Area Family YMCA for student recreation services and with Olmsted Medical Center for student health. As a result of these partnerships, UMR students pay the lowest fees in the University of Minnesota system for student recreation and student health.
  • Although 318 Commons was partially funded with assistance from the City of Rochester through the city sales tax, it also operates as a public-private partnership. The $29M facility provides a premiere living-and-learning experience with student housing, student commons areas, 30 faculty offices, and three large learning spaces. 318 Commons is operated by a third party with limited administrative overhead provided by UMR.

I could provide additional examples, but my point is to underscore that UMR has focused and will continue to focus on student learning, and our fixation on learning will always be reflected in how we think about our administrative structure and ongoing operating costs. I would argue that UMR is part of the solution and not part of the problem.

UMR Student Profile

Tanner VanLithTanner VanLith is a Senior in the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program

Hometown: Maple Lake, Minnesota

Academic/Professional Goals: Physician's Assistant

Read more about Tanner here.



Seven UMR Students, Seven Stories

Check out the website of UMR’s first journalism class. The class studied the critical role played by journalism in a democracy, and how journalism today is rapidly transforming as it either embraces digital technology or dies. The students studied reporting, interviewing, and writing skills and each student produced an article for online publication.


Justice and Opportunities for Youth (JOY) Mentorship

UMR student Chelsea Myhre shares her experience working as a mentor to high-risk youth in Rochester.

Being a JOY Mentor has impacted my life in more ways than I could have imagined. Being a mentor is more than just providing your knowledge and skills to the youth, but to inspire/guide younger individuals to better their lives and provide them with confidence to succeed throughout life. I have had many mentors over the years that have impacted my life in more ways than I could imagine, and to have been given this opportunity to inspire and guide young girls in the Rochester area has been an honor. Being a mentor this past semester has not only allowed me to inspire young girls, but has also allowed these girls to inspire me.

Prior to mentoring, I was focused on figuring out my future career plans and goals after I graduate from UMR. I knew that I wanted to help people and better their lives in some way, but it was not until I started mentoring that I figured out exactly how I wanted to help people. Through the JOY Mentor program, I now have the aspiration and determination to continue my education after UMR and become a Public Health Activist in third-world areas. I have my girls to thank for that.

These girls have shown me that it doesn't matter what struggles you have been through in life; what matters is how you move on from those struggles and learn from those experiences to better your life in the future. Thanks to my girls, I now know that I want to empower others to be the amazing individuals that they are. I would not change my JOY experiences for anything; I am excited to see where the rest of the school year takes me as a mentor.


UMR Dance Team

Dance Team - WebThe UMR Dance Team was kicked off in the fall of 2010. Each year the team learns new routines and performs them for UMR’s student body, faculty, and staff. The dances are a mixture of jazz, hip-hop, and kick. The members have varied dance experience, including those with both studio and dance team backgrounds. This year the team welcomed a new advisor and a new coach. UMR’s Anne Lund, advisor, and Anne’s daughter Shannon Miller, coach, have been instrumental in helping the team grow. Anne and Shannon have assisted with finding space to practice, setting up performances, organizing fund raising, and supporting the Dance Team throughout the community. This year the group hopes to put on several performances for local groups or events in the community and may begin competitions.

The team would like to give thanks to both Anne and Shannon for all their hard work, and would also like to thank Hal Henderson, The Rochester Senior Center, and the Rochester Area Family Y for their generosity in lending space to the team.



While many of the undergraduate students at UMR come from the midwest, click on this map to see how far some of our students have journeyed from their hometowns to study in our Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and Bachelor of Science in Health Professions programs!

U of M Marching Band

On December 1, 2012, the University of Minnesota Marching Band visited Rochester again and entertained a crowd of 3,580 community members with their rousing tribute to James Bond. Watch the video here.


Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Cohort

James Ford at SugiharaUMR history instructor Jim Ford was selected as one of eleven faculty members system-wide to participate in the University of Minnesota’s 2012–13 Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Cohort Program. Faculty participants will engage in professional development aimed at internationalizing the curriculum, joining 28 other faculty members who have been in the program since 2010.


Inside UMR

Inside UMR is an on-campus experience for Rochester community members! Your visit will include a tour, an opportunity to meet students, a visit with the Chancellor, and information about UMR's national recognition for its innovative and unique programs, as well as future plans and growth. If you are interested, email Michon at to be added to the list for future event invitations.



UMR Connects LogoHave you ever found yourself embroiled in an ethical dilemma? If so, you’re not alone! An ethical dilemma is any situation in which our guiding moral principles cannot determine which course of action is right or wrong. Ethical dilemmas have posed a problem for ethical theorists as far back as Plato, and our current culture is laden with them! Throughout February, we will explore a cross-section of these dilemmas amongst different disciplines. From sports ethics, to genetic sequencing, to national and international law, and end of life issues, we will probe the divide between right, wrong, via competing perspectives. Supporting the University's overall mission of public engagement and outreach, UMR CONNECTS is a free weekly showcase connecting the Rochester community and visitors to speakers and panels on a variety of engaging topics. For more information, visit the UMR CONNECTS website.


UMR Employment

UMR is currently hiring for faculty and staff positions. Learn more at our employment website.

The University of Minnesota shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.


UMR E-News Feedback

Please send any comments or suggestions about the UMR E-Newsletter to Michon Rogers, Office of Institutional Advancement, at or by calling 507-258-8059.