Presidential sugar-coating

Bruininks’ State of the U speech ignored the negative trends of his term.

Daily Editorial Board

University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks used his final State of the University speech last week to extol the schoolâÄôs virtues and highlight the positive impact his administration has had here. But the speech skimmed over the negative effects of BruininksâÄô term.

For starters, the address barely acknowledged that it costs dramatically more to attend the University now than it did when Bruininks took office. While this canâÄôt be placed completely at BruininksâÄô feet, it is impossible to spin an annual 3.5 percent increase in cost of attendance for Minnesota residents.

WeâÄôre happy with the advancements BruininksâÄô administration made in increasing student aid, but tuition has increased as well to sustain the UniversityâÄôs growing budget. By BruininksâÄô own account, the number of senior administrators has remained the same while positions, programs and benefits are cut at lower levels of the University. According to Bruininks, senior administration only makes up 0.4 percent of the UniversityâÄôs workforce, but any change to the administrative structure has been done quietly and with little impact on the UniversityâÄôs budgetary problems.

Bruininks used his speech to call funding cuts an unsustainable course for the state to take. But early in the address, he proudly boasted of a school budget that has increased 43 percent over his term. We agree with BruininksâÄô assessment of state funding reductions, but we wish the president was aware that a constantly growing University budget is as unsustainable âÄî if not more so âÄî than state funding cuts.

Bruininks has a few months left to solidify his legacy. To do so accurately, he needs to start acknowledging both his accomplishments and his shortfalls.