U of M Admin Spending Under new Scrutiny

Updated: 05/20/2014 10:17 AM KSTP.com By: Tom Hauser

A new report by a Washington "think tank" says among major universities the University of Minnesota is the third worst offender of high administrative costs compared to student spending. 

U of M President Eric Kaler swiftly proclaimed the report is "flat out wrong."

The report by the Institute of Policy Studies says spending per student on "non-academic administration" doubled from $2,574 in 2006 to $5,790 in 2012. During the same period, the IPS study says per student "scholarships" dropped from $1,424 to $914. 

In a written statement, Kaler strongly objected to the study's conclusions: "The University has made significant strides increasing financial aid, holding the line on tuition and reducing administrative costs. Unfortunately the report does a disservice to these important issues with its lack of rigor and scholarship."

Senator Terri Bonoff, the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, says the legislature has kept the focus on cutting administrative costs at the U of M since a Wall Street Journal cited similar issues two years ago. She believes Kaler has taken positive steps. "He believes that they needed to take strong action to make sure they were righting the ship, so to speak, to make sure their administrative costs were in line," Bonoff said in an interview on Monday.

The U of M froze tuition for two years in exchange for a boost in state funding, including increases in financial aid. Kaler has also pledged to cut $90 million in administrative costs between 2014 and 2019.

Read the report here.