University of Minnesota needs to tighten up on faculty leaves | | Brainerd, Minnesota

University of Minnesota needs to tighten up on faculty leaves

Posted: May 20, 2012 - 8:13pm

No one likes tightening budgets but when the pain isn’t shared equally the sacrifices one group makes is disproportionate. That makes hardships all the more difficult to take.

University of Minnesota students have been hit hard with tuition increases in the last decade. While the latest recommended tuition hike is only 3.5 percent, consider the earlier increases. Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reported that starting in 2001, students saw double-digit tuition increases in four of the next five years, some as high as 16 percent. Several of the subsequent increases, the radio station reported, were more than 7 percent.

Faculty and staff, MPR reported, has seen three years of furloughs, wage stagnation and higher health-care costs.

One group that hasn’t felt as much pain is the University of Minnesota executives who have been granted the generous administrative transitional leaves. Those leaves, granted by former University President Robert Bruininks, granted departing executives lengthy paid leaves at their administrative salaries, the Star Tribune reported. Bruininks also repeatedly waived a university policy requiring executives to repay their stipends if they leave the university.

The staff of new University President Eric Kaler has proposed ending the transitional leaves while still allowing sabbaticals that are less costly.

There’s no excuse for the generous leave policy that existed under Bruininks and Kalar’s staff should be commended for calling for an end to the administrative transitional leaves.

When U students are struggling to pay tuition, there’s no justification for golden parachutes for a few high paid college executives.

— Mike O’Rourke