Bruininks seeks 50/50 partnership with Minnesota

The University president proposed the partnership to a House committee Monday.

Brady Averill

University President Bob Bruininks made his way around the Capitol on Thursday and Monday to propose a funding partnership between the state and the University.

He proposed to the House Higher Education Finance Committee on Monday that the state should give the University a total of $84 million during fiscal years 2005 and 2006. The University would meet halfway and fund $84 million through a 5.5 percent tuition increase and funds reallocation.

The state would help fund biosciences, attracting and retaining talented students and strengthening technology and research, Bruininks said. The University’s contribution would help pay for compensation increases for faculty and staff members, operating costs and other academic investments.

Bruininks acknowledged the state’s big budget deficit and the hard decisions the committee will have to make.

“I’m not blowing smoke at the committee. You have a tough situation,” he said.

Two years ago, the University endured $185 million in cuts, and it was the largest public higher-education reduction in the country, Bruininks said.

The University cannot maintain its level of productivity without state help, he said.

“Money does matter,” he said.

Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka, said he was an advocate for the University and that it has done a lot.

“You’d be challenged to find another institution that’s done as much as the University of Minnesota Medical School,” he said.

Rep. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said, “(The partnership) is a great metaphor for the way the University and the state ought to be working together.”

Because of the lack of public funding, the University is becoming more privatized, he said.

“We need to reverse that,” Latz said.