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U of M President Eric Kaler emphasizes commitment to freezing tuition, reducing costs and holding U accountable to students and public in legislative budget request

Friday, January 11, 2013

In addition to freezing tuition for the next two years for Minnesota resident undergraduates, the University of Minnesota commits to saving $28 million in operating costs and meeting performance and accountability measures outlined in University President Eric Kaler’s first biennial budget.

"When I took office 18 months ago, I committed to reducing costs so the university can invest in our students, as well as our teaching, research and outreach mission," said Kaler, who today detailed the university’s 2014-15 budget request to the state Legislature at the State Capitol Complex. "This biennial budget request seeks a new partnership with state policymakers to make these goals a reality for our students and their families."

Kaler’s budget request is proactive in featuring a new accountability fund, which would allow the U to access $11.5 million of state funds beginning in FY2015 only if it achieves at least three of five performance goals in FY2014. Approved by the university’s Board of Regents in October, the performance and accountability metrics include increasing institutional financial aid, awarding at least 15,000 degrees systemwide, increasing four- and/or six-year graduation rates on the Twin Cities campus, increasing invention disclosures and maintaining the 2011 level of total National Science Foundation recorded research and development expenditures.

As part of Kaler’s ongoing commitment to reduce costs and operate more efficiently, the university’s legislative proposal also includes $28 million in administrative cost savings. The university will achieve this savings through Kaler’s Operational Excellence initiative. The savings will support the university’s mission focus of teaching, research and public engagement.

"We must do everything we can to keep tuition down, reduce costs and ensure access to a high-quality education," said Kaler. "Enormous change is under way at all colleges and universities, driven by technology, student needs and a different economy. We will continue to make tough choices about where to invest at the U, and we may have to stop doing some things that do not directly benefit our students and our mission."

If passed by the Legislature, the university’s $1.18 billion biennial budget request would keep tuition flat for undergraduate resident students and help advance Minnesota industry. It would establish the Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) fund, to invest in four areas where the U’s distinctive strengths will help Minnesota companies enhance their national leadership: securing, protecting and growing the state and global food supply; supporting robotics, sensors and advanced manufacturing; advancing industry through environmentally sensitive and energy efficient approaches; and developing new treatments and cures for complex brain conditions.

As the state’s only research university, the U’s innovation and discovery help drive the state’s economy. Every dollar invested by the state of Minnesota at the U of M returns $13.20 to the state’s economy, according to a 2011 study.

The university’s 2014-15 budget request is close to the same amount the state provided the U in 2001.

For more information about the U’s legislative proposal, visit z.umn.edu/1415request. To learn more about advocacy programs and initiatives, visit supporttheu.umn.edu/.

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