University of Minnesota Alumni Association

Up Front

Up Front

Good Cheer, U of M Unveils Sustainability, SKI-U-MAH for Gopher Scholars, Proposed Health System Merger Called Off

As a new school year begins and the U of M sports teams kick off their seasons, the cheer squad gets ready to bring pumped-up maroon and gold spirit to fans everywhere.


limate change, one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, is already affecting communities and ecosystems in Minnesota and around the world. 

That’s why the U of M is taking aggressive action to meet its climate goals as quickly as possible. In 2021, the University created a systemwide strategic plan, MPact 2025, which identifies “building a fully sustainable future” as a core commitment for the University. 

Now, the U of M Twin Cities has released a new Climate Action Plan that looks toward the future of carbon neutrality and resilience on campus. It builds on the University’s history of sustainability leadership and recommends new actions to eliminate carbon emissions as quickly as possible to adapt to a changing climate. The CAP aims to reduce U of M Twin Cities emissions 60 percent (from 2019 levels) by 2033 and to become completely carbon neutral by 2050.

Along with the blueprint for eliminating campus greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the plan includes a 10-year horizon outlining specific actions that need to be achieved by 2033. That includes reducing energy use on campus; supplying more of the campus’s energy needs from renewable sources; and rightsizing and electrifying campus fleet vehicles. It also includes the University’s first climate vulnerability and strength assessment, which will be a foundation for future resiliency planning.

More than 3,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members helped develop the plan, which was led by the Twin Cities Sustainability Committee and the Office of Sustainability.

“Our campus community and state overwhelmingly agree that climate change is a critical area of focus, and we know the costs of inaction far outweigh the investment needed to build a sustainable future,” says the U of M’s first Chief Sustainability Officer Shane Stennes, who leads the Office of Sustainability. “Business as usual will not achieve the transformational results we need.”

You can learn more and see full details of the plan at

SKI-U-MAH for Gopher Scholars!

Gopher Athletics Director Mark Coyle recognized the nation-leading academic achievements of Gopher student-athletes collectively before the U of M Board of Regents in July. The students hold a cumulative grade-point average of 3.4 and a graduation rate of 94 percent—giving the department its best graduation success rates of all time in each of the past five years. Last year, the department had:

  • 318 Academic All-Big Ten honorees
  • 115 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars
  • 9 Academic All-Americans
  • 56 Academic All-District selections (a campus-record)

Across the varsity programs it sponsors, Gopher Athletics led the Big Ten in Academic All-Americans and tied for seventh nationally.

Proposed Health System Merger Called Off

In late July, representatives announced that the proposed merger between Fairview Health Services, the U of M’s medical partner, and South Dakota-based Sanford Health, would not go forward.

The merger drew political concerns, as well as questions about the U of M’s critical relationship with its health services and teaching hospital. It was the second time the two entities proposed a merger, with the first effort failing in 2013. The University sold its hospital to Fairview in 1997.

The U of M said, “As we move forward from here, we remain focused on our public mission to provide high quality, innovative, and leading-edge care to patients across Minnesota, and how we can best support access to world-class health care for the entire state.”

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who conducted an investigation into the potential merger, told the Star Tribune on July 27 that “While this merger will not be going forward, the health and future of Fairview, the University of Minnesota health care facilities, and all Minnesota health systems are of vital interest to all Minnesotans. Much work remains to be done.”

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