Budget allows 30 new faculty

by Erin Ghere

The University Board of Regents voted Monday to approve University President Mark Yudof’s 1999-2000 operating budget.
The highlight of the budget is funding to hire 30 new faculty over the next two years. The University’s $1.6 billion, two-year budget includes $119 million of new funding from the Legislature. Of that, $43 million is being used in the 1999-2000 budget.
Faculty hiring was one of Yudof’s major goals over the next two years, and the Legislature granted him enough funding to increase the number of faculty. Six new faculty members will be hired during 1999-2000, and 22 the following year.
Yudof said the budget was sufficient to allow the University to make gains, although it will be at a slower pace than he originally requested. Yudof’s $198 million budget request was trimmed to $119 by the time the Legislature adjourned May 17. In late May, Gov. Jesse Ventura signed the higher education bill into law, funding the University for the next two years.
Yudof revamped his proposed two-year budget, taking into account the 40 percent that was not funded, and presented it to the board on June 12.
Other highlights in the budget include a 3 percent raise for faculty and staff, $1.05 million for library improvements on all four University campuses, $764,000 to improve undergraduate programs such as study abroad and research opportunities, and $8 million for medical education.
The 3 percent faculty and staff member pay increases were less than Yudof was hoping for, and during his June 12 presentation to the Regents, Yudof suggested the University go to other sources for the capital to compete with other research universities in faculty pay.
One route was to ask the different colleges within the University to add to their own faculty’s raises. University officials said it will be mid-July before they know exactly how much each college is willing to give.
Another option Yudof suggested was going to private sources, outside the University, for the additional funding. But he warned that in doing so, the University could be stepping on the toes of legislators who fund the University.
Although the University’s overall budget for the next two years is less than Yudof requested, he called the funding allocated to medical education a “monumental breakthrough.” Legislators worked with Ventura up until the closing days of the 1999 legislative session to establish medical endowments totalling $968 million, from Minnesota’s $6.1 billion tobacco settlement.
One of the endowments established was a medical education endowment, which will provide the Academic Health Center with 5 percent of its interest, or approximately $8 million per year.
The University’s Medical School produces most of Minnesota’s doctors and other health professionals, said Robert Bruininks, University vice president and provost. Yudof called the Legislature’s move a “historic breakthrough” and said that long after people forget the names of University officials, they will remember what the Legislature and Ventura did to “save this great Academic Health Center.”