Thursday, April 1, 2010

And he will remain so throughout the remaining month of the term..

Perhaps he did not want to take questions publicly from people like these?

From the Daily:

On March 25, the Faculty Senate voted 130-26 to accept a temporary pay cut on the terms proposed by University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks. While on the surface it may appear that those who voted yes did the right thing by agreeing to take a very modest cut, the story of how this outcome was achieved is far less salutary.

Bruininks’ plan calls for reducing all faculty salaries by 1.15 percent, with an additional 1.15 percent reduction for senior administrators, while reducing staff compensation through mandatory furloughs. Together these cuts are projected to yield savings of $18.5 million, amounting to less than 1 percent of the University’s total budget. Many faculty have objected to this plan on the grounds that 1) uniform cuts are inherently regressive, 2) such cuts do nothing to remedy the University’s worsening financial situation over the long term, and 3) massive amounts of money continue to be spent in ways that contribute little to the academic mission.

Therefore, several faculty (ourselves included) brought forward two alternative motions. The first called upon the administration to provide complete budgetary information, justifying each expenditure in relation to the University’s core mission; this motion was tabled for future discussion. The second demanded any cuts to employee compensation be implemented on a sliding scale, so those earning the most would take the largest cuts while those earning the least would suffer no cuts at all.

Both motions received substantial support, even from senators who also asserted their support for Bruininks’ plan. Why, after all, would anyone argue that the administration’s stewardship of financial resources should be exempt from scrutiny? Why wouldn’t top earners be willing to take a larger cut in order to help sustain the University?

No principled argument for uniform salary cuts was presented. Bruininks himself argued sliding-scale cuts would encourage the best faculty to engage in “job-seeking behavior” — implicitly identifying the best as those who are paid the most.

Others argued for voting in favor of Bruininks’ proposal because otherwise we would be portrayed as selfish elitists unwilling to sacrifice for the common good. Nevermind that our proposal would require many faculty to take larger cuts than the president’s plan would. Resolutions by the senate are nonbinding. If the senate voted down the president’s proposal and instead passed the resolution requiring sliding-scale cuts, Bruininks could just ignore it, imposing deeper cuts on academic units to make up for not cutting faculty salaries, thus causing more layoffs. Bruininks had emphasized his was the only plan he would consider.

We voted against Bruininks’ proposal because we believe any plan to cut employee compensation should be equitable rather than regressive. We reject the argument that the University will lose its “best” faculty if a sliding-scale cut is imposed. Meanwhile, we believe the citizens of Minnesota can understand spending must be cut judiciously to preserve the University’s integrity. The administration's bullying of faculty is of a piece with its diversion of resources away from our core academic mission.

Eva von Dassow, Karen-Sue Taussig, University faculty

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