UMM recently hosted the University of Minnesota board of regents, and we got a look at the status of the whole U of M system. It’s not a happy story. We have an administration with ambitious goals (that’s good), but they seem to be a bit divorced from reality — they want to turn us into one of the top three public research universities in the world. That sounds like a great 50 year plan, but I’d rather see an ambitious and feasible 5-year goal, myself.
One of my colleagues at the Twin Cities branch campus has analyzed some of the statistics. The most telling one to me is that, despite our goals, our increase in research spending is the least of all of our competitors — we aren’t keeping up. It’s fine to be at the tail end of the pack in a race and plan to pick up your pace to win, but to talk big while slowing down does not give one much confidence.
Here’s a summary of the summary:
Is it really credible to continue on with this “ambitious aspiration” to “become one of the top three public research universities [in the world]?” Let’s admit we have some serious problems here and concentrate on fixing them. Let’s also commit to getting the University of Minnesota at least to the mid-point of the BigTen rankings outlined above. That will be a difficult enough task.
The ultimate problem is declining investment in education, both in higher ed and our source of students, the Minnesota public schools. Rather than touting grand dreams, it might be wiser of our administrators to highlight the deficiencies in the support our government is giving us, and get them to quit taking the UM system for granted.
Oh, and throwing money into stadiums doesn’t seem like the best use of our limited resources.