Thursday, December 9, 2010

The L'Oreal Approach - I'm worth it

is not working at the University of Minnesota

Time for a change?

I am not so sure that the legislature is going to be inclined to maintain the university's funding, even at its current low level, let alone give an increase as is being requested. Such a request will appear to be arrogant and selfish in the current economic environment. Certainly there is a track record of poor priorities and choices about money from the current administration.

The next university administration needs to seriously rethink how business has been done at the legislature, especially because, for the next few years at least, the legislature will be controlled by the GOP.

Two simple things that could be done to put the discussion with the legislature on firmer ground:
1) Spell out what the actual cost is for the education of an undergraduate for one year at the U of M. Give an explanation of the basis for this estimate. Of course whatever is done is subject to some argument, but so be it. At least we will have a better idea of the expenses and revenues on the education side.

2) Spell out how much research at the U actually costs and the difference between outside grant income and actual expenses. Where, exactly, does this money come from?

In negotiations with the legislature, commit to tuition increases at inflationary levels, IF the legislature will make up the difference between educational expenses and tuition revenue.

Since even the GOP seems to be in favor of research, negotiate some sort of arrangement where the legislature will agree to match outside funds generated by research by some percentage. The negotiations could start at 30% and work down. If the funding is not forthcoming, then we will have to do less research...

Do not attempt to negotiate with the legislature by saying: We need this money because we are very important to the state.

The argument that has been used in the past reminds me of the old L'Oreal commercial: Give us the money, because we're worth it! This will no longer fly. There are plenty of hungry mouths out there - literally and figuratively - and we are just one of them.

Let's start playing money ball and quit banging our heads against the cement wall. The L'Oreal approach has not worked since 1997.


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