FREE SPEECH ZONE | Gophers dig deep, even in a recession

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The University of Minnesota is making a name for itself with impressive additions even during economic downturn and financial uncertainty.

The goal to “solidify the University’s quality and mission,” was given before a group of students and faculty at the Coffman Memorial Union theater early in March by President Robert Bruininks. Bruininks confirmed that challenges lie ahead, however noted that the University will continue to develop areas of importance to remain attractive.

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A major study conducted at the University’s microbiology lab resulted in successfully identifying a compound in monkeys that could prevent the transmission of HIV. With nearly 34 million people worldwide affected, this study could prove to be groundbreaking. Ashley Haase, head of the Medical School Department of Microbiology, shares that “if this can add to our prevention, it could contribute to saving millions of lives.” Clinical trials on humans have yet to commence, but the recognition of this achievement will be globally noted regardless of the outcome.

This fall the University plans to reveal its new $288.5 million project. TCF Stadium will mark the first time since 1981 that football will be on campus. The 50,000 seat stadium, with the possibility of expanding into an 80,000 seat citadel, is an attractive recruiting tool. Not only have the Gophers captured the attention of potential undergraduate signees, but they have also turned some heads in the NCAA. In 2010 the University will host Southern California University; one of the top football programs in the nation. Athletic director Joel Maturi gives Coach Tim Brewster “credit for wanting to do it.” Without the addition of TCF Stadium, the Gophers chance to host a top tier football team, such as the Trojans, would be unlikely.

A reduction in enrollment, caused by the dragging economy, seems to be the trend around campuses nationwide. The University of Minnesota has combated this with attractive scholarships. President Bruininks admits “that we are probably not going to get more money from the state.” To make tuition affordable the University is revealing the Discover U scholarship. The program, likely to launch in 2010 or 2011, will be distributed to students with low income. The addition of the Discover U program will build upon the University’s mission to “generate and preserve knowledge,” by offering financial solutions to underprivileged students.

The University of Minnesota has taken giant strides to improve its image, even during drastic times. The future of the University looks to be headed in the right direction given their constant dedication to improve.

_Tim Erickson is a student at Anoka-Ramsey Community College_

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