Subtle but interesting change in the tenor of the state’s two main higher-ed leaders today in the legislature’s conference committee on higher education, the committee that’s supposed to iron out differences between the House and Senate higher-ed bills.
President Robert Bruininks of the University of Minnesota had little new to say, and didn’t have quite the edge his previous letters to the legislature had carried.
Instead, it was Chancellor James McCormick of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system that laid it out his main concern — tuition caps:
Our campuses need flexibility and planning for tuition. Please … don’t establish tuition in the law.”
He was one of a number of speakers (including union- and student leaders) who opposed House and Senate tuition maximums, which would be 2-3 percent annually for community and technical colleges and 4 percent for universities.MnSCU administrators had been budgeting with a 5 percent increase in mind, he said.
McCormick also asked legislators to drop language:
- requiring the Board of Trustees to fund any new “transformational initiatives” through the central office and shared services unit using operation and maintenance money. (“Language like this micromanages the work of the Board of Trustees,” he said.)
- requiring MnSCU to allow credits from one MnSCU school to be accepted at any other school, at least as electives. (“We’re already doing the work the language addresses.”)
- requiring an efficiency study of the operations of MnSCU and the Chancellor’s Office. (“Recall (that) the Office of the Legislative Auditor just completed a study for you in this last year with … quite positive results. We don’t think another one is necessary.”)
Bruininks did, however, speak out against the anti-cloning legislation proposed in both chambers, saying it could:
“… represent a real threat to maintaining our best researchers and recruiting the talent we need to keep the university strong. It can clearly dampen our prospects to be competitive.”