The University of Minnesota was founded seven years before Minnesota became a state. The University’s Charter is outlined in Chapter 3 of Minnesota’s 1851 Territorial Laws: “There shall be established in this Territory an Institution, under the name and style of the University of Minnesota. ...”
The Charter specifies: “The government of this University shall be vested in a Board of twelve Regents, who shall be elected by the Legislature.” Later sections delineate specific powers to “enact laws for the government of the University”; “regulate the course of Instruction” and confer degrees and diplomas; regulate and prescribe tuition and fees; and select, manage and control all University lands.
When Minnesota became a state, in 1858, Article VIII, Section 4 of the Minnesota Constitution perpetuated the University’s Charter: “The location of the University of Minnesota, as established by existing laws, is hereby confirmed, and said institution is hereby declared to be the University of the State of Minnesota. All the rights, immunities, franchises and endowments heretofore granted or conferred are hereby perpetuated unto the said university.”
Territorial Laws 1851, Chapter 3
Perpetuated by the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, Article XIII, Section 3.
Chap. III. An act to incorporate the University of Minnesota, at the Falls of St. Anthony.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE TERRITORY OF MINNESOTA, That there shall be established in this Territory an Institution, under the name and style of the University of Minnesota:
Sec. 2. The proceeds of all land that may hereafter be granted by the United States to the Territory for the support of a University, shall be and remain a perpetual fund, to be called the "University Fund," the interest of which shall be appropriated to the support of a University, and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed in such a University.
Sec. 3. The object of the University shall be to provide the inhabitants of this Territory with the means of acquiring a thorough knowledge of the various branches of Literature, Science and the Arts.
Sec. 4. The government of this University shall be vested in a Board of twelve Regents, who shall be elected by the Legislature as hereinafter provided.
Sec. 5. The members of the Board of Regents shall be elected at the present session of the Legislature, and shall be divided into classes, numbered one, two, and three; class numbered one shall hold their offices for two years; class numbered two, for four years, and class numbered three, for six years, from the first Monday of February, one thousand, eight hundred and fifty one; biennially thereafter there shall be elected in Joint Convention of both branches of the Legislature, four members to supply the vacancies made by the provisions of this section, and who shall hold their offices for six years respectively.
Sec. 6. Whenever there shall be a vacancy in the office of Regents of the University, from any cause whatever, it shall be the duty of the Governor to fill such office by appointment, and the person or persons so appointed, shall continue in office until the close of the session of the Legislature, then next thereafter, and until others are elected in their stead.
Sec. 7. The Regents of the University and their successors in office, shall constitute a body corporate, with the name and style of the "Regents of the University of Minnesota," with the right as such, of suing and being sued, of contracting and being contracted with, of making and using a common seal, and altering the same at pleasure.
Sec. 8. The Regents shall appoint a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Librarian, who shall hold their respective offices during the pleasure of the Board. It shall be the duty of the Secretary to record all the proceedings of the Board and carefully to preserve all its books and papers; the Treasurer shall keep a true and faithful account of all moneys received and paid out by him, and shall give such bonds for the faithful performance of the duties of his office as the Regents may require.
Sec. 9. The Regents shall have power, and it shall be their duty to enact laws for the government of the University; to elect a Chancellor, who shall be ex-officio, President of the Board of Regents, or when absent, or previous to the election of such Chancellor, the Board may appoint one of their own number President pro. tem. They may also appoint the requisite number of professors and tutors and such other officers as they may deem expedient- also to determine the amount of their respective salaries: Provided, That the salaries thus determined, shall be submitted to the Legislature for their approval or dissent.
Sec. 10. The University shall consist of five Departments: The Department of Science, Literature and the Arts: The Department of Law: The Department of Medicine: The Department of the theory and practice of Elementary Instruction: The Department of Agriculture. The immediate government of the several Departments shall be entrusted to their respective Faculties; but the Regents shall have power to regulate the course of Instruction, and prescribe under the advice of the Professorships, the books and authorities to be used in the several Departments, and also to confer such degrees and grant such diplomas as are usually conferred by other Universities.
Sec. 11. The Regents shall have power to remove any officer connected with the Institution, when in their judgment the interest of the University requires it.
Sec. 12. The admission fee to the University and the charges for tuition in the several Departments thereof, shall be regulated and prescribed by the Board of Regents; and as soon as in their opinion, the income of the University fund will permit, tuition in all of the Departments shall be without charge to all students in the same, who are residents of the Territory.
Sec. 13. The University of Minnesota, shall be located at or near the Falls of Saint Anthony, and the Regents as soon as they may deem expedient, shall procure a suitable site for the erection of the University buildings, and they may proceed to the erection of the same as soon as funds may be provided for that purpose, after such plan or plans as may be approved by a majority of said Board.
Sec. 14. The Regents shall have the power, and it shall be their duty, as soon as the requisite funds shall have been secured for that purpose, to establish a Preparatory Department of said University, and employ teachers for the same, who shall be qualified to give instruction in all the branches of learning usually taught in Academies; which Preparatory Department may be discontinued whenever the Regents may think proper, after the other Departments of said University shall have been established.
Sec. 15. The Regents are authorized to expend such portions of the fund, which by the provisions of this act, may come under their control, as they may deem expedient for the erection of suitable buildings, and the purchase of apparatus, a Library, and a Cabinet of Natural History; and the selection, management and control of all lands, which may hereafter be granted by Congress for the endow- ment of said University, is hereby vested in the Board of Regents.
Sec. 16. The Regents shall make a report annually, to the Legislature at its regular session, exhibiting the state and progress of the University in its several Departments, the course of study, the number of professors and students, the amount of expenditures and such other information as they may deem proper, or may from time to time be required of them.
Sec. 17. Meetings of the Board may be called by any seven members thereof at such time and place as they may deem expedient, and a majority of the said Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, but a smaller number may adjourn from time to time.
Sec. 18. The Regents, if they shall deem it expedient, may receive into connection with the University, any college within the Territory, upon application of the Board of Trustees; and such college so received, shall become a branch of the University, and be subject to the visitation of the Regents.
Sec. 19. No religious tenets or opinions shall be required to entitle any person to be admitted as a student in said University; and no such tenets or opinions shall be required as a qualification for any professor, tutor or officer of said University.
Sec. 20. The Legislative Assembly may at any time, alter, amend, modify or repeal this act.
Historical Note—See State v. Chase, 175 M. Z59, 220 N. W. 951; State v. Quinlivan, 198 M. 65, 268 N. W. 858.
The Minnesota Constitution
School Funds, Education and Science
University of Minnesota—location confirmed. SEC. 4. The location of the University of Minnesota, as established by existing laws, is hereby confirmed, and said institution is hereby declared to be the University of the State of Minnesota. All the rights, immunities, franchises and endowments heretofore granted or conferred are hereby perpetuated unto the said university; and all lands which may be granted hereafter by Congress, or other donations for said university purposes, shall vest in the institution referred to in this section.
The Minnesota Constitution was last amended in 1974. The language to incorporate Chapter 3 of the Territorial Laws of 1851 into the Constitution is as follows:
Article XIII, Section 3
SEC. 3. All the rights, immunities, franchises and endowments heretofore granted or conferred upon the University of Minnesota are perpetuated unto the university.