Over 500 supporters from around the state attended Wednesday evening’s 2011 Legislative Briefing at the University of Minnesota McNamara Almuni Center. The U of MN Alumni Association organized the event and made it available to supporters at Crookston, Duluth, and Morris campuses by providing live webcasts.
Participants took “Because” pictures, which will be sent to the individuals legislators, and are also accompanied with post cards promoting the funding of higher education.
Members of the school’s board of regents were also in attendance and the audience was welcomed by an opening speech by the U of MN Alumni Association National Board of Directors Chair Ertugrul Tuzcu. Earlier in the day Pres. Robert H. Bruininks testified before a MN State Senate panel, to bring awareness to the importance of funding higher education for the continuing development of the state and global economy.
The U of MN is a public institution that relies on state funding to provide proper resources to its students (on five different campuses) and funding for research projects it conducts. The state faces a $6.2 billion deficit, which directly affects state funding that the U of MN receives. The school has already been faced with losses of state funding and has been forced to make deep budget cuts.
The message was made personal when ’02 alumnus and Wellstone Action Native American Leadership Program Director Peggy Flanagan shared her personal U of MN story. She spoke to the audience about how nothing was expected from her growing up and how it caused her not to expect much from herself.
Flanagan is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota. She also served on the Minneapolis School Board in 2004 and was the first Native American to serve on that body.
Flanagan began college at St. Cloud State University, but knew something was missing. She was first exposed to the U of MN through the school’s extension program. She said that “It was the University of Minnesota that allowed me to find out who I was and find my purpose.” After Flanagan’s experience with the extension program, she transferred to the U of MN, and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
The school currently has 67,000 students and offers more than 370 degree programs. The U of MN is a state land-grant university and the only research institution in Minnesota. Pres. Bruininks left the audience with a quote from Aristotle, that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,” a habit of excellence that the University of Minnesota embodies.