Mo’ money,less problems

Bruininks’ State of the University address delivered a clear message: Better funding can help the University “reach for the stars.”

Contrary to what the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. said, mo’ money doesn’t necessarily mean mo’ problems.

In the case of the University, more money can do a whole lot of good, according to University President

Bob Bruininks’ State of the University address Thursday.

Bruininks’ address highlighted the necessity for Minnesota, the federal government and general

University supporters to step up to the plate and help push the University, in Bruininks’ words, to “reach for the stars.”

These days, students and the University are seeing less money and more problems. Bruininks cited statistics that students earning minimum wage would have to work 60 hours a week to pay for education, compared with only working 20 hours a week to pay for education 25 years ago. Minnesota has dropped from sixth to 26th in state per-capita support. The University has also dropped in a number of national comparative rankings.

To help students combat increasing costs, Bruininks announced the formation of the Founders Opportunity Scholarship program. He also hinted at more University partnerships to make up for Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s broad-axed cuts to University funding during the last few years. The actions outlined in Bruininks’ speech are welcomed measures and noble efforts, but they can only go so far.

Ultimately, the state must decide whether it wants the University to truly fulfill its tremendous potential as a top-notch research university.

Minnesota is the way it is largely because of its continued investment in higher education. Indeed, stiff-fisting the University of funding doesn’t help it or the state improve.

The drop in rankings might well be the canary in the coal mine. It might be the start of a dangerous decline in the University’s ability to provide education and the innovative research behind advancing knowledge. That is, more problems if there isn’t more money.