Regents in Rochester to make tough choices

Meeting could bring merger of men's, women's athletics

By Matthew Stolle

With an agenda topped by a controversial plan to merge the men's and women's athletic departments, the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents will meet Friday in Rochester to address that and other issues.

As part of the reorganization of the athletics departments, the regents also are expected to consider eliminating three sports programs, a move that drew unanimous fire Tuesday from coaches of all men's and women's athletics programs at the university.


The meeting, which will be from 9 a.m. to noon in the Radisson Plaza Hotel's Galleria Ballroom, will cap a two-day visit by the regents, who meet monthly. The meeting will be the first held in Rochester since the university substantially increased its financial commitment to the Rochester branch by hiring a provost and five program directors to grow the school's academic programs.

The last time the regents met in Rochester was in October 1999.

The two-day event will thus be an opportunity for U of M Rochester provost David Carl to describe how the branch has grown over the past three to four years. Carl will give his presentation to the regents' Educational Planning and Policy Committee, which will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday in Coffman Center at University Center Rochester.

Carl said that since 1999, the number of academic programs offered by University of Minnesota Rochester has grown from 33 to 50, including five doctoral programs.

While still the smallest of the three institutions at University Center Rochester, U of M Rochester has grown by 230 percent in the number of full-time equivalent students, from 65 to 150 students, he said. That figure is expected to grow to about 200-250 students by the fall with the addition of four new programs, including a bachelor's program in nursing and master's programs in public health, business administration and social work.

The regents' activities begin with a closed-door luncheon Thursday attended by U of M President Mark Yudof, Carl and other Rochester leaders. It, too, will be at the Radisson.

The plan to consolidate the U's men's and women's athletic programs will headline Friday's meeting. Regents don't have to vote on the plan because it is considered an administrative change, but they're expected to do so because it's an issue of high public interest. The reorganization plan reportedly proposes eliminating the men's gymnastics program and both men's and women's golf programs.

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