Bravo, Bruininks

The U must continue to assert a strong message to state lawmakers.

University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks manifested some much-needed fighting spirit in his visit to St. Paul last week. Appearing before the Minnesota House committee on higher education, he warned lawmakers of the consequences of continuing to slash the UniversityâÄôs budget: âÄúThe University is absolutely essential to the future of the state of Minnesota. If you just keep cutting and keep cutting, you will not be competitive.âÄù He characterized further cuts as a âÄúdeliberate decision to compromise our future.âÄù Moreover, he pushed for a smaller budget cut in the current year, saying the University must be one of the stateâÄôs priorities. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has proposed cutting $36 million from University appropriations, bringing funding back to 2006 levels. Since absorbing $177 million in cuts last year, the University has shed 1,200 jobs, and sacrifices will only get harder from there. âÄúThese cuts are very deep, and theyâÄôre very real,âÄù Bruininks flatly stated. To this forceful message, we can only say bravo. Too long has St. Paul expected the higher education community to quietly resign itself to a dim future. Too long have they shuffled blame to the detriment of MinnesotaâÄôs students and families, who intimately understand that institutions of higher learning are the backbone of the state culture and economy. While University leaders must do their part to allocate internal resources efficiently, the onus must be on the state to honor its commitment to higher education. Bruininks and other administrators should keep up this promising new tone, which is a welcome break from the thin, pessimistic talk of âÄòâÄúnew fiscal realities.âÄù While St. Paul may be falling into cynicism, this publication refuses to presuppose ever-diminishing state support.