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Seeking New Start, Finding Steep Cost Workforce Investment Act Leaves Many Jobless and in Debt (The New York Times)

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Professor Obama Grades U.S. Colleges, Finds It Tests Him The Education Department, charged by President Barack Obama to create a system rating more than 5,000 campuses on graduation rates, student debt and other outcomes, is finding that calibrating the metrics is complicated. The agency has delayed unveiling a draft until the fall, months later than planned. (Bloomberg via NAICU)

Why race-based affirmative action in college admissions still matters It is one thing to seek alternatives to race-based affirmative action that approximate affirmative action’s goals. It is quite another to defend such alternatives as the most desirable policy, to suggest that preferences for students from socio-economically disadvantaged families are superior to preferences for African Americans. (The Washington Post)

The Future of College? A brash tech entrepreneur thinks he can reinvent higher education by stripping it down to its essence, eliminating lectures and tenure along with football games, ivy-covered buildings, and research libraries. What if he’s right? (The Atlantic)

How Long Does Med School Need to Take? Should we be trying to get doctors thorough medical school faster? (Washington Monthly)

A record number of out-of-state students brings windfall for UC system More than a fifth of all UC freshmen will come from such places as Texas, Washington, China and India and each will pay an additional $23,000 in tuition, providing the system with an estimated $400 million in extra revenue that officials say helps support the education of Californians. (Los Angeles Times)

Africa, With U.S. Help, Graduates More Doctors An ambitious United States government project to strengthen medical education in sub-Saharan Africa is reporting broad progress in addressing the continent’s critical shortages of physicians and health care workers. (The New York Times)

Build it back up (MPR Photo / Alex Friedrich)

In an attempt to revitalize the University of Minnesota Medical School, Gov. Mark Dayton today established a committee to suggest ways to bring it back to its former glory.

The move comes after years of decline in med-school rankings as well as a recent review that says the institution, though strong, has suffered from staff discontent.

Dayton says he wants to raise the school’s national prominence, beef up research, expand clinical services and address the state’s need for health care workers.

“I see a tremendous opportunity for us to be one of the meccas in the country and even the world for medical technology, development and advances, and medical innovations,” Dayton said.

Over the past few years, the U has hit a few bumps — and Higher Education Commissioner Larry Pogemiller says Dayton has noticed.

A 2012 external review said the school was strong, but was suffering from a “malaise.” And its ranking in the amount of National Institute of Health funding it receives, though on the rise, is below what it was in 1970.

Earlier this week, Dayton told MPR News the school was among the eighth best in the country when he applied as a pre-med student in the late 1960s, but that it has dropped considerably since then.

The governor said the state needs to reverse direction and take advantage of the state’s health-care resources:

“If we build that medical school back to its national preeminence and pair that with [the Mayo Clinic], the synergy will be incredible.”

Pogemiller, who is one of the committee members, says university leaders are already addressing concerns raised in the 2012 review.

He says his committee will go beyond that:

“What could outside stakeholders do to be useful? That’s, I think, the approach we’ll take. We absolutely don’t want to try to get into the internal business of the university.”

One of the main areas the committee will analyze, Pogemiller said, is how to boost the school’s research standings.

He pointed to major breakthroughs — the world’s first open-heart surgery, the invention of the portable pacemaker, and the first successful bone-marrow transplant — that propelled the school to prominence in past decades.

The governor, Pogemiller said, “thinks it would be good for Minnesota to get back there. … Having a world-renowned medical school is good for Minnesota and good for society.”

In recent months, university officials have also expressed concern over the affordability of medical school – along with professional education in general — because of ever-rising tuition. The school is the third most expensive in the country.

They’ve also warned of a coming shortage of doctors in Minnesota and the rest of the country. Limited federal funding has created a cap on the number of residencies, which medical-school graduates need to become physicians.

Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), chairwoman of the state Senate higher-education committee, has said she and other lawmakers are looking for other ways to fund more residencies for Minnesota.

Pogemiller said those concerns will likely be addressed.

Dr. Brooks Jackson, another panelist and the new dean of the U’s medical school, was away at a conference Friday. But in a press release, he wrote that he welcomed the governor’s work:

“If we are truly going to live up to our potential as a top tier medical school, we will need to make smart investments to enhance our research capabilities, and to support the education and training that will bring the best possible care to patients throughout the state.”

Jackson became dean early this year. When he was chosen, the U noted that under his leadership, the Johns Hopkins pathology department went from fifth to first nationwide in NIH funding.

The governor’s panel is made up of more than a dozen medical faculty and administrators, state officials and health-care executives:

Dayton says they’ll suggest specific policy and budget changes for next year’s legislative session.

MPR reporter Tom Scheck contributed to this report.

Here’s this morning’s announcement, which contains the names of those on the panel:

Read more

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