Friday, January 11, 2013

The Pioneer Press Has always punched above its weight...

U to Hire Outside Consultant

to do Preliminary Assessment Requested

by State Legislature

The University of Minnesota will hire an outside consultant to review its administrative structure and costs, President Eric Kaler announced Friday, Jan. 11.

The decision comes two days after Kaler received a letter from two DFL legislators calling for a report on operational spending. The letter, from Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Terri Bonoff, the chair of the higher education finance committee, was inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal article on growing overhead at the U that rekindled long-standing questions on the issue.
In a press briefing outlining the university’s priorities for this legislative session, Kaler said bringing in an outside consultant to do the review will give it “external validation.” He said he is not sure yet if the report’s cost will meet the threshold that will require bidding out the job.
At the briefing, Kaler pushed back against the national coverage, saying a look at growing payroll costs must more fully account for spiking enrollment and research grants.
But, he said, “I am not really interested in defending the status quo. I am interested in talking about how we’ll get better going forward.”
The university’s $1.1 billion biennial budget request includes a commitment to trim administrative spending by 5 percent over two years, and Kaler has already made some cuts. The U also promises to freeze resident undergraduate tuition if the state chips in an extra $32.6 million over two years.
Kaler said making the university leaner is not a process “that moves as fast as I’d like it to be”: “It will probably take the full biennial cycle to point us in the right direction.”
In their letter to Kaler, Bakk and Bonoff asked for an interim report by March, followed by a more in-depth report later.
“Having this interim report will provide us with a strong tool as we formulate and hope to pass our 2013 budget,” they wrote.
- Mila Koumpilova (kudos)

Here is one of those cases where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

At first it seems wrong to pay more money to attend to this matter.  Better spent on tuition buy-down?

Hopefully, the president will get this work done by an outfit with clean hands. One that is not perceived to benefit by the results of the audit, no matter what they might be. 

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