Sunday, February 29, 2004

Caucus Resolution - MnSCU 

This Tuesday night is caucus night in Minnesota. While much attention will be focused on the DFL and on its delegates' support for various presidential candidates, expect also to see a wave of higher-education resolutions put forward - especially in Republican caucuses. Here's but one example of a resolution that will be discussed in a precinct in the Twin Cities.

Whereas our party strongly supports Minnesota's tradition of excellence and opportunity in our publicly supported institutions of higher learning, and

Whereas we seek to restrain the rate of growth in tuition increases, while at the same time improving our state's ability to attract, retain, and motivate outstanding professors, and

Whereas philosophically we favor competition over collectivism as an economic model for optimizing quality as well as efficiency, and

Whereas we value decentralized, autonomous decision-making rather than centralized bureaucratic control in our organizational efforts to maximize accountability to Minnesotans for returns on their tax-dollar investments,

Be it resolved, therefore, that our statewide party calls on all of our legislative candidates for Minnesota House and Senate seats (and especially on those who seek to serve on either the House Higher Education Finance Committee or the Higher Education Budget Division of the Senate's Finance Committee) to:

1) Request that Minnesota's Office of the Legislative Auditor conduct a new study designed to compare our state's ratio of direct instructional costs to administrative costs (expended by both the Office of MnSCU's Chancellor and by campus administrations) with comparable ratios calculated in neighboring states including Illinois (which by that state's Senate Bill 241, did in 1995, establish autonomous governing boards for each of its seven state universities);

2) Support the efforts of Senator Dave Kleis of St. Cloud to enact legislation that would allow Minnesota's state universities to withdraw from MnSCU and establish their own local governing boards;

3) Work with the Citizens League to help assess current offerings, develop a new vision for higher education in Minnesota, and support initiatives that will reward those campuses and programs that can document quantitatively their excellence of outcomes and that close those programs and campuses that are either unwilling or unable to demonstrate such excellence; and

4) Enact new legislation that would prohibit anyone covered by the Personnel Plan for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Administrators from receiving any promotional, positional-review, exceptional-performance, salary-review, merit, step-up, or any other kind of compensation increases during all times when any of the bargaining units who negotiate with MnSCU are working without a current contract.

Don't be surprised if similar resolutions are debated within both major parties' caucuses around the state. It's now virtually impossible to overstate the depth of frustration felt by professors at our state universities with the office of the Chancellor of Minnesota's State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).