Posted at: 01/22/2014 6:22 PM
By: Jenna Lohse
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- “New University Does Something Radical." That's the title of a recent Forbes Magazine article that says the University of Minnesota Rochester does "just what a college is supposed to do." The article also outlines what sets UMR apart from other universities.
The University of Minnesota Rochester has only been in existence for a little more than five years. But already, its drawing national attention.
"It's been a unique experience,” said UMR student, Thomas Gerhart. A unique experience is exactly what junior Thomas Gerhart was looking for in a university. “I wanted something more interactive and that's kind of where UMR really clicked with me,” he said.
Thomas attended two other Minnesota colleges before sticking with UMR. His reasons for staying align with the so called "radical" ideas outlined in a recent Forbes Magazine article about the university.
"Here at UMR it's very different. The teachers are excited to see you and glad to see that you have questions,” said Gerhart.
One major highlight the magazine says sets UMR apart is the faculty's commitment to student learning. Which means much of the research they do is dedicated to improving results in the learning environment, not the laboratory.
"It's a more integral part of our tenure requirements, that we innovate in the classroom, that we have active learning in the classroom, that we are continually trying to improve our classroom,” said UMR Assistant Professor, Molly Dingel.
"You free them up and encourage them to work as a community, amazing things happen,” said UMR Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle talking about the faculty. Lehmkuhle says creating a university without academic departments and redefining the requirements for tenure are part of the formula for success.
"We built things so that the faculty we're engaged and empowered to work directly with student and express that passion that they have for student development,” said Lehmkuhle.
UMR focuses on training students for the medical field. So it doesn't hurt that it's based in a rich learning community like the Med City, but students like Thomas Gerhart say UMR is not for everyone.
"We all have a vested interest in our future,” said Gerhart. The rigorous course load and focus on new learning techniques attracts students who really care about learning. "It's more than just getting a degree, it's actually getting an education and being prepared for what you want to do,” he said.
UMR has grown five fold since they began classes in 2008. The chancellor is honored with the national recognition, but says there's always room for improvement as students and career fields keep changing.