I work at the University of Minnesota which is heavily impacted by the 2010-11 budget recommendations by governor Pawlenty.  The University of Minnesota has been working aggressively to reduce costs, freeze hiring, freeze salary increases, scale back investments, and take other actions to help resolve the shortfall. To find more information on how the U will be impacted, read the statement by President Bruininks in response to the budget recommendations:


To see a presentation on the Pawlenty's budget, click here


There is also going to be an excellent open forum with Provost Sullivan for faculty, staff, and students.  This forum will encourage an engaged discussion about the University and the declining economy. It is on Jan. 29, 3-4 p.m., 101 Fraser Hall. To participate electronically, visit the Economy and the U Web site the day of the event for details.  This is an excellent idea by the University to reach out to University wide body and explore ways and solutions on how to deal with this situation.  I hope to participate electronically and encourage others to do so if they have ideas to help the University.


The University has also encouraged people to support the University by attending the 2009 legislative briefing.  This session will address Minnesota's budget deficit. It is on Jan. 28, 5:30-8 p.m., McNamara Alumni Center. For more information, call 612-626-1417.


If you wish to help the University address budget challenges, please send in your suggestions for cost savings to this electronic form.


The suggestions will be shared with University leaders and considered for implementation.  Other institutions impacted by Pawlenty's budget recommendations should follow suit by reaching out to the public for brainstorming ideas.  We need to explore solutions and ideas of how we can work together to minimize the negative impact.


I hope to listen and learn as solutions require us to be grounded in the depth and breadth of the situation.


While still researching and following the discussions, one solution that I hope to offer to the University or Higher Ed institutions, is can we explore ways where education is gained through experience and more hands on work?  The best knowledge or education is in serving, being and through experience.  The knowledge we acquire from our studies should not be discounted, but it will amount to very little if we are not putting that knowledge into practice and benefit the system as we learn.  Imam Shafi'i, one of the icons of Islam taught that knowledge is not what is contained in books, but rather that which benefits.  I would argue likewise.


Can we offer ideas that instead of cutting certain State programs, Universities can explore ways that students can get credit through work?  In other words, students work serving and benefitting necessary state programs and gains experience and educational credit from the University; state pays or helps toward their tuition costs.  Can some of the state programs competing with the U for funds be engaged to come up with a plan that will address both their needs feeding on each other's strengths?  Besides cutting costs, can we take a more holistic approach of working with other programs or institutions to see where we can work together on possible overlap?  The U is speaking with legislators but can it also engage institutions or programs competing for funds?  It might already be doing so - I am not sure.


I think if the University can come up with solutions that can engage the system more, benefit competing institutions, and explore giving educational credit through work experience; it might be able to ride this economic decline tide.  We need to go beyond important issues/needs competing with each other for funds to exploring ways of working together.

While I disagree with Pawlenty's budget recommendations as it appears to hurt the disadvantaged, I cannot offer criticism until I research the issues more in depth to formulate sound solutions.

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