MPR readers: How MN colleges should change

Inspired, perhaps, by University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler’s appearance on today’s Midmorning program, MPR readers had no lack of answers to Today’s Question:

What change would you most like to see at Minnesota’s public colleges and universities?

Many centered on cost-cutting efforts and tuition, but a number hit on curriculum, standards and instructors.

Here are a few examples.

CJ wrote in about administrative bloat:

I’m a UMN employee of 20+ years and have seen the top layer of administration grow and grow while staff are expected to do more and more yet not get raises and see their benefits decrease. … It’s time to cut fat from the top!

Greg had a list of specifics:

(1) get rid of paper text books – go electronic/web-based. Grant students the ability to print or make e-copies as needed for notes. (2) allow students to test out of any class for a fee of no more than 10% of the course cost. (3) drop the student:teacher ratio to about 18:1 MAXIMUM — which means hire more teachers. (4) require all TA’s, Associates, etc to take and pass an english presentation skills course. … (5) Mandatory guidance counselor contact hours for every student – every semester. Manage that herd of students – catch slackers, problems and find solutions ASAP.

Mediapolitic focused on making the U greener:

One of the biggest expenses in the University system is energy. Heating of large spaces in the winter are huge longterm expenses that are only going to increase.

The University system should invest in much more solar, wind, geothermal, and refactor some glass and window sections to dramatically reduce these costs.

There is an upfront cost, but ultimately far fewer dollars will be spent.

The University could also fund these projects as part of their curriculum.

Finally, Josh D. questioned the value of a four-year degree — and said the state should, too:

I’d like to see more emphasis on the benefits of an Associate Degree over 4 year degrees, and more funding for the schools that provide them. I understand the need for well rounded individuals in our community (I took a lot of extra generals despite not needing them for my degree), but I know A LOT of people who went to the U, and feel that they don’t use their degree in their professions, or went on to other schooling so that they could get a job they enjoy. … My two year degree got me a job that I love to do that pays as well or better then the jobs a lot people get with a 4 year degree. Our society needs both types of education, but I think the 4 year degree has been oversold.