Pawlenty’s proposal a start

Still, the House and Senate should seriously consider giving the University more.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his recommendation that the University receive $1.22 billion during the next two years. Although this is a lot of money, Pawlenty’s recommendation was $13 million less than what University President Bob Bruininks requested.

Considering that the University is falling in rankings and students face yet another tuition increase, the House and Senate should seriously consider giving the University more than Pawlenty’s proposal.

In September, the University was graded a “C-” on college affordability by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Despite this grade, which is based on preparation for college, participation, affordability, completion and benefits, the University ranked third in the nation for affordability.

This ranking, however, also represents a decline, as the University received a “B” in 2002 and an “A” in 2000. The University is falling in ranking in other areas as well. According to the University of Florida’s annual Top American Research Universities report, the University of Minnesota fell from 23rd in the nation to 25th.

Combine that with the fact that the University of Minnesota ranked 28th out of 30 public and private research institutions for salaries, according to the American Association of University Professors study. If these are indications for other areas, they don’t bode well for the University of Minnesota’s future.

Bruininks said tuition could increase 5.5 percent next year. This is yet another burden to University of Minnesota students who have seen tuition skyrocket while financial aid dwindled over the last few years. More negative effects of Pawlenty’s $185 million University of Minnesota budget cut two years ago will be seen as more studies come out.

We applaud Pawlenty for being more open to supporting the state’s flagship university, but he still has an obligation to undo the damage he inflicted upon the University two years ago with an eye toward positioning it as a competitor with the nation’s top universities. An investment now will benefit the state in the long run.