As tough as this last year has been on so many fronts in this state, I continue to believe Minnesota’s future is bright. The partnership that our great state has with the University of Minnesota, our strong land grant and research university, provides not only the engine that drives our economy, but helps to shine a light on the path forward during the darkest of times. In a year of uncertainty and hardship, it was heartening to know that the university was here to support our state as well as our country.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the university was an integral part of life-saving research to find clinical therapies and solutions for slowing and stopping spread of the virus. For instance, it was a U of M doctor who created a scalable low-cost ventilator to help meet global demand when emergency rooms were overflowing and ICU beds were scarce. Additionally, it was U of M faculty such as Michael Osterholm who advised the nation on steps to overcome this pandemic.
But the university isn’t just great in a crisis. So much of our workforce and the leaders of our corporations, institutions and nonprofits are U of M graduates. Like so many in our state, my U of M education helped me build my small business: I graduated from the U’s College of Liberal Arts in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and I use that education every day. Today, I am the owner of Jessen Press, Inc., which services our clients and employs our team in great part due to what I learned during my four years at the U of M. Beyond my company, Minnesota’s workforce now includes my son and soon two more of my children who are currently attending the U (one earning a master’s degree in education and the other studying business). I am proud of them and how my alma mater prepared them for successful careers right here in Minnesota.
Our great university depends on critical state support to be in a position to solve future crises and continue to make amazing discoveries and, more than anything else, provide quality education for our next generation. I strongly urge the Minnesota Legislature and governor to keep the University of Minnesota a top priority; our state’s future depends on it.
Mark Jessen (B.A. ’86) is chair of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association Board of Directors and is the small business owner of Jessen Press, Inc.
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