Thursday, January 3, 2013

The U's Failing Grade for Fiscal Management

Exhibit A on Administrative Bloat:

The University of Minnesota

The Strib has re-printed the Washington Post piece by Charles Lane entitled:  The U's failing grade for fiscal management - Exhibit A on administrative bloat: The U.

Regular readers will note that this piece has already appeared on the Periodic Table.  

The reader's comments are interesting although some of them suffer from a lack of information. This is not always the fault of the commenter.

Some examples:

Mr Kaler was brought in to make significant improvements to the U and hasn't produced yet. This bloated beast needs to be reformed (major cuts, restructuring, automation and innovation) for the sake of our kids and bank accounts. Seems like every couple of months a new skeleton emerges...

We need less "Minnesota nice" and more serious candor about the role the university is expected to play in the second decade of the 21st century.

In the 1960s, an average person with a high school diploma could live a comfortable, middle-income lifestyle. That statement no longer holds true. As people who were once solidly middle class find themselves falling further down the distributional ladder, their children increasingly find a college education more difficult to finance.

There is no reason why it should cost $13,000 (more if you count room and board) to go to a PUBLIC university. None. Meanwhile, taxpayers are spending hundreds of millions on a stadium for a billionaire who doesn't even live here. Outrageous.

We have been ill-informed and flat out lied to by the U of MN officials and legislature. We need to demand accountability.

So are we to believe that the University of Minnesota is unable to fully fill its incoming freshman classes? I was under the impression that applicants are regularly turned away. All I know for certain is that the "U" was busily GILDING the ceiling of a lecture hall the last time I toured the campus. That's painting the ceiling trim in gold, for those who aren't familiar with the process.

Affordable education? Not at my Alma Matter.

If you look at the job listings for the University of Minnesota, you'll see very few openings for professors and many openings for the assistant to the assistant.

 The U needs to get back to its primary function - graduating educated students, and at a price the middle class can afford.

How about wasting a few hundred million dollars on a new football stadium that's used seven times per year?

My son was accepted at the U of MN last year. We did our research and he is now attending NDSU and saving about $7k/year. I was shocked at the cost for a MN resident at the U of MN. For an undergraduate degree, there is no excuse for this huge difference in cost. Whatever the reason, it needs to be fixed. We are saving about $24k by going out of state. I was told that Minnesota kids make up more than half of NDSU enrollment. When more students choose alternatives, maybe the U will start to reform itself.

The U of M administration increased spending from $2 billion in fiscal year 2002 to $3 billion in fiscal year 2012. The fuel for this billion dollar explosion was skyrocketing tuition that soared from $293 million in fiscal year 2002 to $634 million in fiscal year 2011. This astronomical rise in tuition far exceeded any reduction in state appropriations. Michael W. McNabb U of M Alumni Association life member

81 administrators making 200K plus is sad considering all the tuition hikes, but the more telling figure I think is 10 million on consultants for a building they are years from starting construction on. That is an indication that there are likely few if any cost controls when it comes to new building projects and use of outside vendors.

Only an academic could argue that replacing $40,000 a year clerical jobs with degreed titled administrators making $200,000 a year is somehow a cost savings.

In response to regionguy: the specific information you requested may be found in the online essays Ten Year Review of University Inc. and On The Cost of Administration Part III on The Periodic Table blog. Michael W. McNabb

The Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) commissioned an audit of University finances by an outside auditor last year. Indeed, it was clearly shown that administrative costs had risen considerably more than instructional costs.

My co-workers' daughter recently graduated from the U of M and her student loan payment is over $600 per month. Now tell me how a 20-something is supposed to get ahead when you have that large of a payment to make each month.

I went there for too long, paid too much, and I just laugh when they send me their fundraiser mailers!

I taught at the U of M (recently) for several years and was saddened by the obsessive drive to bring in more money. I attended a meeting in 2010 where it was suggested by a department head that the degree requirements within that college be changed so that it would take 5 years to complete instead of 4. The reasoning was that the college would be able to collect more money via tuition payments. The teachers in that meeting, to their credit, loudly and forcefully rejected that idea. I bring this up to illustrate the point that as state funding continues to decline for the U of M the response is not to be more responsible with expenditures, but rather to raise revenue from the easiest source, students.

I wholeheartedly agree with the posts indicating that Dr Kaler was brought on board to reform the U and get costs inline while raising the U's rankings. However, after being on board more than a year, there is no material evidence to the public that he has delivered any reform. You can't study the problem forever and its clear that the ROI is no where near what is should be. I have 2 children attending the U this year and I hate to say this, but we might need to consider alternatives.

Bruininks was the WORST person they could have hired as President after Yudoff left. He was a pure academic that had only ever worked for the U. It was chronyism at its' finest. He had no understanding, or at least showed none, in the matters of finance and budgeting. 

 I get the letters in the mail and the solicitation calls all the time from the U looking for donations. I go to my fraternity's annual alumni meeting and visit with many old college friends often. I tell them, and encourage them to do the same, I will never give one cent to the U. It is pure waste if you donate to the U. I love the University of Minnesota, but at the same time I have nothing but disdain and disgust for the administration.

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