Thursday, February 7, 2013

 University of Minnesota Students Rally

Behind  Budget Request to State

 From the Star Tribune:

Students cheered for robust funding of University of Minnesota at the Capitol on Thursday. But their shouts may compete with an uproar this session over the U's administrative spending.
Hundreds of students from the system's five campuses gathered in the rotunda Thursday, wielding Goldy Gopher buck-teeth-on-a-stick and ticking off the U's research feats.
"Minnesota has not been making the same investment in education that we used to," Taylor Williams, president of the Minnesota Student Association, told the crowd. "Students want a better future ... but we have slowly left them behind as the cost of higher education skyrockets and Minnesota's investment in their future stagnates."
The U is requesting $91.6 million more in state funding over two years, an 8.4 increase. Meanwhile, legislators have their own demand: more data about the university's workforce.
Lawmakers who have asked difficult questions of the university on Thursday emphasized their support for its students and its research. Rep. Gene Pelowski, chairman of the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, told the crowd that "it's time to stop the bleeding of higher education."
"It's time to stop the historic cuts. It's time to stop the historic tuition increases," he said. "It's time to stop the historic debt." U officials have tied part of their request -- an increase of $42.6 million over two years -- to a two-year tuition freeze for Minnesota resident undergrads.
During a hearing this week, Sen. Terri Bonoff asked that U President Eric Kaler commit to that freeze no matter the funding. "I'm asking you, regardless, to find a way to cap tuition for these students," she said.
After the rally, students scattered for meetings with legislators. Andrew Sletten, a junior at the Morris campus, hopes telling "a simple story about how in debt we are, how terrified we are about finding a job" will affect lawmakers, he said. "If any of that can stick here, I feel it's worthwhile."
Sletten said he thinks a tuition freeze is a good idea but worries it would be a bandage "on a much deeper problem."
All 12 members of the U's Board of Regents attended the noon rally. At their meeting afterward, they learned about progress on an analysis that legislators requested earlier this session.
After a Wall Street Journal article in December thrust perennial controversy over the university's spending into a brighter spotlight, Bonoff and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk asked for a report on its workforce by mid-March.
The university is "on a very fast track" to completing that analysis, said Kathy Brown, vice president for human resources.
It will likely show that "we have some areas which are very well-organized," she said, and others where managers might supervise too few people. "The question that arises is, 'Does that area need some reorganization?'" Brown said. A careful review will follow, she said. "These are real people and real jobs, so you have to be thoughtful."
In his budget, Gov. Mark Dayton set aside an $80 million increase for the U -- contingent on results of the March report.
During his speech in the Capitol rotunda, Kaler referred to the challenge. But, he told students, "I like our chances."

Some reader comments on the Strib article  follow:

If anyone would like to be amused, or enlightened, or perhaps just plain angered, google "Minnesota Public Employees Salaries"and click on "". It's a great database published by "that other" newspaper in town. Click on the U of M tab on the far left. You will have to click through 100 pages before you leave the list of persons that make more than $100,000.00 per year. Granted the majority of them are professors, but there are a load of administrative persons as well. I did not go lower than $99,000, but I bet there are lots of administrative people right around that point also. Btw, this is a good database to check out how much anyone makes who is any sort of public employee. It doesn't include K-12 though.

I am a U of M student, and was asked via email to go to this rally but I refused. The email stated that every 'student' that attended would get a free T-shirt, free lunch, and free transportation from the U to the Capitol and back. The students who went to this rally have to dig deeper getting behind President Kaler. Kaler will continue to support his do-nothing administrators who receive 6 figure salaries including his own. I want a tuition freeze as well, but the problem here is an internal one. I hope students got that message today.

I'm all for "robust funding" of the U and other public universities, but NOT until there's an audit.

The students have this wrong. They ought to be focused on Mr Kaler and the Regents. The U has self inflicted wounds due to their arrogance and refusal to reform. The U continues to be a bloated dinosaur who continues to fund their financial mismanagement on the backs of the students.

The students are getting the worst of both worlds. It is true that there has been mismanagement of funds by top administrators. This needs to stop. However, there has also been a severe decrease in state support for the university over the past decade, and Republicans have often used high profile stories about bad behavior by administrators as cover for deep cuts that usually hurt students and low-level staff instead of people at the top.

The UofM will NOT spend new taxpayer money on tuition relief. It will be windfall to blown as usual. Students ought to protesting the U of Ms bloated budget. The UofM is out of control.

Funding hasn't kept pace with skyrocketing costs. Go figure. Maybe the U should do something about the skyrocketing costs and then we can talk about funding.

"Republicans have often used high profile stories about bad by behavior by administrators as cover for deep cuts that usually hurt students and low-level staff instead of people at the top." Please provide a source that shows these deep cuts.

Before we give them any more money they need to get control of what is going on there now. Checkout UMore Park. This is the future city the U is planning with a staff (4 people - director making 171,000) and consultants(10 million). How does this waste continue when the they are demanding more money.

Feb. 8, 1312:03 PM
I hope our politicians have the good sense to evaluate any funding to the U based on merit and results instead of a "staged" event like this. Sounds like the Vikings Stadium all over again...

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