By Sarah Barchus
University President Eric Kaler proposed a funding request to the Board of Regents on Friday that promised a tuition freeze and reduced administrative spending if funds are increased by $1.18 billion over two years, Pioneer Press reported.
The proposal requested $14. 2 million over two years to fund the tuition freeze for in-state students, as well as a recurring $18 million fund for four areas of research including robotics and advanced manufacturing, global food supply, industry and environment, and treatments for brain conditions, the Star Tribune reported.
Furthermore, the university asked for an accountability fund that would provide $11.5 million over two years. Richard Pfutzenreuter, the university's chief financial officer, said the proposal is responsible and designed to keep the university accountable. The university must meet three of five goals in order to collect the funds, which include graduating more students and increasing financial and research and development spending, the Star Tribune reported.
In the past the Board of Regents planned to withhold one percent of funding if the goals were not met, which raised concerns about the university's autonomy, the Star Tribune reported. Pfutzernreuter said this time the university is proposing the goals. Daniel Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said the university is showing some proactivity.
The Pioneer Press reported that undergraduate students currently spend around $13,500 in tuition and fees per year. Pfutzenreuter said that the two-year tuition freeze instead of the planned three percent increase would save in-state students around $2,500 over four years, the Star Tribune reported.
University lobbyist, Jason Rohloff, said the state budget's shortfall might make it challenging to sell legislators on the additional investment, reported the Pioneer Press. But Pfutzenreuter said the university plans to do some of its own lifting by cutting administrative spending by $28 million, reported the Star Tribune.
The Board of Regents will vote on the proposal in October and forward it to the state later that month, the Pioneer Press reported.