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We are chair and vice chairs of the governing board of the University of Minnesota — dedicated volunteers elected by the Legislature to ensure that the university fulfills its mission of education, research and outreach. We live in different Minnesota communities, and our backgrounds and professions vary.

We are different people and we do not always see eye to eye.

But we are strongly united in our unwavering support for the U because it not only educates our state's workforce — including the majority of doctors, dentists, nurses and medical professionals our state needs — but it partners with communities and advances cutting-edge technologies and research to improve lives.

We, along with our colleagues, unanimously approved the university's funding requests to the Legislature: $500 million to assist in the repair, renovations and maintenance of our aging facilities; $80 million to support academic health, and $45 million to hold costs down for our students and pay faculty and staff what they deserve.

The U has served Minnesotans for more than 170 years, but this has not been done alone. For many decades, state investments recognized the significant role the U plays in Minnesota's economic strength and high quality of life. In 1990, Minnesota proudly ranked among the nation's Top 10 for per capita support of higher education. Since then, investment in our students, operations and facilities has fallen drastically. Today, the state provides only 17% of our operating budget. As mentioned in a recent commentary by our faculty, student and employee governance leaders ("Collective bargaining at the U: Legislature should put money where its mouth is," April 4), we have plummeted out of the Top 10 and into the bottom half of the nation.

For example, in the past decade, the university has received just 11% of requested funds for repairs, renovations and maintenance of our aging buildings. As a result, the backlog of deferred maintenance statewide has grown to nearly $6 billion. More than one-quarter of the total square footage our students, faculty and staff use every day is in poor or critical condition, or not usable at all. Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funding would allow the state to get years of additional value on taxpayers' past investments while reducing operating costs that outdated building systems and utilities require, such as the 1950s-era Food Science and Nutrition facility in St. Paul or the Multi-Ethnic Resource Center in Morris, built in 1899, where building systems and spaces are no longer reliable, sustainable or usable.

As a nonprofit public university, our recurring operating fund request will minimize tuition increases for students and families, who should not shoulder the burden of the state's diminishing support. It will also help provide our 27,000 faculty and staff members systemwide with fair compensation and the facilities they need to remain competitive in the workforce. They all deserve support by state leaders.

In addition, as the state's health care needs — including care, workforce and innovation — continue to grow, the state must invest in Minnesota's only public medical school.

Continued partnership between the U, the Legislature and the governor remains essential and something our diverse board endorses. U leaders will gratefully and effectively use any funding received to support students and Minnesota's future. Any state investments now will pay substantial returns for Minnesota for years to come. At the same time, continued underfunding will only increase the difficulty of maintaining the university's commitment to excellence and its statewide mission.

We proudly watch as students enroll at the U five campuses, including roughly 48,000 Minnesota students this year, and celebrate when they return to their home communities as educated professionals and leaders. This is the essence of what a strong partnership can do — significant investments in the University of Minnesota are direct investments in Minnesotans.

From the beginning of the 2024 session, we have been closely watching the Minnesota Legislature carry out its work and have carefully reviewed the capital and supplemental budget proposals from Gov. Tim Walz. As we discuss our needs with elected leaders this legislative session, we urge them to acknowledge and meaningfully reverse the drastic divestment in Minnesota's only public research university.

Janie S. Mayeron is chair of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Douglas A. Huebsch and Mike O. Kenyanya are co-vice chairs.