University of Minnesota Alumni Association

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Up Front

Stories from around the U of M

River Dreams
Bodies of water exert a powerful influence on all Minnesota. That includes the UMN Twin Cities campus, which straddles both sides of the mighty Mississippi on its East and West Bank. Here members of the rowing team compete in the Head of the Mississippi Regatta.
Photo Credit: Christopher Mitchell

U of M Celebrates Incoming Freshmen 

Approximately 6,700 first-year students formed the Block M during the 2022 Pride and Spirit event in August.

This year’s incoming first-year class, the University’s 171st, is the second-largest freshman class in the past 55 years, with 6,700 first-year students. It is also the University’s most racially and ethnically diverse, with 34 percent of students identifying as members of a BIPOC community. 

In addition, nearly 7 in every 10 students are from Minnesota.

U of M Twin Cities Ranks No. 23 in U.S. News and World Report

The U of M’s status as one of the nation’s most exceptional and accessible universities was solidified recently in the 2023 U.S. News and World Report rankings. 

 The University’s Twin Cities campus was ranked No. 23—the highest in 12 years. Among all 440 institutions (public and private) considered for the National Universities category, the U of M Twin Cities improved by six places from last year, from No. 68 to No. 62, placing the campus among the top 15 percent of all ranked universities. 

Among the most referenced collegiate rankings in the world, the U.S. News and World Report standings are specifically mentioned in the University’s systemwide strategic plan, MPact 2025, which includes a goal for the Twin Cities campus to be ranked among the nation’s top 25 public schools.

Ruggles Receives ‘Genius Grant’

Photo Credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Steven Ruggles, left, Regents Professor of History and Population Studies and director of the Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation at the U of M, has been named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Commonly known as the Genius Grant, the fellowship is regarded as one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for intellectual and artistic achievement. 

Ruggles is known for building the world’s largest publicly available database of population statistics—IPUMS—a tool for comparative research across time and space. 

Ruggles’s scholarship on changes in family composition and living arrangements in the U.S. has analyzed the decline of multigenerational households and the rise of single parenthood and divorce. To investigate these and other changing characteristics of the population over decades and centuries, Ruggles required massive quantities of individual and household-level census data from manuscript collections dating back to the mid-19th century. 

To provide researchers with free and easy access to harmonized data, Ruggles launched IPUMS at the University in 1991. Today, IPUMS includes U.S. census data from 1790 to 2021, as well as international census and survey data from 157 countries spanning from 1703 to the present. 

The MacArthur Fellowship is a recognition of Ruggles’s career and is intended to encourage his creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. The award carries an $800,000 stipend, paid in quarterly installments over five years, with no strings attached. The Foundation typically selects 20 to 30 fellows annually, prioritizing creative individuals with a track record of unique accomplishments.

Ongoing Safety Enhancements

As part of ongoing safety efforts, the U of M is currently running a pilot program until Dec. 31 called Dinkytown Alerts. The alerts are designed to enhance communication with the campus community about safety in a limited area of Dinkytown. The pilot began on September 9. 

These alerts are separate from SAFE-U Notifications, which alert the campus community to crime that has occurred on or immediately adjacent to campus. That program is a partnership between the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the City of Minneapolis. 

Dinkytown Alerts are only sent when the University’s police department, the UMPD, receives verified information from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) about an active situation. Dinkytown Alerts cover areas that are off campus and not the primary jurisdiction of UMPD. These alerts are not required by law, and UMPD receives them from the MPD as a courtesy. 

The alerts notify the campus community to take immediate action or avoid an area. Crimes that are considered for a Dinkytown Alert are robbery, aggravated assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, homicide, and an active shooter. The alerts cover the area east of 35W, south of 8th Street SE, and northwest of the East Bank campus. 

Students, faculty, and staff must opt in to receive these alerts through text, phone, or email. Parents, family, or community members who wish to sign up for Dinkytown Alerts must download the SAFE-U Notifications app from Everbridge ( and enter the keyword UMNDINKYTOWN (case sensitive) to subscribe to alerts. 

Following completion of the pilot, the University will evaluate next steps. 

Those who want a more comprehensive set of notifications in Dinkytown or other neighborhoods in Minneapolis can sign up for alerts through the MPD at

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