On March 12, Robert Katz, a University of Minnesota Libraries employee, noted in a Community Voices commentary that he works for a “pretty average large public university.” As someone who is convinced otherwise, I’d ask him to seriously consider how do his attitude and contributions lift this institution toward something better versus focusing, as apparently he prefers to do, on our perceived shortcomings.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of University of Minnesota employees have a much less pessimistic view of higher education and the university. The university’s president, this administration, and the Board of Regents remain focused on reducing our internal expenses while holding tuition down. In fact, our average annual increase in tuition for Minnesota residents over the past six years has been, wait for it, an average of 1 percent per year on the Twin Cities campus and 0.4 percent per year on average for our other campuses. That’s less than the rate of inflation. As for average student debt … it went down during this president’s tenure. You know what went up? The percentage of graduates systemwide (now at 39 percent) graduating with zero debt. Yes, zero.
At the university, we are focused on delivering the incredible impact that this institution has on Minnesota every day. Our economic impact is measured in the 16,000-plus graduates who enter the workforce each year. Our impact is measured in the breakthroughs and outreach — from medical to agriculture, from engineering to finance — that our faculty, researchers, and staff produce. Our impact is statewide, it is real, and it is certainly not average.
While Katz is focused on the past and pessimism, the rest of us are moving forward. At the University of Minnesota, far more of us work in a world filled with opportunity — a world that challenges, inspires and drives us.
Matt Kramer, Ed.D., is vice-president, University Relations, University of Minnesota.