Editorial: U of M cuts signal more trouble ahead

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  • Updated: June 16, 2010 - 5:24 PM

A worrisome trend has taken hold at state's research flagship.

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drpanglossJun. 15, 10 8:55 PM

Why are we spending money for new buildings in this environment? Why are we cutting faculty and staff while simultaneously hiring new ones? Look at the Morrill Hall Gang's plans for new biomedical research buildings: This project will cost the University $109 million from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2019 over and above the cost of construction. Of this, $40 million will be for startup costs, $18 million for facility operations and overhead, and $51 million on programs and faculty. Forty new faculty principal investigators will be hired to work in the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and the Cancer/Cardiovascular facility. The administration claims that $31 million of this will be paid for with grants. Aside from the risk of counting chickens before they hatch, the assertion that grants cover the cost of new faculty lines is simply false. Vice President for Research Mulcahy observed at a recent presentation to the Senate Committee on Research that grants do not cover their costs. If the University wants more money from the state, I suggest that it be used for people, rather than buildings.

lkjhJun. 15, 10 9:08 PM

"What do we need smart, educated people for? Just a bunch of liberal elites who want to force their ideas on us." Fine. But be prepared to give up all your high-tech toys, your i-pods, your cell phones, your computers, your clean water, your clean air without all those smart people inventing and problem-solving. Be prepared for more international economic crises without smart, educated people in banking, business, and economics. Be prepared for environmental catastrophes without smart, educated scientists trying to figure out how to alert us to problems before they happen. Whatever. We all know that money thrown at smart people is just another waste of taxpayer money. (sent from my high speed laptop with wireless access in my air conditioned house courtesy of all those college-educated smarty-pants inventors)

Eagles01Jun. 15, 10 9:20 PM

Ever since people have thought they were entitled to vacations, lake homes, Suv's, boats, etc..., our support for K-12 and higher education have gone down. Let's face it; in this era of entitlement, democracy as we know it is doomed. People are concerned about themselves, period. A strong democratic society necessitates a strong public education system. Minnesota has basically decided that self is more important than a democracy. Good luck.

aceseightsJun. 15, 10 9:24 PM

OK then, the poor U of M isn’t getting the money it so desperately needs………..please tell us HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH!!!! Travel the University grounds….construction, construction and more construction!!! They have no concept of living within a budget!!! Their staffing is obscene. Dean of this and Dean of that and complete staffs for all of them. Take the Board of Regents and University President and dump them all and start over with people that will make some tough financial decisions. Oh by the way, did you all know that the Board of Regents all get a free car and gas for sitting on that part time board! HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH!!!!

aceseightsJun. 15, 1010:07 PM

lkjh……..Talk about not knowing what YOUR talking about. Most of the inventions in history were not invented by college professors and scientists or college educated people. Thomas Edison went to what college?? The richest man in the world is a college drop out and he started Microsoft. Your I’pod’s are from a company that was started by two guys in their garage and air conditioning wasn’t invented at a college either. Most of the inventions at 3M were from every day working stiffs that didn’t have a degree in their field because they STARTED THEIR FIELD. The men and women that developed the space program and moon landings had no advanced degrees in the field. There is more problem solving done by and patents issued to non college professionals then your college elites. A college education is nice to have but I’m not impressed with your college educated snobs in banking, business and certainly not economics and how about that highly educated pillar of the college education scene in Chicago, Bill Aryes. So I’m really not impressed with your comments but it does show how truly uninformed you are.

montaguezxJun. 15, 1010:13 PM

Since when is my desire to use my money the way that I want narcissism. I think that the 40% of my yearly income that is taken by federal, state, local and school district taxes are quite enough. And fee's good lord don't forget the "fees". As for the U of M, it is time that those empire builders started closing campuses instead of expanding them. A good place to start would be the most recent pork pie presented to the Republicans in Rochester by Governor Pawlenty.

lkjhJun. 15, 1010:44 PM

As long as there are humans involved, there will always be fat, there will always be money decisions that in hindsight look wasteful, there will always be money decisions that with foresight look wasteful but happen anyway. Show me any institution whether governmental or business or NGO or personal households that are run by people and I'll find you some waste and inefficiency. What's appalling about the current tenor of antagonism toward higher education is that the trajectory leads toward throwing the baby out with the bath water. That's highly symbolic because babies represent our future, just like higher education represents our future. Absolutely we should always strive to make systems less wasteful and more cost effective, but the mere process of making systems less wasteful and more cost effective is going to have wasteful inefficiencies because some ideas are dead ends that take time and money that could have been used elsewhere. It's the cost of doing business. It's human, it's not perfect. In the end, decisions about university funding need to be made with hope and boldness for the future, and not based on fears and an obsessive idea that we can achieve 100.00% efficiency and 0.00% waste and should not push forward until we do so. If that defines the difference between a liberal perspective on the world and a conservative perspective on the world, then I know which side I'm going to choose.

alphasongJun. 15, 1010:48 PM

Yum. Who cares about next year?

lkjhJun. 15, 1010:51 PM

Tell me where Bill Gates got his training. You don't know, do you. He figured out that the super computers on the UW campus were not being used in the middle of the night and rearranged his schedule to use those higher education computers as a high school student. That's where he got a good chunk of the 10,000 hours of programming time it took for him to become good enough to have the vision to start Microsoft. Tell me what Bill Gates did with some of his money after he made it. He invested it in computing at the UW as payback for what he had gotten in return.

lkjhJun. 15, 1011:01 PM

As for "most of the inventions" -- tell me which part in your cell phone or computer was invented by a non-educated person? Your 3M buddies might have invented their own new disciplines, but I can guarantee you that most of them came with higher education training. Higher education is not so much about learning specific factoids as it is about learning how to learn, learning how to think. I don't remember 10% of the facts I learned in college, you could line up all the exams I ever took there and I'd fail most of them right here right now. BUT, I learned how to organize, I learned logic, I learned how to do research, I learned how to explore ideas. I can take those skills and apply them to anything. That's what your 3M buddies did with their college education when they were inventing their fields. My computer science courses in college were all taught by math professors because graduate programs in computer science didn't exist yet. More college educated folk using their skills to pioneer new fields. I'm not saying that folks who don't go to college can't make wonderful contributions to society and our quality of living, but there's a reason why they joke about "going to the school of hard knocks". They have to re-invent the wheel, higher education speeds up the process and society progresses faster.


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