The University administration’s recent policy breach in restructuring the Graduate School illustrates exactly why restructuring meetings should remain open to the public: Transparency is an indispensible condition for keeping everyone honest. Even if the graduate student body has little or no power in determining how their graduate education will be organized, these students — if not the public at large — deserve, at least, to observe the restructuring process and the activities of the Implementation Team. They are the ones, after all, funding the Graduate School.
And while we’re on the point, here’s a great reason for transparency the administration probably wouldn’t want you to know: The Implementation Team and Provost Tom Sullivan , who could approve their recommendations, are making big money for breaking the rules. From the budget years 2004-05 to 2008-09, institutional support at the University of Minnesota increased to $322 million from $178 million — more than any other expenditure. Julie Tonneson, the budget director at the University Office of Budget and Finance, said that institutional support “is basically central administration.” The rampant proliferation of central administration has put at least an additional $143 million burden on the laps of students and taxpayers.
Meanwhile, as central administration fattens, student aid and research have suffered a five-year net decrease — the only expenditures to do so. These statistics must be addressed, and what better time to do so than during the restructuring of the University’s Graduate School? Unless more meetings are open to the public and graduate students are given legitimate say in the organization of their education, there is no reason to believe the administration won’t continue to break rules while at the same time lining their pockets.