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U of M sticks to deal: Less administration, tuition freeze

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The University of Minnesota plans to hold fast to a bargain it made with lawmakers for the next academic year: further administrative cuts, in exchange for more money from the state, more faculty hires and a second year of tuition freezes for undergraduates.

The details are laid out in a budget plan from President Eric Kaler being reviewed this week by the Board of Regents.

In other areas, prices would rise. Out-of-state students and most graduate students would pay more, and students can expect higher room and board costs and higher fees, the Pioneer Press notes.

The board meets meets Thursday and Friday, when it will hear from Kaler about his plan to set a $3.6 billion budget for next year, a $46.3 million hike.

The additional money would go to new faculty hires, improvements to classrooms and labs, a 2.5 percent merit-based raise for faculty and staff, and additional funds for scholarships, the Pioneer Press notes.

As part of an agreement with lawmakers, Kaler last fall pledged that the U would cut administrative costs by $15 million a year over the next six years, promising to shift expenditures to teaching, research and other programs.

University administrators have been on the defensive since a 2012 Wall Street Journal story put a spotlight on the U in a report on runaway administrative costs, citing the Twin Cities campus for having the “largest share” of management and administrative employees of 72 major public research universities.

University officials had said that the numbers were misleading. They pointed to a report by Sibson Consulting found that the university is “well within” reasonable levels of pay for administrators.

A two-year tuition freeze, along with more state money, was part of the deal with lawmakers. When the board approved the freeze, it was the first time in decades that tuition hikes had been halted.

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