Admin budget raises red flags

Officials are questioning how savings from administrative cuts are being put to use.

Christopher Aadland

Though three years have passed since the University of Minnesota’s administrative spending received national scrutiny, criticism at the state level hasn’t tapered.

State legislators continued to probe University administrators on Wednesday, questioning how savings from past cuts to administrative spending have been spent.

“I would like to know … what was the percent of the administration [that] was actually cut,” Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, said at the meeting. “Truth in advertising, this is reallocation — they really aren’t cuts.”

The school has implemented cost-cutting plans since the conversation on its alleged administrative bloat started in 2012, like President Eric Kaler’s $90 million plan to cut administrative spending over six years.

Aside from the president’s plan, legislators tied a portion of the school’s state funding to cutting $15 million in administrative costs last year. Considering Kaler’s plan, the school met and surpassed that standard.

Still, as the University fights for $1.3 billion in funding at the state Legislature this spring — $65.2 million of which to freeze tuition for resident graduate students and undergraduate students who pay in-state rates — lawmakers continue to question the school’s spending and saving motives, specifically regarding recent administrative cuts.

“Was it put towards freezing tuition or towards expanding other programs, or where was it used?” Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said at the meeting.