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Hindsight: 20/20, Foresight: 20/200

Fellow U of M alum, Michael McNabb has kindly given me permission to post his email message of today.

The financial crisis at the U of M is not like a natural disaster that hit without warning. It has been coming at us for DECADES. At the annual legislative briefing in January 2005 the Alumni Association distributed a booklet entitled "Reverse the Trend." Here are two gems from that booklet:

(1) Thirty years ago Minnesota spent eight cents of every dollar on higher education and today that number is less than four cents.

(2) State appropriations now make up less than 25% of the University of Minnesota's total operating budget while tuition has increased nearly 21%.

According to the report in the Star Tribune on October 9 "there were few questions from the Regents" after the senior administrators presented their report on the financial crisis. How can that be? Were they too stunned by the news (because they had not been following the trend of the last 30 years)? Were they sleeping through the report?

So why have the senior administrators and the Regents continued to sit on their hands all these years? Oh, wait, I forgot, they were too busy cajoling legislators and donors (and strong-arming students) for hundreds of millions of dollars for a football stadium that will provide entertainment for six Saturday afternoons each year.

The senior administrators and the Regents followed the lead of (former) Regent David Metzen, who proclaimed that "a lot of your image as a university is linked to athletes." Star Tribune report of March 24, 2007.

So their legacy will be the football stadium.

As for leadership at the U of M, the members of the faculty will need to rouse themselves and assume the leadership role or they will have only themselves to blame for the continuing decline of the University.

Michael W. McNabb
University of Minnesota B.A. 1971; J.D. 1974
University of Minnesota Alumni Association lifetime member

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