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Commentary: University system needs local support on legislative issues

Michelle Behr, a candidate for chancellor at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Minnesota's future belongs to its future leaders, entrepreneurs, thinkers and innovators. At the University of Minnesota, we're investing in those individuals, giving them the tools they need to move our state forward. Students are our state's future, and we take our commitment to our students and to Minnesota seriously.

The University of Minnesota, Morris has a reputation for providing talented students with an outstanding private liberal-arts-college experience at a public college price. That's something we can all be proud of. But I am concerned about our continued ability to deliver on that promise. The state legislative session is well underway, and so far the proposed funding allocations emerging from both the House and the Senate fall far short of the U's requests.

The University of Minnesota's top priority this legislative session is to secure state funding in support of initiatives to enhance the success of our students; deepen our capacity to conduct important high quality research and discovery; and enhance our efforts in community outreach and engagement. These core mission-focused activities benefit all of the citizens of Minnesota. As the university projects a 3.5 percent increase in the costs of these activities, state investment is required to close that gap in funding.

We want to ensure that the University of Minnesota continues to be known as a world class institution. Absent adequate funding from the legislature, the university is considering a significant tuition increase on all of its campuses, including Morris.

I joined the Morris community in February. I have experienced nothing but openness, commitment and generosity from everyone I have met on and off campus. I am so proud to call Morris home. I feel the passion from this community toward our own UMM campus and in moving our state forward. Our university helps keep our community and our region strong and vibrant.

The vibrancy we contribute must not be compromised. Please contact your state legislators. Urge them to support investment in the University of Minnesota. Additional resources mean the impact on tuition can be minimized, educational opportunities will thrive, economic development will continue to flourish and vital research can take place. Your actions are critical for Minnesota's students and families, critical for this community and critical for the future of our state.