Friday, June 7, 2013

Katie and Kelly McNabb

at Kelly's graduation from 
the University of Minnesota Law School
Spring 2012

Devouring Our Children

The tuition for students in graduate and professional programs is what really compounds the student loan debt on young persons. The U of M as a land grant institution has a responsibility to provide an accessible and affordable education for our children (including graduate and professional programs that will provide the highly skilled persons we need to provide services to the citizens of Minnesota). 
The upward spiral in graduate tuition continues in the U of M budget for fiscal year 2014 with increases ranging from 3% to 9%. For example, the tuition for a freshman law student will now exceed $38,000. 
President Kaler explains that "frankly, there is less political enthusiasm around the cost of graduate education." See the June 6, 2013 Star Tribune report. So it appears that the senior administrators and Regents will be willing to relent only when they are forced to do so by the state legislature. 
It does not have to be this way.

Our twin daughters, Katie & Kelly, received their undergraduate degrees from the U of M in 2008. Katie continued working at the U of M Hospital and was promoted to be a supervisor. In the summer of 2011 she talked to the director of admissions at the U of M for the Master's program in health care administration. She was interested in particular in the part-time program so that she could continue to work full-time at the hospital. The director informed her that the part-time program is completely online and that the cost is $52,000. 
Then Katie talked to the people at Augsburg College about its part-time M.B.A. program with a concentration in health care administration. (She attended an open house at Augsburg where they served a dinner for all the prospective graduate students!) The courses are regular courses with professors and fellow classmates. And the cost is approximately one-half of the cost of the U of M program. 
A few days after the open house Katie was telling a friend about the Augsburg program as they were eating at an outdoor restaurant. An older couple at the next table got up to leave, and the gentleman told Katie that he overheard her conversation and he was so pleased to hear all her favorable comments about Augsburg. He gave her his card and told her to call him if he could be of any help. It turns out that he is a Regent at Augsburg. 
The next day Katie was going to send him an email when she had a break at the hospital to thank him for his offer. Before she could do so the Regent called her on a conference call with the director of admissions of Augsburg College. They encouraged her to apply for the part-time Master's program at Augsburg. So she did. Now she is studying at Augsburg--with real professors--and will graduate this year. 
When informed of Katie's story a senior U of M administrator responded the that the U of M is a research university. But that does not justify the yawning gap in tuition. (In his final appearance before the state legislature President Bruininks testified that tuition is not used to pay for research.) There is also the countervailing factor that as a private college Augsburg does not receive state appropriations. 
There is a better (and less expensive) way to educate our children, and we need to use those methods at the U of M. 
Michael W. McNabb 
University of Minnesota B.A. 1971; J.D. 1974
University of Minnesota Alumni Association life member

Comment (Bill Gleason):

The title of this essay immediately brought to mind the ancient god Moloch, most infamous for child sacrifice. Moloch has been used in English literature from John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) to Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" (1955), to refer to a person or thing demanding or requiring a very costly sacrifice. 

Babylonian cylinder seal representing child sacrifice


Bill Messing said...

A reference to Moloch is apt in terms of describing the University of Minnesota's approach to gouging students and their parents. As the Yiddish idiom says "Gelt fiert di gantseh velt!"

Bill Messing

Anonymous said...

Tongue-lashings are futile against those mired in legacy
trappings...only marketplace competition will eventually
force change.

Pete Magee said...

Augsburg is a good university and your daughter will learn a lot there. But the University of Minnesota is a research university, and it has costs that Augsburg never will. Professors at the U generate knowledge as well as teaching it. We need both kinds of institutions to serve the needs of students. But if we only had Augsburgs, we would know a lot less about things like infection control, ways to run hospitals more efficiently, and ways to improve staff efficiency.

Michael McNabb said...

Tuition is not used to pay for research (according to the administration).

Here are the sources of funds for research in fiscal year 2012: (1) federal research grants $508 million; (2) business & industry grants $55 million; (3) state & local grants $60 milion; (4) private grants $124 million; (5) revenue from technology "commercialization" $45 million.

See p. 3 of the 2012 annual report on U of M research at