Several on the U’s Board of Regents seem irritated with the legislature’s demand that it give the U 1 percent of its funding only after the U meets three of the following five performance goals:
(1) increase the amount of institutional financial aid so that it is greater in fiscal year 2012 than in fiscal year 2010, excluding federal stimulus funding. Institutional financial aid includes funds from the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation;
(2) produce at least 13,500 total degrees on all campuses in fiscal year 2012;
(3) increase the undergraduate four- and six-year graduation rates on the Twin Cities campus for 2011-2012, as reported in the federal completions survey, over the numbers for 2009-2010, as reported in the federal completion survey;
(4) produce total research and development expenditures, as reported to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the University of Minnesota system so that the amount in the 2012 NSF report is not less than the amount in the 2010 NSF report; and
(5) produce sponsored funding from business and industry so that funding in fiscal year 2012, as reported to the Board of Regents in December of that year, is not less than funding in fiscal year 2010.
Regent Patricia Simmons said it intrudes into the U’s autonomy from the state:
“It concerns me when we have additional governing bodies set expectations and metrics, which may not be the same as ours. Who’s in charge? … And this comes at a time of decreasing funds from the state.”
President Kaler said the U’s legal eagles say the state can do that, but added:
“I do share your discomfort over the intrusion.”
Regent Laura Brod, a former legislator, seemed less concerned, saying it presented an opportunity to show transparency and gain the trust of the legislators and public.
Regent Steve Sviggum, also a former legislator, said he disagrees with regents’ concerns:
“I don’t share the concerns of the regents. I don’t share them at all. It’s not so much accountability to the legislature, it’s accountability to the state. There is an accountability that does come with (funding).”
Regent Clyde Allen said he doesn’t think this item isn’t key to autonomy.
“Pick your fights. The risk isn’t losing 1 percent of funding. It’s losing the relationship with the legislature — and improving it has been a goal of this board.”
The board approved the performance goals with “No” votes by Simmons and two others.