Give the state an ultimatum

If Minnesota won’t fund university, ax state outreach and research.

Last week, a Board of Regents task force determined that âÄúthe UniversityâÄôs financial architecture has undergone âĦ a permanent paradigm shift. The decline and reset of state support and the increased reliance on tuition revenue are permanent changes unlikely to be reversed.âÄù This conclusion isnâÄôt as realistic as it is cynical, especially when the task force argues that the University must forge a âÄúnew covenantâÄù with the state of Minnesota to reestablish fiscal support. Hope is not lost. But it does appear that Minnesota is losing its luster as an exceptionally educative state. Earlier this year, former Gov. Al Quie lamented to MinnPost that âÄúMinnesotans have lost a sense of direct responsibility for their colleges and universities.âÄù With the future of state appropriations in question, the University needs to figure out how to play hardball with the legislature and the governor. Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs unallotment gave administration an ultimatum: crank up tuition or take out the cleaver. Likely favoring the former, the University will come out looking even more like a high-tuition, high-aid private college and less like the public research university Minnesotans know us as. Perhaps itâÄôs time we play the cards Minnesota has dealt us and start cutting University research and outreach. Sure, the University has land grant responsibilities to the state: sharing its knowledge and applying it to the economy. BorlaugâÄôs wheat, Honeycrisp apples, an artificial heart. It is backward to expect the University to fulfill its state responsibilities without appropriate state funding. The University must give an ultimatum to the state: Either you allow us to remain a public land grant university with research and state outreach or else our students foot the bill and we focus on solely their education.