Wednesday, September 08, 2004

University doings 

This story doesn't really relate to SCSU, since it's not really an elite institution.
A colleague at an Ivy League university told me that the year before his retirement the undergraduate classes voted him "teacher of the year." His comment: "Lucky for me, I was on my way out: It would have hurt my career if I won that kind of award as an assistant professor."

It doesn't hurt here; if anything, it should help if you read the kind of message our President Saigo is sending this term. We had two faculty with articles in the local paper (still handicapped with no archiving, so fish for the articles in the opinion section if you're reading this after today), one positive and one negative. Meanwhile, our chancellor is worrying that citizen's committees and the legislature will short-change MnSCU.

Since fall 2000, full-year-equivalent enrollment at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has grown by 18,000 students, or more than 15 percent, while state funding has dropped nearly 6 percent in actual dollars. The per-student state appropriation for the 2004-05 academic year is $3,990, lower than it was in 1994-95. Our dedicated faculty and staff are working hard to maintain quality, but these budget cuts, coupled with increasing demand, are challenging our ability to serve business and community needs and stressing our facilities.

To partially replace lost appropriations, tuition has risen 60 percent since fall 2000, placing an increasing financial burden on students, many of whom can't afford it. Despite significant operational improvements, budget cuts and program eliminations, we are facing an uncertain future and the real possibility that Minnesotans' access to higher education will be diminished.

What McCormack fails to tell you is that while he's made budget cuts and program eliminations, his own system office budget has risen to absorb more than $1 in every $10 in the system. The cuts to administrative costs are no more there than anywhere else. Perhaps Saigo needs to send an SOS to St. Paul to send reallocate that money back to the colleges. And the chancellor better prepare for war with the U of M over resources.