University of Minnesota
- This article is about the oldest and largest campus of the University of Minnesota. For a description of the system at large, see University of Minnesota system.
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system. Its student body is the second-largest in the United States according to autumn 2004 statistics, with 50,954 students (behind Ohio State University's campus in Columbus).
When originally built in 1851, the Minneapolis campus overlooked the Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River, but it was later moved about a mile downstream to its current location. That site is now marked by a small park known as Chute Square at the intersection of University Avenue and Central Avenue. The school shut down following a financial crisis during the American Civil War, and didn't reopen until 1867. It was upgraded from a preparatory school to a college in 1869.
Today's campus has buildings on both banks of the river, but the East Bank is the main portion of the campus and covers 307 acres. It contains six residence halls (the University administration believes the terms "dorm" and "dormitory" have negative connotations), and four of them are concentrated into a 4-city-block space known as the "Superblock." Next to the Superblock is a large medical complex, now merged with the Fairview system of clinics and hospitals.
The historical center of the Minneapolis campus is Northrop Mall, a green space located about four blocks away from the Superblock. It was based on a design by Cass Gilbert, although his plans were too extravagant to be fully implemented. Several of the campus's primary buildings surround the Mall. Northrop Auditorium provides a northern anchor, with Coffman Memorial Union to the south. Four of the larger buildings on the sides of the Mall are the primary mathematics, physics, and chemistry buildings, and Walter Library, which has recently been renovated to focus more on digital media rather than the printed word.
Additionally, the East Bank has a few buildings with unique architecture worth mentioning. The Armory north east of the Northrop Mall is built like a Norman castle, with a sally port entrance facing Church St., and a tower originally intended to be the Professor of Military Science's residence, until it was found to be too cold. It originally held the athletics department as well as the military science classes that it now holds. One of the oldest buildings on campus is the Pillsbury Hall, built out of varieties of sandstone available in Minnesota. It has a unique color that is hard to capture in a photograph. In more recent times, Frank Gehry designed the Weisman Art Museum. It is a small example of his work with curving metallic structures.
The West Bank of the campus has been growing rapidly, first seeing major development in the 1960s. It covers 53 acres. Music, theater, and art students cannot pass through the University without spending a significant amount of time there. In addition to the arts, social science is a big area of research on the West Bank. The business school (Carlson School of Management) calls the West Bank home, as does the University's law school. Wilson Library, the largest library in the University system, is also located there. Visitors to the West Bank will no doubt notice Middlebrook Hall, the largest residence hall on campus. Approximately 900 students reside in the building named in honor of William T. Middlebrook.
Students traveling between the East and West Banks will most likely use the Washington Avenue Bridge either on foot or via bus. This bridge is unique because it has two separate decks. The lower deck carries automobile traffic, while the upper deck is a pedestrian walkway. An enclosed walkway runs the length of the bridge, sheltering students from the wind, rain, and snow as they cross the Mississippi.
There are some subterranean passageways that students use to get from building to building when the weather is harsh. It is an ungainly network of circuitous routes that are confusing and don't always connect. Many people don't even know they exist. However, in recent years, effort has been made to map out these tunnels, and directions are now marked with signs reading, "The Gopher Way".
The University's St. Paul campus is actually located north of the city of St. Paul, surrounded by the suburb of Falcon Heights. The campus is primarily associated with agriculture, and has a suburban setting. However, the University has some farm fields around it. It is by far the quieter campus. It has a grassy mall of its own and can be seen as a bit of a retreat from the busier Minneapolis campus.
Students have commuted between the two sites for many decades. Early on, a streetcar line between the campuses was established, but it went away along with the rest of the area's trolleys in the 1950s. Buses were used from then on, and a busway was created in 1992 to improve the speed between campuses. Unfortunately, the rate of collisions was fairly high with 32 crashes piling up over the years. So, in 1997, new stop signs were added that would illuminate when a bus, bicycle, or pedestrian was approaching an intersection along the corridor. As of 2002, no additional accidents had been reported.
The St. Paul campus also borders the fairgrounds where the Minnesota State Fair is held every year. Minnesota's Fair is one of the largest in the United States, usually lasting twelve days, from late August through Labor Day in early September. Because of the heavy traffic associated with the Fair, classes do not start on either campus until after it is over (the Fair also makes extensive use of the Minneapolis campus parking).
Main article: Minnesota Golden Gophers
Sports teams associated with the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota go by the Golden Gophers moniker. The Gophers are members of the Big Ten Conference and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in the NCAA. Most of the facilities that the teams use for training and competitive play are located on the East Bank of the Minneapolis campus. There are arenas for male and female basketball (Williams Arena) as well as hockey (Mariucci Arena).
