Letter To The Editor: UMD dodges budget questions

UMD professor Richard Green writes his views on UMD’s Budget Allocation Report:  

I think that UMD is treated unfairly in the allocation of state funding.  Others, including the Governor and some legislators share my concern.  Because of this concern, the University was required to submit a Budget Allocation Report this year, explaining how money is allocated among units and among campuses. This report was submitted on February first (available at: http://govrelations.umn.edu/mandated-reports.html).

 This allocation report is poorly written and not very informative.  The report is ungrammatical, it is incomprehensible to anyone who did not already know about how University finances are organized, and it explains nothing to those who already know.  The report was signed by the Chief Financial Officer of the University, but he did not seem very interested.  I think that the University should be ashamed to have such a shoddy report released under its name, and the legislature should be ashamed if they found such a report acceptable.

I had hoped that this allocation report would help me understand how money is allocated among campuses, in particular, how the University decides how much money to allocate to UMD.  The report does not do this.  It contains no numbers, and it contains no information that an interested reader could use to determine how money will be allocated.  Roughly speaking, it says that the university does what it does and that is it.

While it failed to answer the questions that I had, the Budget Allocation Report does show three things.  First, the legal language to which it was a response was vague, perhaps inviting a vague response.  Second, the jargon-filled uninformative report showed a lack of respect to the legislature that mandated it.  This lack of respect may be standard operating procedure, but it reflects badly on both the University and the legislature.  Third, if the process the report describes intends to “ensure each unit has the resources necessary to maintain or improve quality in what it does,” I would say that it fails in UMD’s case.  Perhaps our shortfalls are the fault of our Chancellor, who does not ask for enough.  If this is the case, however, it is impossible to tell for this report.

-Richard Green

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