Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Higher education cuts loom

Published (3/4/2010)
By Nick Busse
Share on: 

Student leaders listen Feb. 25 as University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks tells the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division that he would like to the see the university’s proposed budget cut reduced by one-third to $24 million. (Photo by Tom Olmscheid)Leaders of the state’s public colleges and universities are telling lawmakers that another round of budget cuts to higher education would be a bad move for Minnesota.

University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks said cuts proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, when piled on top of other reductions made since 2003, would essentially roll back state support for the university by 10 years. He said the end result would be higher tuition, cuts to academic programs and reductions to staff and faculty.

“I think we have weathered these cuts creatively,” Bruininks said. “I just want to tell you I think we have reached our limit.”

Bruininks joined James McCormick, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, in arguing against the governor’s plan. Bruininks spoke Feb. 25 to members of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division, and McCormick spoke March 2.

Both argued higher education has historically been a key factor in Minnesota’s economic success, and said more investment in state colleges and universities — not less — is needed to continue that legacy.

“I would argue very strongly that a state budget that does not make higher education at least a priority … is a deliberate decision to compromise our future,” Bruininks said.

McCormick said the new cuts proposed by the governor come at the worst possible time, as the sour economy has pushed laid-off workers back to college to search for new career paths.

“This fall semester, our enrollment grew by 7 percent, by more than 12,600 new students — the largest head count increase ever,” McCormick said, adding that spring semester enrollment at the system’s 34 colleges and universities is expected to be a record high.

Bruininks said that this year, for the first time ever, student tuition will account for a greater share of the university’s funding than state support. He called on lawmakers to exercise “the wisdom and the vision” of their predecessors, who committed in the 1950s and 1960s to significant funding for higher education.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Coming up short
College students may get less help from the state this fall
(view full story) Published 4/15/2010

Not-so-great expectations
State colleges and universities prepare for more budget cuts
(view full story) Published 4/8/2010

At Issue: Higher education ‘stabilized’
Tuition caps, student financial aid increases are focus of funding law
(view full story) Published 5/29/2009

At Issue: Higher ed funding approved
Federal stabilization funds used to spare deep cuts
(view full story) Published 5/15/2009

At Issue: Help for college students
Omnibus higher education finance bill holds down tuition hikes
(view full story) Published 4/24/2009

At Issue: Higher education, lower funding
Minnesota colleges resist tuition cap, brace for budget cuts
(view full story) Published 2/6/2009