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Whenever you’re tackling a reform of a major government institution, like MnSCU’s Central Office, you have to weigh the possible against everything that needs to be done. There’s no disputing the fact that MnSCU’s Central Office is a burden on the MnSCU system.

Over the past 4 years, I’ve yet to find a professor who thinks the Central Office serves a meaningful function. This sentiment isn’t held by a tiny fraction of people or one political belief. It’s widespread and it’s found across the political spectrum. At the heart of the Central Office’s difficulties is the fact that its responsibilities aren’t well-defined. That’s because MnSCU’s chancellors and trustees haven’t questioned its responsibilities.

Part of the problem is that the Trustees aren’t watchdogs. They’re political appointees who are waiting for their next campaign. Based on what they’ve done, or, more accurately, what they haven’t done, they view their position as a caretaker position. They didn’t question Dr. Rosenstone’s contract with McKinsey. They definitely didn’t express their concerns about Dr. Rosenstone’s performance when they told Rev. Hightower to negotiate a contract extension with Dr. Rosenstone.

Sen. Miller’s legislation is a nice first step. It’s something that needs to happen. Still, it’s important to change the culture of the Central Office. Right now, there’s nobody who’s challenging the status quo. There’s nobody questioning Central Office spending traits. Signing the contract with McKinsey was the wrong thing to do but that was a symptom, not a root cause.

The root cause was that nobody in the Central Office thought twice about spending $2,000,000 without doing a cost-benefit analysis first.

In that respect, the Trustees and Dr. Rosenstone failed the taxpayers and the students. That’s unacceptable. The biggest reason why the Trustees and Dr. Rosenstone failed the taxpayers and the students is because the legislature hasn’t told them that one of their primary responsibilities is to make sure the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely.

The Trustees’ and Dr. Rosenstone’s loyalty has been toward the governor that appointed them, not the people they’re supposed to serve. Any reform legislation that doesn’t change MnSCU’s culture isn’t doing everything that’s necessary. Until that culture changes, taxpayers and students will get cheated.

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