University officials apprised legislators Wednesday of the need for more state funding to help the school keep its best and brightest.
Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee heard from administrators who contended that the University needs its entire requested budget in order to keep top professors and students at the school.
The University is asking the state for about $580 million per year over the next two years, as opposed to the $497 million it received last year. One of the largest portions of the 17 percent increase would go toward increases in salary compensation for faculty members.
Marvin Marshak, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, told the committee that most of the University’s professors will retire in the next five to eight years. When it comes time to hire new faculty, Marshak said, prospective professors will need to be offered a fair market wage.
“If I were to offer a professor $73,000, and the University of Michigan offers $85,000 … we will lose out,” Marshak said.
An annual salary increase to keep up with the inflation rate of 2.5 percent would require a $69 million increase for this biennium. To make salaries more competitive with the top 30 research institutions in the United States, the request calls for $115.4 million to increase salaries during that time. The University currently ranks 28th among the top 30 institutions in faculty pay for full professors.
At the same time, the University boasts that high school rankings of its incoming freshmen classes has continued to rise over the past few years.
This year the average freshman ranked in the top 25 percent of his or her high school class, a slight improvement over the previous year. The University’s goal for the year 2000 is to improve that ranking to the top 22 percent.
But increases in funding from the state are needed to ensure that quality high school graduates will continue to choose the University, Marshak said. The University is therefore requesting an additional $8 million for merit-based financial aid.
“Too many of our brightest high school graduates pick up and leave Minnesota and don’t come back,” Marshak said. “We are in a workers-shortage situation in Minnesota.”
Marshak said the University’s proposal outlines what it will need from the state to get a good start on improving the school over the next four years.
“We have laid out what we believe the University needs to do,” Marshak said.
The University will finish its budget presentation to the senate committee Tuesday. Marshak and Richard Pfutzenreuter, the associate vice president for Budget and Finance, will discuss the school’s partnership proposal. The proposal outlines what percent of the overall budget would be paid by the state, student tuition and the University.