Bruininks: Too little too late

The University should have fought cuts harder from the beginning.

Last week, President Bob Bruininks strongly condemned looming cuts to the University, calling them, âÄúway out of proportion to the size of education in the state budget.âÄù His comments came following a state Legislature conference committeeâÄôs approval of a budget bill that will devastate the University by slashing its already-reduced funding by 14.4 percent and cut $306 million total from higher education in Minnesota.

âÄúIâÄôm hot as hell about it âĦ weâÄôre really taking it in the neck,âÄù Bruininks told the Star Tribune last week after a Board of Regents meeting where he detailed possible measures to handle the cuts, which could include a wage freeze, layoffs and tuition increases. BruininksâÄô outrage has been a long time coming âÄî too long.

In previous years, Bruininks indicated he disapproved of cuts, but never put up much of a fight. In January 2010, he rolled over to former Gov. Tim Pawlenty after the governor proposed $36 million in cuts to the University. Meanwhile, University CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter touts his ability to âÄúrepositionâÄù the University for âÄúnew fiscal realities.âÄù Preparing for possible cuts is appropriate, but passively accepting those cuts as inevitable is not.

It is good that Bruininks is finally taking a stand against serious cuts, but it is long overdue. Now, with only two months left as president, he can afford to sound off against devastating cuts; President-designate Eric Kaler will soon take over the responsibility of confronting these âÄúdifficult fiscal realities.âÄù

It is convenient timing for Bruininks, but a bit late for the rest of the University. We hope the new president will continue the battle against cuts with more fervor than our current president has shown in the past.