UMR envisions 'spectacular' future with investments in students, future campus planning

ROCHESTER — Providing a high quality education at an affordable price has been part of the University of Minnesota Rochester’s plan since the four-year university opened in 2009. Before the first class began its first day at UMR, the school established 15 endowed scholarships.

Now, the university is doubling down on its investment in students by launching its first philanthropic campaign, with the goal of raising $5 million for student scholarships and “innovation for student success” by 2025.

Chancellor Lori Carrell, who announced the campaign at the 10-year reunion celebration for UMR’s first graduating class, said the university was in a “quiet phase” for the last year and a half and raised $1.5 million so far.

Evan Doyle, a member of UMR’s first graduating class, appreciated the university’s commitment to minimizing one barrier to education: the cost.

“I think it’s amazing that UMR takes (affordability) really seriously and tries to make college affordable,” he said.


When Doyle, a policy advisor at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Geneva, Switzerland, toured UMR before starting in 2009, he walked through a construction site above the Galleria Mall in downtown Rochester. The school has grown since and now finds itself bursting at the seams as its class sizes continue to grow.

The growth has spurred the university to partner with consultant Sasaki & Associates to complete a new campus facilities plan, which is set to be presented to the Board of Regents around April of 2024. The philanthropic campaign is not directly tied to the facilities plan, but both are “about students,” Carrell said.

“Whatever facilities support (students), that’s what we’re going to do,” she said.

The conversation around the facilities plan will begin in July, and Carrell said UMR is looking for partners, specifically ones that are “in proximity to opportunity at Mayo.” She also was intrigued by a possible partnership with Rochester Public Schools.

“I’m so thrilled with the strategic plan of the school district, and I think we’re very connected around diversity, purpose for young people, well being and mental health,” she said. “So I think that might be a great partnership, but there may be some out there I don’t know about yet.”

Many of the building purchases UMR has made since 2009 are around First Avenue Southwest, near the former Rochester YMCA building. Carrell emphasized that UMR is not leaving downtown Rochester.

“If you think of the Twin Cities campus, and its magnitude, six blocks in any direction is still downtown,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

One southwest Rochester building UMR didn’t purchase was the YMCA building. Carrell called that a “very sad development, because we did have a building and a developer and a plan and a ribbon cutting date that fell through.”


But the loss of that property has vaulted Carrell and UMR to envision bigger opportunities with campus development.

“We want to do something spectacular like that, that’s sustainable and all the good things,” she said. “It’s a new era for sure, in terms of we don’t want to do something traditional.”

Abby Sharpe joined the Post Bulletin in February 2022 after graduating from Arizona State University with a sports journalism degree. She loves sports, ’90s sitcoms, historical fiction and Quentin Tarantino movies. Readers can reach Abby at 507-285-7723 or