Editorial: U of M was key in Borlaug's story

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Norman Borlaug was unique in many ways, but the importance of his U of M education cannot be overstated. Borlaug's modest agrarian roots would have restricted his career choices, but the opportunity to gain a full university education - particularly at an outstanding land grant university providing advanced scientific and technical training - made all the difference. Like other native Minnesotans who have gone into science, I have always found Borlaug's story inspirational. My own research career began as a young Augsburg student working at the U of M Variety Club Heart Hospital on the East River Road. Those experiences were transformational. All Minnesotans - whether they reside in the state or follow their careers elsewhere - should be proud of Norman Borlaug and the University of Minnesota. Peter Agre, MD Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

posted by pagre on Sep. 15, 09 at 5:44 AM | 
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I believe so. No more Norman Borlaug's for you! This state has killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

posted by editor25 on Sep. 15, 09 at 5:58 AM | 
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Back then, there were no community colleges, junior colleges, or large amounts of smaller 4 yr schools to get into. General College back at that time filled a void and it met that void very well. However, that void no longer exists in that same form today. The U no longer needed to spend resources on a secondary level of education within its own school. It is a waste when one can go instead to schools that specialize just in that area, like Inver Hills, Normandale, Century, etc. The U still accepts just as many community and junior college transfers today as they did from GC back in the day. The only difference now is the U doesn't have to waste resources providing for a school that was past its time.

posted by holt0338 on Sep. 15, 09 at 8:26 AM | 
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The loss of General College is right up there with moving to the Dome from Old Memorial Stadium. Both of these mistakes have cost us dearly. There is such a thing as institutional memory - just not in Morrill Hall, apparently. As Mark Yudof put it: "Some would urge the University to pull back on its land-grant responsibilities, to rein in the access programs, to abandon the General College... But at what cost? To save so little and destroy so much? I will not support such efforts. Any short-term gain to research or graduate and professional programs occasioned by cutbacks to the core will be self-defeating." Prophetic words?

posted by wbgleason on Sep. 15, 09 at 8:55 AM | 
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One point to remember is that there are people out there who can contribute to the world in ways we will not even imagine until they show us what they can do. We must keep giving every student who wants to learn and contribute the opportunity. Dr. Borlaug is an example among many of why we cannot focus only on the brilliant students with 1600 SAT scores and full ride scholarship offers. Throughout his career and in many appearances and speeches he emphasized not what he was doing, but what others were also doing. He used to vividly tell stories of graduate students discovering amazing and important new things about plants and nutrition, and how exciting the whole body of work being done was, not just what he himself was doing. We need to follow Dr. Borlaug's lead by encouraging every student to follow their ideas, and support the pure research which trains the minds of tomorrow and which can find the next great innovation.

posted by gardoglee on Sep. 15, 09 at 9:21 AM | 
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It’s ironic seeing the University of Minnesota take such justifiable pride in the accomplishments of their recently deceased alum, Norman Borlaug, while at the same time they betray a public trust by paving over UMore park, a priceless agricultural research facility which could potentially produce the next man or woman to feed the world. An article in the University’s Minnesota Daily quotes University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks, “Norman Borlaug remains one of the University’s most distinguished alumni — a scientist, educator, humanitarian and Nobel laureate whose work made him a hero around the world. He saw the human face of hunger in the world and never strayed from his principles.” Whatever the principles of the President and Board of regents are, they apparently don’t share the principles of Borlaug. Their plans for UMore Park will transform some of the best farmland on the property into suburban sprawl, and relegate the agricultural remnant of the facility to marginal farmland. Their proposed prototype community will inevitably become obsolete the minute they cut the ribbon. Their contractor friends and local government cronies will laugh all the way to the bank and the polls, and future generations are robbed of a priceless resource. The president and board can claim they raise money by this liquidation. This is money “earned” and squandered at one university administration’s instigation -- the equivalent of selling off the fine china and claiming it as income to pay gambling debts. The Federal Government gave UMore Park to the University for a song, as a public trust. Lack of vision and misunderstanding and disrespect of the critical importance of agriculture are the only reasons this resource has not been recognized and developed as a gem in the University’s crown on a par with the Landscape Arboretum. The pinstripe set seems deaf to the wisdom of people in bib overalls and feed caps, even those with PhDs. The U of M Board and administrators apparently don’t see their opportunity and obligation to feed the “human face of hunger in the world,” and don't seem interested in fostering a resource that could help produce future life-saving heirs to the “Father of the Green Revolution.”

posted by rolferd on Sep. 16, 09 at 12:16 PM | 
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How many Nobel laureates went through GC as opposed to the regular, more rigorous curriculum? The state already has an option for students who can't qualify at the University. It's called community college.

posted by garagewine on Sep. 18, 09 at 8:15 PM | 
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