Bruininks on reduced funding for the U of Minnesota

University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks was asked by reporters after a Senate committee hearing on higher education how the initial legislative funding proposal — which would keep U funding essentially flat over the next two years — would affect the university.

Where would the initial funding bill leave the University of Minnesota?

“The preliminary bill would leave us roughly at the place we are now. It would be a significant reduction of what was projected (as an increase) for our budget next year, and would require us to tighten our belts significantly. But this is just Round 1. This particular plan proposes to cut roughly a billion dollars out of a $6.3 billion projected deficit. … What I’m more worried about is the endgame – what it will look like when we get toward May or June. … I hope we can find a way to protect the university. I know we have to be a part of the solution.”

What would the practical impact be?

“Every time you cut a million dollars from the university you’re threatening the jobs of roughly 15-17 people. … Tuition would go up, but it wouldn’t be the only solution. … Our students are stressed. … We’re going to do everything possible to find other solutions. Our people know that there’s a very strong likelihood there will be a freeze on compensation and benefits. That’s very hard, because we’ve had several of these in the last few years. … Unless things get to … an absolute crisis level, we’re going to keep increases in the single-digit range. I’m going to do everything possible, as I end my tenure as president, to keep this tension on maintaining modest increases in tuition.”

Bruininks warned, however:

“If we balance this budget by devastating education, in my judgment we will be making a very deliberate decision to compromise the long-term future of our state and the position of our state in the global economy. … We’ve had many, many political leaders, when they give you their list of three to five highest priorities, won’t even mention higher education. And you simply can not be a player in the global economy (without supporting higher education).”