Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Give the State [Minnesota] An Ultimatum?

From the University of Minnesota Daily:

If Minnesota won't fund the university, ax outreach and research

Last week, a Board of Regents task force determined that “the University’s financial architecture has undergone … a permanent paradigm shift. The decline and reset of state support and the increased reliance on tuition revenue are permanent changes unlikely to be reversed.” This conclusion isn’t as realistic as it is cynical, especially when the task force argues that the University must forge a “new covenant” with the state of Minnesota to reestablish fiscal support.

But it does appear that Minnesota is losing its luster as an exceptionally educative state. Earlier this year, former Gov. Al Quie lamented to MinnPost that “Minnesotans have lost a sense of direct responsibility for their colleges and universities.” With the future of state appropriations in question, the University needs to figure out how to play hardball with the legislature and the governor.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s unallotment gave administration an ultimatum: crank up tuition or take out the cleaver. Likely favoring the former, the University will come out looking even more like a high-tuition, high-aid private college and less like the public research university Minnesotans know us as. Perhaps it’s time we play the cards Minnesota has dealt us and start cutting University research and outreach.

Sure, the University has land grant responsibilities to the state: sharing its knowledge and applying it to the economy. Borlaug’s wheat, Honeycrisp apples, an artificial heart.

It is backward to expect the University to fulfill its state responsibilities without appropriate state funding. The University must give an ultimatum to the state: Either you allow us to remain a public land grant university with research and state outreach or else our students foot the bill and we focus on solely their education.

In your dreams

"or else our students foot the bill and we focus on solely their education."

We could probably do a pretty good job of educating students if this actually happened. Unfortunately the waters are muddied by a vainglorious attempt to become one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic].

As to giving an ultimatum to the State Legislature, I'd be careful with that one.

Mr Pfutzenreuter and Rep. Rukavina got into it about this on tuition increases... The plan was to go for a high number and Rukavina put a limit on it in the funding bill. Pfutzenreuter and the Morrill Hall crowd would like to think that they can do anything they want, and maybe technically they can. But as Rukavina put it: "It's [a limit on tuition increase] in the bill, so sue me."

Time to get real around here?

The problem is that we have no leverage. And the current administration does not know how to get any. "Wrestling requires increasing leverage against your opponent in order to gain the advantage." Norman Borlaug and J Robinson knew/know about this. Robert Bruininks and Tom Sullivan do not.

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