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University of Minnesota criticized for bloated spending on administration

A progressive national think tank is criticizing the University of Minnesota for its level of spending on administration.

The U of M is among five public universities whose administrative spending has most outpaced spending on students and faculty, concludes the Institute for Policy Studies.

The report covers the 25 public universities with the highest executive pay from 2005 to 2012. Between fiscal year 2006 and 2012, U of M spent more than $4.4 million on total compensation to top executives of its main campus or an average of $669,874 a year, according to the report.

Meanwhile, per-student expenditures on scholarships dropped from $1,424 to $914 and average student debt reached $29,702, the report said.

Co-author Andrew Erwin said the university scored poorly across the board — especially for high student debt and a growing use of adjunct faculty.

From fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2012, the U of M increased non-academic administrative staff by 200 percent, from 762 to 2,384, according to the report. It reports permanent faculty decreased by nine percent and the ranks of adjuncts grew 223 percent — to nearly half of all instructional staff.

"In our study period, we definitely saw larger-than-average bloat even among the top 25 schools," Erwin said.

U of M officials call the report "extremely flawed" and "misleading" and that in several instances the report's methodology and numbers are "outright wrong."

They also said the report covers only the first year of President Eric Kaler's tenure, and does not reflect the progress he has made since then.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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