GRAD STUDENTS

They contribute more than they cost the U

The Star Tribune's July 8 story "U's graduate programs face 'right-sizing' in tough times" suggests that graduate students are "expensive" for the university.

As one of the more than 4,000 graduate students who provide core functions at the U -- running classrooms and labs, working on committees, advising students -- I was a little surprised to hear this.

Working as a graduate instructor, I made about $16,000 last year. I taught fall, spring and summer. That means I taught about 75 tuition-paying students, which unquestionably brings in far more money to the U than my measly salary takes away, even if you include my health insurance.

The issue of the work done by graduate students is complicated. But any analysis of the university that doesn't take into consideration the amount of the U's core functions -- teaching and research -- that graduate students accomplish is missing the point.

Without the "expense" of keeping us around, who would teach or advise the students, keep the labs going or collect the data? We aren't a cost; we are the University of Minnesota.

NICHOLAS HENGEN, GRADUATE INSTRUCTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

TOM EMMER

Offensive sign tells us little about candidate

Rep. Tom Emmer gave a speech 20 feet from a guy holding a sign reading, "MN Zoo has an African lion. DC zoo has a lyin' African" ("Riding a new populist wave," July 4).

Distasteful sign, but is it really an example of how Emmer's antigovernment and anti-illegal-immigrant beliefs may turn off moderates? It strikes me as an effort to paint Emmer as an extremist and racist with the words of some random loon.

If Emmer is so extreme and racist, why not give an example from his speech? That may actually provide some real insight regarding the candidate.

JAMES WAWRZYN, MINNETONKA

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Rep. Emmer's 20-city listening tour may be a nice gesture to voters, but shouldn't he have done his listening already and formulated his vision before starting a statewide race?

I would expect someone in contention to be our next governor to already have some inkling of what he wanted to do in office.

I question Emmer's fitness for office is he's waiting until October to unveil a more specific plan of where he would lead us.

LANCE GOLDSBERRY, MINNEAPOLIS

KEILLOR'S LEAVE

He'll be missed by some

readers, but not by all

Living for the last 50-odd years on the borders of Anoka, I have found myself taking the words of Garrison Keillor more and more. Time after time, he has put into parlance thoughts that had no doubt been circulating in the peripheries of my own mind. Ah, to have such heart and talent!

But now that he will be taking a leave, I will have to search for another thought/word guide. His July 4 column ("Off to camp: A big deal from every angle") was just the ideal sayonara. Thank you, Garrison. You will be greatly missed!

BETH DHENNIN, COON RAPIDS

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Gleefully I read that Keillor will be sparing us of his wit for a spell to be an entrepreneur (finish a screenplay and begin a novel). Hey, Mr. Keillor, take some time and reflect on how bad the current occupant is doing in the White House. Check out the record deficits he has piled up. Take a look at "Obamacare'' while you're at it. Maybe the time away from the weekly "grind" of writing a column will clear those cobwebs, and you'll see the light and join the rest of the other scouts here on earth who see this current administration for what it is: a huge failure.

AARON KUBASCH, WINSTED, MINN.

Rolnick's Rx

Include health care fix with early ed programs

Lori Sturdevant's column telling of Art Rolnick's emphasis on early education was excellent ("Six bullet points for state success,'' July 4). Can we also stress the importance of health care for the thousands of children who do not have it? If hearing problems, sight problems, malnutrition and other health problems can be detected early, many children will be better able to learn and accomplish up to their abilities.

GRACE WIGGEN, COLUMBIA HEIGHTS

Messy surgery

Oil spill cleanup isn't a cure for the cause

From a surgeon's perspective, the handling of the Gulf oil spill is much the same as skimming blood off the floor while the patient continues to bleed.

DR. THOMAS P. VAN BRUGGEN, WADENA, MINN.