Supporting every campus

The Legislature should ensure that every University of Minnesota campus remains competitive.

The success of all five of the University of Minnesota campuses, from Rochester to Duluth, is crucial for the state’s economic and cultural growth.

The University system’s prestigious yet affordable education is a driving force behind the state’s low unemployment and economic competiveness. But in order for the state to continue producing an educated and highly skilled workforce, the state must heavily invest in the entire University system. The state should guarantee each campus the resources necessary to graduate talented students and produce groundbreaking research.

Gov. Mark Dayton and several state lawmakers hosted a forum in Duluth where faculty and staff members complained about the disparity in state funding between the Duluth and Twin Cities campuses. Minnesota Public Radio reported Jan. 27 that UMD’s funding from the state has declined 45 percent from five years ago, compared with a 20 percent drop at the Twin Cities campus.

State Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, rightly said at the forum that “UMD deserves their fair share, per capita,” MPR reported.

Dayton was shocked to hear of the disparity, saying it is understandable that UMD faculty and staff would “feel like they’re being shortchanged and given a second-rate status.”

Until recently, the state Legislature had carelessly and consistently reduced the state’s financial contribution to the Twin Cities campus. The financial strain inflicted on UMD — nearly a 50 percent reduction over a five-year period — is all the more shortsighted.

Dayton and the Legislature have made significant investments in higher education this past year. In the upcoming legislative session, state lawmakers should also make fairer investments in the University’s system, giving each campus the ability to provide a quality and affordable education.