University of Minnesota

Kaler’s proposed budget freezes tuition, cuts administrative costs and invests in academic excellence

Capital projects and increased UMD support also recommended

May 2, 2014

What: University of Minnesota Board of Regents meeting
When: Thursday, May 8 and Friday, May 9
Where: 600 McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis

For the second time in two years, a tuition freeze for undergraduate resident students, reductions in administrative costs and investment in key academic priorities are the cornerstones of University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler’s proposed operating budget.

The U’s Board of Regents will review the proposed FY15 $3.6 billon budget in the Finance Committee on May 8 and at the full Board meeting May 9. Regents will also take comments from community members during a May 9 public forum.

This proposed budget maintains the tuition freeze for undergraduate resident students on all campuses that was first implemented in FY14. The freeze was made possible by a partnership between the U and the state. Kaler’s commitment to providing an excellent, accessible and affordable education resonated with Governor Mark Dayton and lawmakers last year when they invested $42 million to freeze tuition for two years. The investment was part of the first increase in state support in six years.

For the second straight year, Kaler’s proposed budget also freezes campus and collegiate fees. Overall, it holds the combined total of all resident undergraduate tuition, required fees and room and board across all campuses to 1.2 percent or less (Crookston, 1.2 percent, Duluth, 0.4 percent, Morris, 0.7 percent, Rochester, 0.9 percent and Twin Cities, 1.1 percent). While the tuition rate for non-residents is increasing — a planned and strategic decision to have rates more in line with those for non-residents at other Big Ten institutions — these students still benefit from one of the lowest tuition rates among our peer campuses. Most graduate and professional students will see a modest tuition increase, consistent with peer institutions and the market.

This year’s proposed budget also provides a 13 percent, or $4.2 million, increase in state funding to the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. UMD’s leaders have worked closely with Kaler and the U’s Office of Budget and Finance to find efficiencies and better align costs, while reversing the current enrollment figures.

Other highlights of the proposed budget include:

  • Administrative cost reductions. The budget proposes at least $20 million in administrative savings by position reductions (primarily through attrition), unit restructuring, changing purchasing processes and decisions and other initiatives to redirect dollars from administrative costs to core mission activities. Combined with FY14 reductions of $15 million, this budget will bring the University nearly $36 million toward Kaler’s commitment to cut $90 million by FY19.
  • Investing in an excellent education. Kaler recommends $23.3 million for faculty hires, classroom and lab upgrades, instructional and student support and infrastructure maintenance, as well as $15 million toward a merit based compensation pool increase of 2.5 percent to retain and recruit world-class faculty and staff.
  • Advancing MnDRIVE. The proposal attributes an incremental $100,000 of state funding for MnDRIVE, bringing the total investment to nearly $18 million. Work is underway in the four determined research areas at several University units and will continue with a progress report scheduled during the 2015 legislative session.

Members of the U of M community and public interested in speaking at the public budget forum on Friday, May 9 are required to register in advance with the Board Office. Details and more information are available here.

Protecting and improving facilities to deliver on our mission
The Regents will also review the University’s proposed FY15 capital improvement budget. To ensure the University is equipped to deliver on its mission of research, education and outreach, the proposal authorizes $367.8 million in projects to begin design or construction. Sixty-three percent of the cost would be covered by state support of the U’s 2014 capital request, with the University paying the remaining 37 percent.

In addition to plans for four new buildings, infrastructure improvements (to fix roofs, upgrade wiring and plumbing and ensure energy efficiency among other repairs) are in demand across all five campuses. Systemwide, the University’s buildings account for 29 million square feet, or more than seven times the size of the Mall of America. One in four buildings, including 30 percent on the Twin Cities campus, are 70 years old or older.

Additional Board of Regents agenda items include:

  • Improving health through research. From new cancer drugs to health informatics to prevention of infectious disease, the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center is discovering new ways to tackle the biggest health challenges. In his first Board presentation, Dean of the Medical School and Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Brooks Jackson will showcase the University’s leadership in health sciences research. He will also address the growing challenge of securing research funding despite federal budget cuts and how the U’s rankings compare to its peers.
  • Providing a memorable student experience. Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock will lead a discussion on how University facilities can foster a positive, memorable student experience on the Twin Cities campus. The urban environment at UMTC has long attracted many students but as “basic needs” change with each generation, and as the city adjacent to campus shifts, the U is working to remain competitive.
  • Evolving transportation system. The University relies on state, regional and local partners to provide a comprehensive transportation system that ensures safety, eases accessibility, reduces congestion, and enhances a pedestrian, bike and transit-friendly environment. An update will be provided on current plans and challenges, including UMTC’s evolution from a commuter campus to one where an increasing number of students live on or near campus.
  • Adding light rail service. Metro Transit Green Line service, with three stops on the Twin Cities campus, is scheduled to begin in mid-June. Regents will review and act on an operations and maintenance addendum to the September 2010 Agreement with the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis, which would allow the University’s administration to grant final approval for service to start through campus.
  • Promoting the best and brightest. The Board will act on recommendations for promotion and tenure by Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson.
  • Supporting transfer students. More than 3,000 students transfer to the U of M each year. Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster will outline recent initiatives to support transfer student success.
  • Recognizing award winners. Faculty, staff and students who have excelled this academic year, including national scholarship winners and national champion student-athletes, will be formally recognized.
  • Support for graduate education. An update will be provided on the University's quality initiatives related to postbaccalaureate education and on the Provost's consideration of organizational adjustments to best position graduate and professional education for continued excellence.

Committee meetings will begin 8 a.m. Thursday. The full Board meeting will begin 9 a.m. Friday. More information, including meeting times and locations, can be found at

Twin Cities Campus: