Growth of UMR

Where We Came From - An observation by former Chancellor Lehmkuhle

Rochester legislators and community advocates started the campaign to increase University of Minnesota presence in Rochester as early as the 1950’s. Programs based on economic development, such as engineering, education, and math, began being offered in 1966 as a satellite site of the U of M.

In the early 1990’s, an educational coalition was formed with Rochester Community College and Winona State University-Rochester to form the University Center Rochester – 3 institutions, 2 systems, 1 campus.

In 1998, Rochester was recognized by the legislature as a branch of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. This designation allowed the Rochester site to develop its own leadership structure and to begin expanding its programs.

In 2000, the University heightened efforts to grow both the programs and reach of the Rochester branch by adding a new Provost to lead the campus and increasing staff to accommodate this growth.

Where We Started

The future “University of Minnesota Rochester” began to take form when, in January 2005, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced in his State of the State address that southeastern Minnesota was underserved by public higher education and a plan to initiate research into what was necessary to solve the problem.

Governor Pawlenty formed the Rochester Higher Education Development Committee (RHEDC) and appointed local business owner Marilyn Stewart to lead the group. The committee consisted of representatives from other public and private education institutions, area business leaders, and leaders in health care. The group’s charge was to formulate a plan to advance higher education in southeastern Minnesota.

The RHEDC eventually identified the need for an institution that could drive and support key economic growth factors for the region and to do so through education, research, and outreach. The group recognized the University of Minnesota as the only institution in a position to carry out this ideal. An RHEDC report was drafted and delivered to Governor Pawlenty. The recommendation was adopted by the Governor, the legislature and the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

In 2006, the University of Minnesota Rochester was designated as a full and official coordinate campus of the University of Minnesota system, and shortly after, selection of a downtown location to grow the campus began.

In fall 2007, UMR staff moved into the new facilities at University Square in downtown Rochester and welcomed its new Chancellor, Dr. Stephen Lehmkuhle. Dr. Lehmkuhle was inaugurated in April 2008 with a community celebration and formal address.

Programs offered through UMR were delivered in partnership with other U of M campuses, but in 2008 and 2009, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BICB) and a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences (BSHS) respectively, became the first two programmatic offerings administered and delivered by UMR.

As programs grew and enrollment increased, UMR recognized the need for additional academic space and, in 2009, developed a campus master plan, containing guidelines for the development of a permanent campus in downtown Rochester. As part of the plan, UMR announced its intention to collaborate with existing resources in the community to provide students with housing and recreation and to work in partnership with the city of Rochester to develop a plan for the growth of downtown and the future campus. The Rochester Downtown Master Plan initiative began and local leaders from the city, county, Mayo Clinic, UMR, and other organizations worked in conjunction with the Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) to develop a report to the community outlining the steps and goals of this initiative. The report was finalized and presented in summer 2010.

Also in summer 2010, UMR began its search for a mascot through a public campaign, involving the community and the students. The mascot, the Raptor, was revealed in fall 2010 on the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester and in spring 2013 was named Rockie Raptor through a community campaign to "Name the Raptor".

UMR has continued to grow its programmatic offerings to respond to the needs of the region, most recently adding the Bachelor of Science in Health Professions (BSHP) degree program in fall 2011. The BSHP is delivered jointly with the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, and students in the BSHP program will graduate with a both degree from UMR and a certificate from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences in one of four health-related fields: Respiratory Care, Echocardiography, Sonography, and Radiography.

On May 18, 2013, UMR graduated its first class of undergraduate students in the B.S. in Health Sciences and B.S. in Health Professions programs at the Mayo Civic Center in downtown Rochester.

Where We’re Going

In fall 2014, the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents approved the University of Minnesota Rochester's master campus plan for a pedestrian-only campus in the southwest part of downtown Rochester. The UMR Campus Master Plan will weave the campus into the fabric of downtown Rochester while creating and maintaining a distinctive identity for UMR that serves as a conduit and catalyst to leverage intellectual and economic resources in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota.

UMR Growth Planning Steering (GPS) Committee

I am announcing the formation of the UMR Growth Planning Steering (GPS) Committee with the following charge:

The UMR GPS committee will establish workgroups, appoint membership, and manage the planning work centered on UMR’s growth in size and influence. The GPS committee will engage the campus community to inform and solicit feedback during the planning process. The UMR GPS Committee will evaluate the feedback provided by the campus community, integrate the plans generated by the workgroups, align the plans with the UMR Planning Framework, and make recommendations to the Chancellor about future UMR growth. The GPS committee will submit a report of its recommendations to the Chancellor by April 15, 2017

The GPS Committee will be co-chaired by Vice Chancellor Lori Carrell and Associate Vice Chancellor Gail Sauter. Since our luncheon, I met with the CLI Directorship and the Collaborative Colleagues to answer any questions about the charge of the GPS Committee and to ask them for recommendations for individuals to serve with the Vice Chancellor and the Associate Vice Chancellor on the GPS committee. I also welcomed direct nominations. Based on their feedback and conversations with others, I decided to appoint four additional members to the GPS Committee. I am appointing Norman Clark, Administrative Director of Academic Programs; Barry Standorf, Facilities and Operations Coordinator; Molly Dingel, Associate Professor, Center for Learning Innovation; and Jessie Barnett, Lecturer, Center for Learning Innovation.

Again, thanks for all you do to empower our students to learn and develop. 

Stephen Lehmkuhle