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Surprise, Surprise, Tuition Blackmail (ten percent increase?) and An Early Retirement Incentive

The governor and the state legislature are scheduled to discuss the state budget in St. Paul this weekend.

Naturally, OurLeader has to make dire threats about what will happen if he doesn't get his way, and how he will, ever so reluctantly, have to raise tuition.

At what point are the legislature and the governor going to tire of this game and tell him that if he does, once again, take it out on the students, that there will be dire consequences?



As reported by MPR:

Nearly 10 percent tuition hike possible at U of M next fall

St. Paul, Minn. — The University of Minnesota's tuition increase would approach double digits next fall if the state budget is adopted with the governor's recommended cuts.

Tuition would go up 9.5 percent under one of three scenarios released today in President Robert Bruininks university budget proposal. The other two scenarios maintain the tuition increase of 7.5 percent--which is the number mapped out a year ago after the legislative budget session.

"The bulk of the solution to a $27 million cut will come through internal budget cuts at the university and delaying investments that we had hoped to make in a variety of academic programs--we will have to trim those back." Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter says.

The university has a program in place to reduce the tuition increase by two percent for middle income students. Pfutzenreuter notes the program probably wouldn't apply if the university had to absorb the $27 million reduction.

The House and Senate are considering lesser cuts to the university of $5 million to $10 million. Under those scenarios, Bruininks' budget would not add to the scheduled 7.5 percent tuition hike. However it would require internal cuts and possibly job reductions.

"We were...hoping to make investments in new honors programs and writing initiatives and hiring a new chair in genetics and cell biology, making investments in medical devices and nanotechnology and a new center for science technology," Pfutzenreuter said.

In addition to the budget cuts, the university is also proposing an early retirement incentive program for faculty and staff. It's projected that six percent of staff take the retirement option. If so, the university could save as much as $50-million.

The retirement incentive is the university's effort to head off what Pfutzenreuter believes will be additional state budget problems down the road.

Great, Pfutz. We are going to hire how many new faculty to fill the new biomedical research buildings? And we are going to go out and hire big guns (like Jacko and Sainfort) with what? If we need to get six percent of the staff to retire in order to make it through this recession, does this much hyped expansion make sense?

But then, under the circumstances, "ambitious aspirations to be one of the top three research universities in the world [sic]" doesn't make any sense either.

Long past time to get real.

Added later:

And now the Strib of the red telephone chimes in.
The word threatening seems an entirely appropriate description of OurLeader's behavior, although I prefer blackmail.

U now is considering a 9.5% tuition increase

The University of Minnesota is threatening to add 2 percentage points if the Legislature approves Gov. Pawlenty's request for $27.3 million in budget cuts. The cost for many students may top $10,000 for the first time.

"If we get to $27 million, we'll do some more cutting, but we're going to have to turn to tuition," said Richard Pfutzenreuter, a university vice president and chief financial officer. "It's a pretty simple message."

Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung was disappointed with the U's stance.

"Last year, the University of Minnesota received a 17 percent increase in funding from the state," McClung said. "Even with that large increase, the U raised tuition by 7 percent -- and now they're talking about another 7.5 or 9.5 percent increase. We are very disappointed that the U can't hold tuition increases to a reasonable level when they are receiving funding increases that are several times the rate of inflation."

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