Last Friday, the University of Minnesota chapter of the America Association of University Professors brought a financial analyst to the University to take a look at the UniversityâÄôs budget and true financial state. The analyst, Howard Bunsis, found some eye-opening results.
According to Bunsis, the University is actually in a strong financial state, a claim backed up by evidence of healthy financial ratios dealing with debt and reserve funds. Bunsis argues that the furloughs and pay cuts implemented under former President Bob Bruninks were unnecessary because of the UniversityâÄôs large amount of unrestricted reserve money, which could have been used to pay employeesâÄô salaries during a temporary budget shortfall.
The UniversityâÄôs chief financial officer has argued over how some of the numbers are calculated, but the point of BunsisâÄô analysis still stands. The University administration has used an atmosphere of budgetary crisis to make cuts wherever they want and discourage protest. They provide a false narrative that cuts to academics and salaries and wages are necessary because otherwise the budget will be in crisis. Meanwhile, spending on administration continues to rise, another point Bunsis highlights in his report.
The bottom line is that the University must cut its administrative spending. Spending on areas like instruction and faculty pay is being crowded out by a bloated and still growing administration. If cuts are even necessary given the UniversityâÄôs apparent strong financial footing, those cuts must come from administration first. Students, faculty and others in the University community should stand up to the false urgency of cuts and demand that any chopping start at the top.