Blair Emerson


An interim advocate for grad students

When Sally Kohlstedt took her temporary post as acting vice provost and dean of graduate education last year, she said she wanted to bring optimism in light of the recent restructuring of the University of Minnesota’s Graduate School. In that one year as interim head of the Graduate School, Kohlstedt has implemented a number of initiatives to advocate for University graduate students’ needs.

Lawmakers push for Pell Grant changes

If a group of national lawmakers has its way, some University of Minnesota students could get more help paying for summer classes. As Congress works to renew the Higher Education Act, which expired in January, lawmakers last month proposed a list of initiatives. One initiative would make the federal Pell Grant program more flexible so students could use aid as needed, which some say would help students graduate in a shorter period of time and would better support nontraditional students.

University employees won’t receive benefits for same-sex domestic partners next year

Before professor Benjamin Munson married his partner last summer, the two received University of Minnesota health benefits for being in a same-sex domestic partnership. Munson, a speech, language and hearing sciences professor, was one of 114 employees who received same-sex domestic partner benefits last year. But beginning next January, these employees will no longer be covered by the University. The number of employees receiving this type of coverage has dropped by one-third since Minnesota started recognizing same-sex marriages last August.

Fewer students are working while in college

Fewer college students are working while in school nationwide, despite rising costs and tuition rates. Nationally, about 45 percent of college students reported being employed last year, according to the United States Department of Labor, a figure that’s down about 7 percent from a decade ago. That may be due to a greater number of older adults working, a decrease in job creation and increased competition with high school dropouts, experts say.

GAPSA facing complaint, potential changes

Current and past members of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly are facing allegations of spending the group’s student services fees funding for an allegedly unapproved trip to Washington, D.C.

Veterinary medicine students plan for tuition freeze

University of Minnesota veterinary medicine student Ashley Hall is planning how she’ll pay off her $300,000 student debt once she completes her program. To keep down costs that can be burdensome for students like Hall, the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine will see a tuition freeze this academic year and an 8 percent tuition reduction for senior-year students. Last year, the college’s tuition was $14,247 per term for nine or more credits. Nonresidents paid nearly double that price at $26,480 per term. Those rates will stay frozen through 2014-15.

U to create campus climate survey on sexual assault

Amid an increasingly heated national discussion of sexual assaults on college campuses, the University of Minnesota plans to survey its students on the issue. This spring, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault called for universities and colleges to create campus climate surveys. And Friday, University President Eric Kaler followed suit, saying the school will administer a survey to gauge students’ attitudes and perceptions toward sexual assault.

Student leaders seek to unify University campuses

In their final report of the year, student representatives to the Board of Regents highlighted the need for the University of Minnesota to operate more efficiently as a multi-campus system last week. University administrators often focus too much on the Twin Cities campus, said the student representatives, who would like to see more cross-campus learning opportunities and student events. “I feel like other campuses can sometimes feel dominated by the Twin Cities campus,” said student representatives chair Meghan Mason.

Smith Hall explosion injures one

A small chemical explosion Tuesday afternoon at Smith Hall left one University of Minnesota graduate student injured. University spokesman Chuck Tombarge said the University’s Department of Emergency Management received a call just after 1 p.m. about an explosion on Smith Hall’s fourth floor in a laboratory in the building’s southeast corner. The injured student was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center with serious burns, according to a press release.

Students fight new Regents representative policy

For the second time in less than three months, student representatives to the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents are fighting a recent policy change they say may exclude qualified new leaders. The policy amendments, initially passed in March, mandate that representatives to the board be full-time students with a 2.5 GPA when they’re selected. But now, student representatives are calling for that rule to become more flexible and to consider special cases of part-time graduate students.