Eric Kaler: Criticism of U's fiscal care shortsighted

  • Article by: ERIC W. KALER
  • Updated: January 5, 2013 - 7:56 PM

Recent media analysis of school's management was incomplete.

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middleman711Jan. 5, 13 8:22 PM

This opinion piece is full of a lot of statistical slights of hand. One statistic that our unreasonably well compensated university president ($651K base salary) is particularly proud of is his claim that the U kept tuition increses at a 12 year low of 3.5% last year. Well, here's a news flash, President Kaler: With the exception of 2008, inflation in this country has been well below 3.5% since 1991. So what's your point again?

probsolverJan. 5, 13 9:47 PM

"and has reduced the per capita cost of educating students by 13 percent." ----please explain this bit if statistical gymnastics. Kaler implies the cost of educating students has gone down. Ask any u of m student if they have seen the benefits of kalers assertion.

billglahnJan. 5, 1310:30 PM

I don't underestimate the size of Dr. Kaler's task ahead. need for accountability to state's taxpayers or citizens?

maddyinmplsJan. 5, 1310:46 PM

"[D]espite stunning state disinvestment..." Kind of all you need to know about the way Kaler thinks. Notice there's no mention of cuts to his own staff. Are people aware, for example, that Kaler employs a full-time speechwriter? Bet that's the very person wrote this op-ed. So, "despite stunning state disinvestment," Kaler-world seems to be doing just fine.

swmnguyJan. 5, 1311:29 PM

Every part of our society has adopted the corporate management structure and accepted financialization. The results are clear, everywhere you look. Everything costs more, and results are worse. There are fewer jobs for people who do things, and more and more jobs for people who do not do things. A larger hunk of every dollar is siphoned off for "friction;" either interest, or fees, or costs related to paperwork, or other waste.

The "U" is no different. Yes, it's true that state funding has declined a lot, and the costs to students have skyrocketed as the goals of the university have shifted more to finance and away from the original purpose of educating the people of the state.

You can't really blame Kaler for thinking the way he does. He is a corporate executive. They all think their pay is justified, and the costs they pass on to everyone else are reasonable. Their number one purpose is to perpetuate their own structure and status. And they do it very well.

endothermJan. 6, 1312:34 AM

I both agree and disagree with this. First, I do think that the university needs to find some way to bring down administrative costs. Kaler himself makes a very large salary, so do the football, basketball and hockey coaches, as do most of the VPs in the system. These are no doubt big jobs, but should they really get paid over 1/2 million dollars each at a time when tuition keeps going up for students and much of the teaching staff works part time for low wages and no benefits? That said, Kaler is right that state support has declined drastically. States used to pay over 60% of the operating costs for their universities. They now tend to pay around 30%. That's a very steep reduction, especially at a time when there are more students and higher technology costs than ever before.

greg62Jan. 6, 13 3:30 AM

There is absolutely no reason why tuition at the U of M needs to be as high as it is. Their spending is out of countrol much like government.

mmcNabbJan. 6, 13 7:14 AM

In fiscal year 2012 the total cost of administration included $208,545,279 for administrative oversight compensation, $441,912,901 for administrative staff compensation, $131,590,95 for administrative supplies and services, $35,175,423 for equipment for administration, and an astounding $34,815,696 for consulting and professional services. So the total cost of administration consumed 28% of the $3 billion in total expenditures for the year. Even with a reduction in state appropriations, the U of M administration increased spending from $2 billion in fiscal year 2002 to $3 billion in fiscal year 2012. The fuel for this billion dollar explosion was skyrocketing tuition that soared from $293 million in fiscal year 2002 to $634 million in fiscal year 2011. For more details see On The Cost of Administration Part III on The Periodic Table blog.

elmore1Jan. 6, 13 8:18 AM

Mr Kaler needs to quit defending the staus quo and make transformational change at the U. Whining about reduced funding will not solve the problem. The amount of progress noted in the article is miniscule compared to the opportunities.

jred40Jan. 6, 13 9:32 AM

According to the Wall Street Jounral, the U of M has added over 1,000 administrators since 2001, increasing twice as fast as the student body as a percent. There is one employee for every 3 1/2 students. All of this has coincided with the declining value of a degree in the marketplace and skyrocketing tuition costs. If any other industry treated its customers (the students) so badly it would be considered criminal. What perks has Mr. Kaler given up in his office, with his high six figure salary? Like most college presidents is in denial, and his lack of leadership continues to inflate the college bubble.


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