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Kaler to use extra money for U of M students, upgrades

With extra money allocated in the Legislature’s belated budget agreement, new University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler plans to help students and make improvements in the system.

A statement from the U says Kaler will recommend to the University Board of Regents on Friday ways to use the additional $25 million a year coming its way.

“A budget is more than just numbers, it’s a reflection of priorities and values. These recommendations underscore mine: to reduce the burden of tuition on students and families and to make strategic investments to drive excellence at the university,” said Kaler in the statement.

His proposals for the extra money are:

Fiscal year 2012

One-time allocations: $10.75 million

• $4.15 million for one-time scholarships for 13,400 low- and middle-income Minnesota undergraduate students eligible for U Promise program during spring semester 2012.

• $6 million over three years to support Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships. The fellowships recognize high-quality dissertation research and scholarly work and support timely degree completion.

• $350,000 for a network upgrade on the Morris campus.

• $250,000 additional academic investment on the Crookston campus.

Annual allocations: $8.15 million

• $4 million for new faculty hires, particularly in the STEM fields, the Carlson School of Management and the College of Liberal Arts. This will restore about 20 of the more than 50 faculty lines that are open as a result of budget reductions over the past few years.

• $3.05 million to mitigate impacts of state cuts in the Medical Education & Research Costs (MERC) program, of which $150,000 will be used to restore the Foreign Trainee program within the U’s Medical School. The program helps immigrant doctors qualify to practice in Minnesota.

• $800,000 to restore state cuts and support the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.

• $150,000 to restore state cuts and support the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. This will give about 100 more students access to undergraduate research opportunities. Overall, this program benefits 900 students annually.

• $150,000 to adjust budget reductions in the College of Pharmacy.

These annual and one-time improvements in fiscal year 2012 amount to $18.9 million. The remaining $6.1 million will be reserved for unforeseen state reductions or additional investments in fiscal year 2013. In 2013 there will also be an additional $8.5 million available for strategic investments.

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