University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

TLI sets the record straight on Dr. Dennis Polla


We’ve been receiving a number of inquiries about the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) after a recent Star Tribune article about a member of its faculty. I thought this would be a good opportunity to provide you with some information about our Institute and its value to the State of Minnesota.

The Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) was made possible by a generous donation from the Honeywell Foundation in 1987. Ever since its first day, TLI has been funded 100 percent by the income off this endowment and the tuition of our students. There are no state dollars used for TLI's instructional and support staff salaries and benefits.

The U of M was the first public university in the nation to offer a Master of Science in the Management of Technology, through TLI; our mission is to develop local and global leaders for technology enterprises. It is a Master’s program, comparable to an executive MBA, for those in technology-focused careers. Our MOT graduates play critical roles in Minnesota’s high-tech economy, with 33 percent becoming executives in their companies and an additional 52 percent have management responsibilities. They serve in organizations such as Medtronic, Ecolab, Boston Scientific, Honeywell, 3M, Mn/DOT and many more.

Our newest degree program, the Master of Science in Security Technologies, also helps prepare students to anticipate ever-evolving threats, manage risk and discover new methods of protection. This is a unique program that is helping use technology to better protect our nation.

A recent TLI report highlights students, faculty and the important work of our institute. If you’d like to learn more, I’m happy to discuss with you at any time.

Now, I’d like to specifically address some of the issues raised in the Star Tribune article about TLI faculty member Dennis Polla. It’s unfortunate when important facts are omitted or manipulated in news coverage with the intent of creating a false sense of outrage. That is the case with the March 13th article. Dennis Polla’s service to the U of M and our state is something we should be proud of and that gives us a unique and rich educational experience. Here are the facts:

  • Professor Dennis Polla is a part-time employee of TLI, who teaches courses on Fridays and Saturdays and serves as our director of graduate studies, advising a cohort of about 50 students and interviewing nearly all potential students for the program;

  • Professor Polla is a full-time employee of the federal government -- currently at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and formerly with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is part of the Defense Department. He has the permission of the federal government for his part-time employment at the University;

  • The statement that Prof. Polla lost his tenure is inaccurate. The truth, as noted in our response to all 34 questions from the Star Tribune, is that he voluntarily resigned from his tenured position in 2007 to stay at DARPA;

  • Just last month, Professor Polla received the “Medal for Exceptional Public Service” from the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, which said, “America’s national security is strengthened by his efforts.”;

  • Professor Polla pays his own travel expenses to and from his home state of Minnesota and his federal government workplace in the Washington, DC metropolitan area;

  • The salary paid to Professor Polla is driven by the marketplace for an expert in defense technology and is also less than a scientist of his caliber could make in the private sector. He is an asset to our program and to the educational experience provided at TLI;

  • As an instructor and advisor at TLI, Professor Polla meets and exceeds the requirements of his position, bringing one of the world’s top defense technology experts into our classrooms to educate the next generation of technology industry leaders for Minnesota. Professor Polla received a national teaching award (W.M. Keck Outstanding Engineering Educator Award). In addition he previously received 7 teaching awards in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota.

The U of M’s Technological Leadership Institute is a real success story for the State of Minnesota. Again, if you’d like to learn more about our work, I’d be pleased to meet with you.

Massoud Amin

S. Massoud Amin, D.Sc.
Director, Technological Leadership Institute (TLI)
Honeywell/H.W. Sweatt Chair in Technological Leadership
Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
University Distinguished Teaching Professor

College of Science and Engineering
University of Minnesota
1300 South Second Street, Suite 510
Minneapolis, MN 55454 USA
Phones: 612-625-0557 or 612-624-5747; Fax: 612-624-7510

290 McNamara Alumni Center
200 Oak Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Map ยป

(612) 624-5747

Find Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Watch Us on Google+ Join Us on LinkedIn