Thank you to Michael McNabb for a thoughtful — and thought-provoking — article on administrative costs at the University of Minnesota (“U pare,” April 7). I share with Mr. McNabb the experience of two degrees, a son with two degrees, lifetime membership in the Alumni Association, and we were also basketball season seatholders for 40 years.
In addition, some 25 years ago I was acting vice president of finance at the U after Gus Donhowe’s untimely death. My salary for that role in 1991: less than $90,000. In today’s dollars, about $170,000, compared with the $420,000 cited in the article.
The article also pointed out the dramatic increase in tuition. The inflation rate of health care is often cited in media, but it is worth noting that the rate of increase in the cost of higher education exceeds that of health care.
Salary levels for individual positions always entail some comparative analysis. Using private-sector comparisons fails to recognize what should be a component of working in higher education — namely, public service. Further, salary is only a component of compensation. The U has a generous contribution to a defined contribution retirement plan for many administrators.
Just as in the private sector, boards are responsible for this escalation (kudos to Regents Darrin Rosha and Michael Hsu for challenging the status quo), and the Legislature appoints the board in what is still a far-too-political process. We should remember that the U’s administrative costs are largely duplicated in the Minnesota State office governing the state universities, community colleges and technical schools. We should consider whether the time has come for a major overhaul of higher ed in Minnesota.
Nicholas LaFontaine, Richfield
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In the tit-for-tat between Michael McNabb and University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler over the cost of education at the school, both use distorted statistics, but McNabb’s argument stands firm while Kaler’s crumbles.
McNabb contends that tuition since his time at the university is up more than nine times. Kaler rightly points out in his April 12 counterpoint, “Attack on U administrative costs misses key points,” that tuition covers only part of the university’s expenses and that the state covered a much higher percentage of the university’s budget in McNabb’s day. But if we use the numbers provided to calculate the total cost of education, we find it is up by a factor of six and a half rather than nine. Is Kaler implying that the citizens of Minnesota should be satisfied that such inflation does not indicate administrative bloat? That’s a pretty tough financial pill to swallow.
Bernie Nelson, Ham Lake
Unreasonable U coaching contract
The cash cow that is the University of Minnesota has again handed out a big raise to men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino, whose Big Ten record is 40-70! (“Pitino, Gophers agree to two-year extension,” April 8.) This year Pitino failed to recruit any of the top five high school players in Minnesota, leaving a lackluster future. It appears that his primary bargaining chip was to claim job offers from elsewhere, and link that with one NCAA win. Why do the regents continue to accept this scam?
Charles Dean, Apple Valley
An idea: For current migrants, a modern-day Homestead Act
My grandparents benefited greatly from the Homestead Act, turning South Dakota prairie into farmland in the 19th century. If they lived on and farmed the land for five years, it was theirs. It was an ingenious idea to spread a growing population across the country. We need another Homestead Act for the current influx of migrants: Any undocumented adult who agrees to live and work in a qualified area for five years could become a U.S. citizen. A qualified area might be a sparsely populated state, struggling cities, or low-wage industries that can’t find long-term workers.
This would solve three problems:
• Employers would have willing, productive workers to meet their labor shortages.
• Small towns could be repopulated.
• Undocumented workers would have a legal path to citizenship and could accomplish it with hard work, pride and dignity.
Like my grandparents, who brought nothing but hope and hard work, today’s newcomers just need an opportunity to demonstrate America’s can-do spirit. Let’s call it the Homestead Act 2.0.
Janet G. Ekern, St. Paul
Not a ‘Mom Hack,’ but another way to layer on the pressure
I was very disturbed by the mention of intermittent fasting in the “Hack your way to health” article (Science+Health, April 7) as a healthy “Mom Hack.” The article states that “time-restricted eating — in nine or 12-hour intervals — can help you lose weight naturally rather than struggling with restrictive diets.” Excuse me, what? You literally just called it “time-restricted eating” but are saying it’s not a restrictive diet.
This practice of eating only within a certain span of hours is absolutely a diet, and promoting it as a healthy way to treat yourself is not OK at all. At least 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. alone, and countless more have a disordered relationship with food. Intermittent fasting is just another diet in disguise under a different name. This article is supposed to be about helping women battle chronic stress. Do you think someone pushing through being hungry because they “can’t eat past 7 p.m.” is going to decrease stress? Starving yourself is not a “Mom Hack.”
Casey Pearson, Golden Valley
JEFF BEZOS? A WORD, PLEASE …
Amazon’s founder and CEO is due for a scolding. Here it is.
How much is enough for you, Jeff Bezos?
You have won. And everyone knows it. I’m hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t use your services. Even my sister who lives without running water in the woods of Oregon buys her stuff on Amazon.
So, are you satisfied? Or will you not have enough until every bookstore, toy store, convenience store, grocery store, corner store, hardware store and clothing store has gone under because of you?
What kind of a world do you want us to live in? Once everything can come to us with one click, and you have shut down every physical store where we could have gone to buy something in days gone by, do you think we humans will be better off and happier in our convenient isolation? Or will we not care because we will be able to watch all your instant play movies?
Once all retail jobs have been exterminated by lack of retail establishments, will you employ all these people as your delivery crew? Or will you by then use drones and not even provide them with that option?
Will you then be satisfied?
Isn’t what you’ve already done enough?
Libby Bird, Minneapolis