Yudof, Regents consider tight budget, 14 percent tuition hike

Melinda Rogers

Still waiting for a final decision from the Legislature on funding, President Mark Yudof discussed the University’s 2001-02 operating budget with the Board of Regents on Friday.

Yudof said the state’s appropriation for the Academic Health Center will help meet needs, but students will face tuition increases so the University can maintain its current programs.

“The trend lines are clear; public education as we know it is changing. States are contributing less and, as a result, great public universities are forced to raise tuition,” Yudof said.

“Through these changes, we must maintain our quality and accessibility, provide superior service and be accountable to students, their families and the people of Minnesota,” he said.

In February, Yudof estimated a 14 percent tuition hike over the next two years. That would raise Twin Cities undergraduate in-state tuition from $4,877 per year to more than $6,338 per year.

Specific budget cuts were not addressed at the meeting, but Yudof said $30 million will be reallocated from low to high priority areas within the University.

He said faculty will receive smaller pay raises, and plans to invest in biotechnology will be put on hold.

“A vision without resources is commonly called a hallucination. We will not be able to afford much in investing in the future,” Yudof said.

But the tuition hike seemed the most pressing issue for both Yudof and board members.

“I would appreciate it if you could talk me out of this, because it’s not a direction I like,” Yudof told regents.

“I express deep sadness about what’s happening in the state. I wouldn’t be where I am today without education,” said Regent William Hogan.

Regent Robert Bergland said the Legislature’s decision to slight the University has made him more determined to convince the public of the University’s merit.

“This is a big-time social problem that the state cannot take lightly. I think what the public needs is a cold shower,” Bergland said.

“This notion that we can cut public funding for higher education and turn this place into a big private university for those who can afford it offends me. I think we have to dig in our heels and gird ourselves for a knock-down, drag-out fight,” he said.

Providing the state budget is completed, a special board meeting is scheduled for June 26 to approve the 2001-02 operating budget. The budget takes effect July 1.

 

Melinda Rogers covers the Board of Regents and welcomes comments at [email protected]