President Eric Kaler is strongly considering an external review of the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center after receiving the results of a lengthy internal evaluation of its mission, structure and possible inefficiencies.
An executive committee, appointed by former University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks in early 2011, produced a 32-page report that was delivered to Kaler in early November, along with 83 pages of feedback from the University community.
Kaler’s first response came at Thursday’s University senate meeting. In the past 15 years of the AHC’s 40-year history, he said, 10 similar reviews have taken place, and few changes have been made.
“I know there is a certain ‘review fatigue’ that has set in, a fatigue that can only drive cynicism,” Kaler said according to a speech transcript provided to the Minnesota Daily. “Much is at stake. We need to get this right. I need to get this right.”
If Kaler was to make any major, credible changes to the AHC, an external review would be wise, said Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy, who co-chaired the AHC review committee.
Much of the feedback for the review questioned the objectivity of the committee members, many of whom were top-level administrators within the AHC.
“I don’t think endorsing the report as it existed was going to be very satisfactory by the community,” Mulcahy said. “We at the University need to address even the appearance of bias.”
The report contained eight major recommendations, the first stating the AHC should continue to exist.
The next several points dealt with administrative reporting lines, recommending that the AHC should be led by a Vice President for Health Sciences whose sole job is to focus on interdisciplinary education, research and clinical programs. Bruininks combined the position with that of Medical School dean in 2009, putting other health science deans in the position of reporting to their peer.
The report’s last couple points suggested the AHC should continue to support interprofessional centers and provide administrative services that are “essential and unique.”
Along with the contents of the report, 83 pages of feedback largely criticized the review as “unremarkable” and uncritical of what some called the “superstructure” the AHC has become. Its annual budget has grown to $1.4 billion, and 15 interdisciplinary centers or programs have been added to the six colleges that comprised it initially.
A faculty council in the School of Public Health commented that the review contained no business plan or justification for how certain AHC services contribute to its mission and the University.
“Far from examining the question of whether the AHC’s administration has gotten too big and inefficient, the review suggests that the AHC should expand its engagement,” the comment said.
The committee’s recommendation that the AHC deans continue reporting to multiple people was “strange,” wrote an anonymous commenter.
“This neither fish nor fowl arrangement will lead to duplication of authority and confusion,” the comment said.
The AHC’s Faculty Consultative Committee drafted its own response to the review, agreeing with several of its conclusions but saying it was “vague, ambiguous, and lacked transparency.”
The response criticized the review for supporting the status quo without defining what is included in “essential services” and without providing financial or other data to back up their points. The group also said that a lack of “rank and file representation” on the review committee undermined its credibility.
The overall feedback from the AHCFCC indicated the year-long review was a “lost opportunity,” said Colin Campbell, head of the committee, according to November minutes of a Medical School faculty council.
The comment period from the University at large was the most important part of the review process, said Michael Oakes, an associate professor in the School of Public Health who was the only non-administrator on the executive committee.
“It was really excellent that so many distinguished people that love the University had so much to say about things that were said, and frankly, not said.”
Oakes said he’s always considered the review to be a self-study, akin to students assigning themselves grades or faculty members awarding themselves tenure. He has maintained through the review that an outside process will be necessary — a view he said he believes others on the committee also hold.
Nominate an exceptional graduating senior for the upcoming Ski-U-Mah Issue!
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
Minneapolis Used Cars
Give back to the Minnesota community with a boat donation at boat4causes.org.
If you have been involved in a car accident call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free consultation.