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MnSCU reforms proposed

Published (3/18/2010)
By Nick Busse
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The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system’s central office would undergo a series of reforms, under a bill discussed March 18 by members of a House division.

The House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division held a hearing, but took no action, on HF3616. Sponsored by Rep. Jean Poppe (DFL-Austin), the bill would define the central office’s purpose in statute and make a number of changes to its administrative policies.

The bill would cap salaries of future MnSCU chancellors, vice-chancellors and presidents at $120,303 — the same salary as the governor. It would also take steps to eliminate duplication of services between the central offices and individual institutions, and ensure that services are delivered primarily at the institution level.

Other provisions include:

• forbidding MnSCU from charging colleges or universities for budget reductions made to the central office;

• requiring the board of trustees to develop and implement a plan to improve the credit transfer process between institutions; and

• phasing out the system’s “Centers of Excellence” initiative.

Poppe said the bill is meant to address issues outlined in a recent report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor. She said the state’s budget problems require MnSCU to deliver its services more efficiently, and with a greater focus on teaching.

Members of faculty and staff organizations testified in favor of some sections of the bill, but opposed others. Chancellor James McCormick said MnSCU needs time to implement changes recommended by the OLA report, and noted that the report did not recommend legislative actions.

There is no Senate companion.

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