Back in March, 2007, DFL Sen. Sandy Pappas said that the GOP was “starving higher education.” The higher education budget increased by $296,000,000 that biennium:

Under the Senate targets, public education would get the most of $1.3 billion in new money: $498 million in the next two years. Following would be higher education ($296 million) and health and human services ($245 million). Other parts of the budget would get relatively insignificant increases considering the total state spending will top $34 billion over the next two years.

Despite that 11.3% increase, DFL Sen. Pappas still said this:

Higher Education Chairwoman Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said college and university funding is far from enough. “We are starving higher education,” she said.

It’s worth noting that tuition increased at Minnesota universities despite that hefty increase. Besides, I’d love to see higher ed go on a little diet.

The problem isn’t as much about underfunding higher ed. It’s more about the explosion of administrators on campuses and their exploding pay raises:

A few decades ago, few universities had more than a small centralized public relations staff. The typical mid- to large-sized school today has PR people in units throughout the university. Similarly, the number of people involved in affirmative action, diversity coordination, or serving as multi-cultural specialists has soared. As the nation shows continued and often spectacular progress in eliminating the vestiges of discrimination, is it still necessary to have all of these people? Do campuses really need to hire sustainability coordinators? Do they need associate provosts or vice presidents for international affairs? All of these types of jobs simply did not exist 40 years ago.

A related problem is the explosion in salaries, particularly for senior administrators. Even five years ago, $500,000 was considered an extremely high salary for a university president, whereas today a growing number make $1 million or more. Chief financial officers of universities that made $175,000 five years ago often make $300,000 or more today.

It’s disgusting to hear that high-paying administrative jobs have increased. What’s worse is that cronyism appears to be settling in in academia.

While national trends are disturbing, the GOP legislature is making strides in funding the MnSCU headquarters. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is that international travel expenses haven’t shrunk. I don’t know if consultant spending has dropped or increased. I just know that it isn’t a good deal for SCSU:

Earthbound Media Group’s (EMG) Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Damien Navarro recently spoke at St. Cloud State University’s (SCSU) Fall Convocation ceremony where he unveiled the universities new “Education for Life” branding campaign created by the interactive communications agency in partnership with the school’s marketing and communications department. The event also saw university President Earl H. Potter III and President of Student Government Samantha Ivey join Navarro in the addressing the audience consisting of faculty and students and provided for the unveiling of the branding initiative that hopes to change external perceptions of on-campus realities.

On hand in Ritsche Auditorium the university staff and students eagerly awaited Navarro and Potter’s elaboration on the need for the rebranding and exploration of what the campaign could mean to the university. The convocation acted as an orientation, as the new semester was just weeks away. The “Education for Life” Campaign is a multi-faceted approach that relies heavily on online storytelling as a tactic to changing the university’s reputation that according to Potter, “is not as good as [the university] truly [is].”

“I’m very impressed by the reception we received during our video presentation,” said Navarro. “The video is just the beginning of what looks to be an extensive rebranding effort that I’m certain will give the university’s community a more accurate depiction of the truly unique and positive academic and campus opportunities and experiences St. Cloud State University can provide.”

That’s a pathetic work product. This is the quality of work SCSU got for money:

Earthbound Media Group’s (EMG) Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Damien Navarro recently spoke at St. Cloud State University’s (SCSU) Fall Convocation ceremony where he unveiled the universities new “Education for Life” branding campaign created by the interactive communications agency in partnership with the school’s marketing and communications department.

A professional marketing company doesn’t check their spelling isn’t worth a thin dime. If I’d been tasked with writing this press release, I wouldn’t have included this in my sentence:

where he unveiled the universities new “Education for Life” branding campaign

Instead of that, I would’ve written “where he unveiled the University’s new “Education for Life” branding campaign.” I’m certain that I wouldn’t have made that paragraph a 45 word-long sentence. Here’s how it would’ve looked had I written that paragraph:

Earthbound Media Group’s (EMG) Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Damien Navarro recently spoke at St. Cloud State University’s (SCSU) Fall Convocation ceremony. Mr. Navarro unveiled the University’s new “Education for Life” branding campaign created by the interactive communications agency. St. Cloud State University’s interactive communications agency was created in partnership with the school’s marketing and communications department.

I’d totally rework this paragraph, too:

On hand in Ritsche Auditorium the university staff and students eagerly awaited Navarro and Potter’s elaboration on the need for the rebranding and exploration of what the campaign could mean to the university. The convocation acted as an orientation, as the new semester was just weeks away. The “Education for Life” Campaign is a multi-faceted approach that relies heavily on online storytelling as a tactic to changing the university’s reputation that according to Potter, “is not as good as [the university] truly [is].”

Here’s what that paragraph would look like if I’d written it:

On hand in Ritsche Auditorium, the University staff and students eagerly awaited Navarro and Potter’s elaboration on the need for the rebranding and exploration of what the campaign could mean to the university.

With the new semester just weeks away, the convocation acted as an orientation.

The “Education for Life” Campaign is a multi-faceted approach that relies heavily on online storytelling as a tactic to changing the University’s reputation. According to Potter, St. Cloud State’s reputation “isn’t as good as it truly is.”

You’d think you’d get better spelling and grammar from a company that’s getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Though I’ve mostly picked on SCSU’s spending habits, it isn’t because I think the other MnSCU universities are pure as the driven snow. It’s that I’m not close enough to the other universities to have the gritty little details on them.

MnSCU badly needs an overhaul. I haven’t seen proof that they take their job as the taxpayers’ watchdog seriously. That’s terrible because it’s leading to avoidable tuition increases.

What’s worse is that MnSCU’s spending habits are leading to increased student loan debt. That’s the most unforgiveable ‘sin’ in this mess.

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4 Responses to “Is MnSCU overfunded?”

  • eric z says:

    Sometimes rebranding, if unofficial, can be a productive thing. Do a web search, “pink slime.”

    The “lipstick of a pig” cliche raises the most fundamental question, is it a pig, and if so what do you do. As to rebranding, isn’t that what cattle rustlers and horse thieves did in the western movies we grew up watching? Just an observation. I doubt it adds to the post.

    Where do you go in proposing lasting and meaningful change at SCSU. That really is the point, isn’t it?

  • Gary Gross says:

    1. There’s more than 1 definition for the word rebranding.
    2. What’s happening in terms of rebranding SCSU is about image, not substance. The problems haven’t changed. They’re just hoping this new marketing campaign will distract people’s attention from the real problem. The marketing campaign hasn’t changed President Potter’s management style. It hasn’t eliminate his extravagant travel habits, many of which are paid for by for by Minnesota taxpayers. It certainly hasn’t stopped him from saying one thing to one group of people, then saying the exact opposite to another group of people.
    3. The first change is Potter resigning. The next step is installing local boards at each remaining MnSCU university, community college & tech college. These boards would have oversight authority to hold a president’s feet to the fire. In short, it would restore legitimate local control. Right now, the university presidents, whether it’s Bemidji, St. Cloud State or Winona, answers only to the MnSCU chancellor. The MnSCU chancellor’s office is located a couple miles from the State Capitol.

  • Jethro says:

    In a previous post, Gary mentioned that no one in a legislative town hall meeting was able to identify their MnSCU trustee. Legislators on both sides of the political aisle often have town hall meetings however trustees are nowhere to be found. Why are they exempt?

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