The school has held recent national championships in men's hockey (2002 and 2003), women's hockey (2004 and 2005), wrestling (2002), and men's golf (2002). In addition, the men's basketball team reached the NCAA Final Four in 1997 , but this feat has since been erased from official NCAA records after a much-publicized scandal involving team members having papers and other assignments written for them by a secretly-hired professor at the coach Clem Haskins' request. The women's basketball team made it to the Final Four in 2004. Also in 2004, the Volleyball team made it to the NCAA championship game against Stanford.
There used to be a football stadium on campus, but the football team started playing at the Metrodome near downtown Minneapolis when that dome was constructed. Memorial Stadium was torn down and the area has since been developed with other University buildings, though it is still known as "stadium village." As of 2005, there is major ongoing discussion trying to determine if a stadium to be named TCF Bank Stadium will be built on campus.
The newspaper is The Minnesota Daily, which is printed each weekday during the normal school season, going to a weekly production during the summer. The Daily is operated by an organization of students, not by the university; it claims to be the largest student-run paper in the United States. It was first published on May 1, 1900.
The campus radio station is KUOM "Radio K"; it broadcasts during the day on 770 kHz AM. Its 5000-watt signal has a range of 80 miles. Due to FCC regulations, it shuts down at dusk. In 2003, the station began switching to a low-power (8 watt) signal on 106.5 MHz FM overnight and on weekends. Because of the limited range, Radio K also streams its content over the Internet. With roots in experimental transmissions that began before World War I, the station received the first AM broadcast license in the state on January 13, 1922 and began broadcasting as WLB, changing to the KUOM call sign about two decades later. The station had an educational format up until 1993 when it merged with a smaller campus-only music station. A small group of full-time employees oversee the station, while most of the on-air talent consists of student volunteers.
Some television programs made on campus have been broadcast on local PBS station KTCI channel 17. Several episodes of Great Conversations have been made since 2002, featuring one-on-one discussions between university faculty and experts brought in from around the world. Tech Talk is a show meant to help people who feel intimidated by modern technology, including cellular phones and computers.
By far the largest institution of higher education in the state, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities offers degree programs in almost all fields, from agriculture to modern dance. Colleges include the College of Liberal Arts, the Carlson School of Management, the College of Biological Sciences, the College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Sciences, the Medical School, the College of Natural Resources, and the Institute of Technology (which hosts the Charles Babbage Institute, a noted center for the history of information technology). The University has all three branches of the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
A number of U of M graduate school departments have been ranked in the nation's top twenty by the National Research Council:
- (1) Chemical Engineering
- (3) Geography
- (7) Psychology
- (8) Mechanical Engineering
- (10) Economics
- (11) German
- (11) Statistics/Biostatistics
- (12) Aerospace Engineering
- (13) Civil Engineering
- (13) Political Science
- (14) Mathematics
- (15) Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
- (17) Materials Science
- (18) Biomedical Engineering
- (18) Electrical Engineering
- (20) Pharmacology
Minnesota weather can be harsh, and the weather on campus is no exception. In the winter, temperatures in the region sometimes dip below −20°F (−29°C), with wind chills perhaps −60°F (−51°C) or lower. Large amounts of snow can fall as well, but the University's Facilities Management team is very proactive about clearing snow quickly.
It is extremely rare for the University as a whole to have unscheduled closings. Classes were canceled for half a day on September 11, 2001, but the last time the campus had a weather-related closing was January 18, 1994 when then-Governor Arne Carlson ordered the shutdown of state government services throughout Minnesota during a period of extreme cold. However, many individual classes will be canceled by professors and teaching assistants during any given year, and evening courses are not held when Minnesota holds political caucuses.
While Minnesota is known for having cold winters, hot summers also occur in the region, and weather varies on a daily basis. The Minneapolis campus largely uses steam heat in the winter and chilled water for cooling in summer, but the campus staff always takes a gamble that weather trends will continue when transitioning between the two modes in spring and fall.
One of the main heating plants is located near the Stone Arch Bridge across from downtown. In the first half of the 20th century, it provided electricity for the regional system of streetcars operated by Twin City Rapid Transit and is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of that (of course, there are several other registered buildings on campus). It was converted to provide steam after the University acquired it in 1976. When the temperature gets cold, four railroad cars worth of coal can be required each day to keep the campus heated.
Notable faculty, staff, students, and alumni
- University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
- The Minnesota Daily
- Community Website
- Radio K
- Great Conversations
- Tech Talk
- University of Minnesota Press
- Lori-Anne Williams and Aaron Strozinsky (September 2004). U Buildings At-a-Glance. University Services, University of Minnesota.
- Standard Survey Response 1997. University of Minnesota Office of Institutional Research and Reporting.
- NRC Ratings in each of the 41 Areas Texas A&M University.