The letter that Senate leaders sent to Kaler

A number of reporters and I met with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler at the Capitol this morning to discuss the letter above and a number of other issues.

Despite the storm over last month’s Wall Street Journal article about the U’s administrative spending, Kaler says he thinks the U can win over legislators skeptical over how well the university spends its money.

As you can see above, Senate leaders have asked Kaler for a report by March 15th on the U’s spending in that area and how it stacks up to that of other Big 10 universities.

Will he get it to them in time — and with enough detail? After all, the U has been criticized for not providing enough data in the past.

He said:

“We’ll do our best to do that. It is not a trivial undertaking. … We were planning to do this anyway. Whether we will have the final story by the 15th of March I don’t know. We will have it as soon as possible, and we’ll share it broadly. And then we’ll act on it to streamline our administrative structure.”

Kaler said he’s hiring an outside consulting firm to get some “external validation.” He said the cost hasn’t yet been determined, but that the U “wouldn’t spend a ton of money on it.”

So how will the media storm affect his chances of getting the legislature to approve the U’s request for $93 million in additional spending?

Kaler said, as he has in the past, that some of the Journal’s conclusions were inaccurate — and that lawmakers will come to see that. Meanwhile, he said he’ll continue to stress to lawmakers the value to the state of the U’s research and teaching.

All in all, he said:

“I think the positive parts of that story are pretty compelling. The negative parts described in the newspaper, put into perspective, I think can be understood. So I’m cautously optimistic that we’ll have a positive outcome.”

Thanks to The Periodic Table for the tip and link to the letter.